RESPONSES TO ELIE WIESEL by Harry James--Ed. Cargas


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Unanimously shaken by the significance of Wiesel's memoir of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, Night, and the later novels that try to puzzle out how to live as a survivor of the unthinkable, the dozen or so writers here treat Wiesel's witness on literary, theological, and psychoanalytic grounds. Standout literary essay is Robert Alter's: Wiesel as (very French-style) aphorist, or how to cast unbearable knowledge into form; Wiesel's novels ""are written for and about Abrahams on the mountain, Isaacs under the slaughtering knife, and a God who watches but no longer sends His messenger to stay the descending blade."" Byron L. Sherwin's relating of Wiesol to the Kabbalah is fine scholarship, intuitive yet precise. Too much of the book reads as repetitive synopses, as though the writers literally don't know what to say about Wiesel's uncompromisingly awful vision; as a whole, however, the volume lends appreciative direction to work that is Outside (not necessarily too good for, simply outside) conventional criticism.

Pub Date: Nov. 16th, 1978
Publisher: Persea