Aaron, Gabriel and Bonaparte
- The Periodic Table by Primo Levi, translated by Raymond Rosenthal
Joseph, 233 pp, £9.95, October 1985, ISBN 0 7181 2636 X
Once in an unguarded moment when I was trying to illustrate the unbounded nature of human vanity, I shamefacedly admitted to my daughter that I, too, outwardly so cool-headed and realistic about my slender talents, cherished in the back of my mind a dream of being awarded the Nobel Prize. I could see myself, I confessed, walking up an aisle of red plush carpet, flanked by applauding onlookers and heralded by fanfares, dressed in my best, blushing becomingly as I prepared to receive this the highest accolade currently available in the profession. Strange to say, and pathetic though I must have sounded, my daughter did not scoff at me in the least. ‘There’s nothing wrong in that,’ she said encouragingly, patting my arm. ‘I know exactly what you mean. You’re right. Why not? It would be wonderful’ – here she stopped and became thoughtful – ‘only what do you suppose they could award it to you for?’
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