Night by Elie Wiesel

Night by Elie Wiesel

night by elie wiesel

night by elie wiesel

Night by Elie Wiesel is a wonderful and sad book in the same time.

Night (1960) is a work by Elie Wiesel about his experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald in 1944–1945, at the height of the Holocaust toward the end of the Second World War. In just over 100 pages of sparse and fragmented narrative, Wiesel writes about the death of God and his own increasing disgust with humanity, reflected in the inversion of the parent–child relationship, as his father declines to a helpless state and Wiesel becomes his resentful teenage caregiver. “If only I could get rid of this dead weight … Immediately I felt ashamed of myself, ashamed forever.” In Night everything is inverted, every value destroyed. “Here there are no fathers, no brothers, no friends,” a kapo tells him. “Everyone lives and dies for himself alone.”[2]

Wiesel was 16 when Buchenwald was liberated by the United States Army in April 1945, too late for his father, who died after a beating while Wiesel lay silently on the bunk above for fear of being beaten too. He moved to Paris after the war and in 1954 completed an 862-page manuscript in Yiddish about his experiences, published in Argentina as the 245-page Un di velt hot geshvign (“And the World Remained Silent”).[3] The novelist François Mauriac helped him find a French publisher. Les Éditions de Minuit published 178 pages as La Nuit in 1958, and in 1960 Hill & Wang in New York published a 116-page translation as Night.

Fifty years later the book had been translated into 30 languages, and now ranks as one of the bedrocks of Holocaust literature. It remains unclear how much of Night is memoir. Wiesel has called it his deposition, but scholars have had difficulty approaching it as an unvarnished account. The literary critic Ruth Franklin writes that the pruning of the text from Yiddish to French transformed an angry historical account into a work of art.[4]

Night is the first in a trilogy—Night, Dawn, Day—marking Wiesel’s transition during and after the Holocaust from darkness to light, according to the Jewish tradition of beginning a new day at nightfall. “In Night,” he said, “I wanted to show the end, the finality of the event. Everything came to an end—man, history, literature, religion, God. There was nothing left. And yet we begin again with night.”[5]

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