2000 was the year I read Night the first time. I only read it because it was assigned to me as part of my High school curriculum. When I first saw this book, I had no idea what I was about to read. Yet out of all the books I had to read in High school, this one stood out leaps and bounds compared to anything else I was assigned. Night was the only publication in high school that once I started reading it, I wanted to finish it, know the final outcome, and write a passionate report for it. 17 years later, there are still scenesthat are permanently etched in my memory. It was Value Village where to my surprise I was reunited with this title that I have not read for many years.
This edition happened to have an 'Oprah's Book Club' sticker slapped on each copy. I am not sure why that was necessary as I personally do not like stickers being placed on a front cover for any reason. They are not easily removable and creates a mess of the front cover with its residual adhesive. For $3.99, I purchased Night by Elie Wiesel. Although today readers can buy a new copy at their local bookstore for $10.95. There is even a compact version, although I am not sure why the compact version is three dollars more expensive.Originally published in 1960 (English Version), there has been a wide variety of book covers over the years. The cover I remember reading in High School was the 1982 cover. The cover I have is the 2006 Translated Edition.
Elie Wiesel was a Jewish American that was born in Romania. He was a survivor of the concentration camps during the Holocaust. As of July 2, 2016, he died at the age of 87. He has received more than 100 honorary degrees from institutions of higher learning. He was a winner of the Nobel Peace prize in 1986.It was 10 years after World War II that he decided to write about his experiences which was titled as,Night. It was as if his experiences were so horrific, that he needed all those years to process in words what he wanted to say. Wiesel clearly has an appreciation for his survival and his life of freedom as he has written more than 60 fiction and nonfiction books. Out of all his writings, Night stands as his most important work. As he states in the very first line of his new preface, "If in my lifetime I was to write only one book, this would be the one"
So why 45 years later did Night receive a new translation through his wife Marion? Wiesel admits that his English back then was far from good. His wife has been his most frequent translator, as she knows his voice and how to transmit it better than anyone else. As a result of her rigorous editing, they both were able to revise and correct a number of important details. This presents the most accurate rendering in English.
Wiesel was born to his parents Sarah Feig and Chlomo Wiesel. With three sisters, he was the second youngest of four children born in Romania. His whole family was deported by the German army as they were crammed in a cattle car to the concentration camp of Auschwitz. He was separated from his mother and sisters, but remained with his father. This was the start of a long road for Wiesel and his father of manual labour, physical torture, and continually escaping death while being transferred from one camp to another under deplorable conditions. With the multitudes of horrific inhumane deaths he witnesses, Wiesel wrestles with not only his faith in humanity, but his faith in God. While most would consider Night a memoir, Wiesel considers it his deposition as he describes his survival from one of the most horrific times in human history: the Holocaust.
It is hard to describe the experience of reading this book. The reader is immediately transported to this historical time. I felt like I was right there with Elie and his father. Emotionally, I struggled not being able to comprehend their pain. The reader almost feels every emotion possible. I did not know such a turbulent narrative could be expressed in a short 116 pages. The descriptive style Elie uses with such few words and short sentences speaks more than large paragraphs could ever accomplish. His simple yet profound statements blindsides the reader into an emotional wreck. For a published work to be still etched in my memory 17 years later and for me to mount the courage to read this book again shows how much of a profound impact Night had on me.
"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky. Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes. Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never." - 34
"Some of the men spoke of God: His mysterious ways, the sins of the Jewish people, and the redemption to come. As for me, I had ceased to pray. I concurred with Job! I was not denying His existence, but I doubted His absolute justice." - 45
Night has been translated in at least 30 languages. It has become the standard in holocaust literature. It has arguably become one of the most difficult books I have ever read. I felt almost every gamut of emotion I could possibly feel. The most gripping storyline for me was the incomprehensible struggle Elie and his father endured to keep each other alive. After everything they both went through, I wanted nothing more than for those two to survive. I could not put the book down as I was anxious to know the outcome.
ReadingNight in my English class immediately captivated my interest in history and World War II which no history class could ever accomplish. My hope is that schools all across the world are still using Night in their curriculum as this is a part of human history that should never be forgotten.
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