Started: 16 August 2007
Finished: 19 August 2007
Maybe someday when I go back through my old book logs I'll discover when I first read Night. It was a long time ago, that's all I remember. So long ago, I can't even recall who recommended it or why I read it. I do remember feeling disappointed by it. Not that Mr. Wiesel isn't an excellent author. Nor that he doesn't do a memorable job describing his horrific experiences as a young man in several Nazi concentration camps.
But as a work of Literature, it is not strictly speaking a diary nor an autobiography. Nor is it detailed like a work of sociological research. There is a starkness in his writing. An abruptness of style, which perhaps is suited to the subject matter in question. It is also a very short work. The first time I read it, I believe I finished it in two sittings; it can be finished in one by an extremely fast reader. This reading took me longer due to my current schedule.
The New York Times calls it, "A slim volume of terrifying power," and who am I to question the New York Times? It's also a winner of The Nobel Peace Prize--and with good reason. It's the story of abuse, racial hatred, and unspeakable crimes committed against men, women and children. It's an ugly story, but one which must be told and kept alive. It's a mission which Mr. Wiesel has made his life's work ever since World War II. He claims to have lost his faith in God as a result of what he saw in Auschwitz--yet he has devoted the rest of his life to serving his fellow human beings. I think Jesus would say our author is like the son in the Gospel story who told his father, "No!" yet went ahead and did his what his father told him to do.
So, with all this, why was I disappointed in my first reading of Night? Only because I wanted to know more. Because what the author included was so tantalizing, so moving, so riveting, that it seemed like what it was--just the tip of the iceberg. If this is what he included, what about all the rest? And then what happened? I was much younger then and had still not fully realized the extent of man's capacity for inhumanity to his fellow creatures.
And this time around? Was I still disappointed? No, not at all. It was perfect--in every respect. Since my first reading, I have read other books on the Holocaust and learned many of the grim 'details' I was seeking previously.
My oldest daughter is reading Night for her 10th grade English II class. That's what prompted me to get out the book, dust off its cover and give it another try. I'm certainly glad that I did. It's even more poignant with subsequent readings.
Most highly recommended! *****