ALL RIVERS RUN TO THE SEA by Elie Wiesel
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ALL RIVERS RUN TO THE SEA

Memoirs

KIRKUS REVIEW

Drenched with sad yearning, yet narrated with simplicity in the limpid singsong that distinguishes his oral as well as written narrative, Wiesel's memoir reveals much, if not enough, about the man whose purpose in life has been to testify to the fate of his people. Journalist, novelist (A Beggar in Jerusalem, 1969; The Forgotten, 1992, etc.), moralist, witness to the Holocaust (Night, 1960): This is the Wiesel we have always known. What do we learn about the unknown Wiesel as he tells of his life from his childhood in the Transylvanian town of Sighet through his marriage in 1969, where this volume ends? Vividly recreating the intense Jewish life of Sighet, he paints a young Elie who's a dreamer and a mystic. One of the most engaging (and tragic) episodes is his aattempt with two friends to use the Kabbalah to force the arrival of the Messiah. This hubristic act of idealism ends with two of the boys falling mad. Later, with disarming honesty, Wiesel depicts the shy, sexually and politically naive, overly serious teenager who arrived in Paris in the late '40s. We read of his timid first kiss with Hanna, the beautiful young woman who proposed marriage to him; his more fervent first kiss with Kathleen, a Gentile who was engaged to another man. But when he meets his wife-to-be, Wiesel not unexpectedly falls silent about romance. Similarly, he alludes to a religious crisis but doesn't elaborate on the battle that must have raged inside him. Much of the volume relates the extraordinary people Wiesel has met, from Moshe the beadle, Sighet's first witness to Germany's Final Solution; to Joseph Givon, an adventurer who may or may not have been a double agent; to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who challenged the author to a baffling drinking contest one holiday evening. Through it all Wiesel testifies vividly indeed to Jewish history: the birth of Israel, the Six-Day War, the capture of Jerusalem. And he ceaselessly pricks the conscience of a world that thinks it is possible to have heard "enough" about the Holocaust.
Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-679-43916-1
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1995




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