Elie Wiesel: Night

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Wiesel, Elie. Night (New York: Hill and Wang, 2006)

I ordinarily avoid popular book club choices, but Oprah can be forgiven many faults for bringing this tale of the Holocaust to her audience's attention. After reading this slim volume, Wiesel's travels from Birkenau to Buna to Buchenwald are seared into my memory. Here is one passage that I found particularly moving:

The darkness enveloped us. All I could hear was the violin, and it was as if Juliek's soul had become his bow. He was playing his life. His whole being was gliding over the strings. His unfulfilled hopes. His charred past, his extinguished future. He played that which he will never play again. I shall never forget Juliek. How could I forget this concert given before an audience of the dead and dying? [...] I don't know how long he played. I was overcome by sleep. When I awoke at daybreak, I saw Juliek facing me, hunched over, dead. Next to him lay his violin, trampled, an eerily poignant little corpse. (p. 95)

Wiesel's determination to prevent such inhumanity from ever flourishing again is also remarkable:

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must--at that moment--become the center of the universe. (pp. 118-9)

Wiesel's Night is a tale full of sorrow, but you won't be sorry that you read it.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on July 23, 2006 12:15 PM.

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