Question by Some Guy: In the Book Night by Ellie Wiesel?
why do the jews of seghet remained so hopeful despite hearing about the atrocities
Answer by Pedro
Sir Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel KBE (English pronunciation: /ˈɛli viːˈzɛl/; born September 30, 1928) is a writer, professor at Boston University, political activist, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor. He is the author of 57 books, the best known of which is Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. His diverse range of other writings offer powerful and poetic contributions to literature, theology, and his own articulation of Jewish spirituality today.
When Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, the Norwegian Nobel Committee called him a “messenger to mankind”, noting that through his struggle to come to terms with “his own personal experience of total humiliation and of the utter contempt for humanity shown in Hitler’s death camps”, as well as his “practical work in the cause of peace”, Wiesel had delivered a powerful message “of peace, atonement and human dignity” to humanity.
Night is a work by Elie Wiesel based on his experience, as a young Orthodox Jew, of being sent with his family to the German concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald during the Second World War and the Holocaust.
Wiesel was 16 years old when Buchenwald was liberated by the U.S. Army in April 1945. Having lost his faith in God and humanity, he vowed not to speak of his experience for ten years, at the end of which he wrote his story in Yiddish. It was published in Buenos Aires in 1955, and in May that year, the French novelist François Mauriac persuaded him to write it for a wider audience. Fifty years later, the 109-page volume, described as devastating in its simplicity, ranks alongside Primo Levi’s If This Is a Man and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl as one of the bedrocks of Holocaust literature.
Wiesel deploys a sparse and fragmented narrative style with frequent shifts in point of view. The recurring themes are his increasing disgust with mankind and his loss of faith in God, reflected in the inversion of the father-child relationship as his father declines to a helpless state and the teenager becomes his resentful caregiver. “If only I could get rid of this dead weight … Immediately I felt ashamed of myself, ashamed forever.” In Night, everything is inverted, every value destroyed. “Here there are no fathers, no brothers, no friends,” a Kapo tells him. “Everyone lives and dies for himself alone.”
Night is the first book in a trilogy—Night, Dawn, and Day—reflecting Wiesel’s state of mind during and after the Holocaust. The titles mark his transition from darkness to light, according to the Jewish tradition of beginning a new day at nightfall. “In Night,” he said, “I wanted to show the end, the finality of the event. Everything came to an end—man, history, literature, religion, God. There was nothing left. And yet we begin again with night.
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Camping a la France. This is a verrryyy shortened version, there was just way too much stuff we did in two weeks, but don’t worry, it’s got the main stuff.
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Question by RETROBOY: the book “Voltaire’s Candide” create an effective satire?
Answer by Lilith
It’s some years since I last studied “Candide” but I still recall it with considerable affection and feel it did achieve what Voltaire set out to do.
From the sales point of view, it’s still in print after more than 200 years, so it was certainly effective in that way!
It wouldn’t be easy to sum up the work in a few paragraphs, so I will refer you to the Wikipedia article on the subject which provides a lot of background information, analysis, etc. Voltaire was not shy about putting forward his views which is one of the reasons he is still one of the figureheads of French literature. As an example of this, there is an incident in the novel where Candide witnesses the execution of an English admiral whose “crime” was in not killing enough of the enemy. This was carried out “pour encourager les autres” (one of the best-known lines from the work). The incident is actually based on the real-life execution of Admiral John Byng, who was effectively shot by firing squad for not doing his utmost against the enemy in battle. Of course, the way this is worded in the novel makes the whole incident sound ridiculous, which is exactly what Voltaire wanted in the first place! The chances are that contemporary readers would have found this chapter very thought-provoking and it still packs a punch today which is certainly the sign of a good satire.
I thnk as well by having this rather fantastic approach meant that Voltaire could spread his targets pretty wide, and also the novel is not rooted in the eighteenth century as a result – the idea of fantasy lands in satire was of course used to equally great effect in Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels” which also features a fair number of targets on human nature. The two books are not dissimilar and it’s interesting in itself to compare the two.
So check out the Wikipedia article so you can really appreciate Voltaire’s work. (As an interesting aside, I recall one of my university lecturers telling me that, when she studied at Oxford in the 1930’s, they were taught literature from every century from the Middle Ages onwards – apart from the eighteenth century, when Voltaire was around, as was Rousseau. Even after all that time, their works were seen as too dangerous for the students to study. I can’t help thinking the pair of them would be falling about laughing over that, so they certainly found the mark when it came to explosive ideas!)
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Question by mgmandthelionsroar: Has anyone read the book Dreams of my Russian Summers?
I’m very confused about what happened, and if anybody can give me a synopsis that would be wonderful. Thanks!
Answer by Banshee
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful:
hit ‘n miss, September 26, 2002
By Jay Stevens (Missoula, MT) – See all my reviews
Erk! What a difficult review to write! So uneven, so blurry and ephemeral in plot and character, but containing a scene or two of exquisite beauty and skilled craftsmanship… What do you say?
“This book was a work of genius.” The early scenes of Paris as imagined by a boy listening to stories his grandmother weaves – think of the depth and complexity of creating point of view, setting, and character that this scene entails. And Makine pulls it off. Paris feels…unreal, like a child’s fantasy. Makine plunges into this fantastic Paris as if it is the story. As a result the reader’s images, too, become tangled and unsure, and the reader, too, becomes entranced by Parisian fairy tales.
“…overwritten, vague, and pretentious.” Yup. The book features your typical first-year college writing class protagonist. You know the type. Emotionally blocked. Self-obsessed. Absolutely passive. Self-pitying. A bookish nerd, dissed by the cool kids in school because he’s too sensitive. The kind of character that should be drop-kicked.
“…an homage to Russian and France…” Y-e-e-s. And no. Anything to do with the grandmother is gold. Her descriptions of France as imagined through her grandson, the story of her travel through Russian during the Civil War, seeing her walk along the train tracks by her house on the Russian steppe. Yes. Otherwise…no. We learn nothing new about Russia here, most of the platitudes written by our simpering protagonist are romanticized, overblown, and images of the country. And those of us who have been to Paris cannot fully succumb to the images of France, especially with the image of a lonely artist clicking away on his typewriter, wearing winter coat in his unheated Paris apartment. It’s like your typical year-abroad story at this point.
Perhaps what ruined the book the most for me was the expectation placed upon it by word of mouth and critical acclaim. It isn’t what it was said to be. (Lots of passive and contractions, there.) Lower your expectations.
7 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
Try something else, April 2, 2002
By email@example.com (Edmonton, Alberta Canada) – See all my reviews
A surprisingly large number of critics have compared this novel to Proust (though my copy has a reviewer compare it to “Doctor Zhivago). This can’t help Makine’s reputation, since it is very obvious that Makine is not in Proust’s class. One is reminded of Sartre’s comment that while Valery was a bourgeois, most bourgeois are not remotely like Valery. If Proust was a dandy, he was also infinitely more than that. He is also an intelligent and acute observer, a man of considerable wit and one of the finest writers of love in the last century. Makine is not really any of these.
The Independent claimed that “We inhabit [he hero’s] mind more intensely than any boy’s mind since Marcel’s in the Rembrance of Things Past.” Clearly false in my opinion, and not simply because of the counterexamples of Call it Sleep, See Under Love, or The Time of the Hero or The Street of Crocodiles. Much of the book consists of the protagonist’s obsessions with the stories related by his French grandmother about the idealized France of her youth at the beginning of the century. The only aspect of his childhood that is particularly well conveyed is the solipsistic intensity that he holds on to these memories. Other aspects of the child-like mind–the particularly acute observation, the intensity of new feelings, the special nature one attaches to certain objects or certain relationships–these are not well conveyed.
Ok, so he’s not Proust. Surely there are other virtues? But Dreams of My Russian Summers shows other problems. For a start, the main focus of the novel isn’t the memories of the protagonist’s (who is nicknamed once as Frantsuz), but those of his grandmother. The other relationships in his life are all curiously underplayed. There is a certain lack of reaction to the death of his two parents, a sister wanders out of the narrative never to be seen again, there are brief mentions of sexual interests as a teenager, but there is no systematic discussion of the Frantsuz’s love or sexuality. Except for one relationship has with a fellow adolescent Frantsuz has gone through life without any deep emotional connections except to his maternal grandmother. The contrast with Marcel or Proust is rather striking. Moreover, when Frantsuz finally emigrates to his idealized Paris, there is surprisingly little discussion on what he actually thinks about it.
Much of the book deals with his grandmother’s life, and it contains the natural horrors of 20th century Russia. There is the agony of the second world war, there are a couple of specific Stalinist atrocities (Beria’s raping of young women, the deportation of the dismembered from the streets of post-war Russia), naturally Frantsuz’s grandfather suffers under the Purges, and his grandmother is the victim of a partiucularly unpleasant crime. But there is something missing in this, something original. A contrast with W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz is rather striking and to Makine’s detriment, since Sebald uses a special style and has the real sense of memory and description that Makine only thinks he has.
There is a certain tendency to use commonplaces about the essence of Russia: “an endless expanse yawning between this German city and Russia, asleep under the snows.” (207) “Russia, like a bear after a long winter, was awaking within me. A pitiless, beautiful, absurd, unique Russia. A Russia pitted against the rest of the world by it somber destiny.” (142) “Russia has no limits, neither in goodness nor in evil.” (146) “…this immensity that stretches from the Black Sea to Mongolia, and which is known as the `steppe’…” These are not particularly thoughtful or original comments. (And there is a tendency to refer to Russia alone. What about the other fourteen Soviet republics?) We get typical touches about long suffering women and about Russian alcoholism. We get sententious pseudo-Proustian touches (“Time, endowed with a grinding irony, and which, by reason of its tricks and inconsistencies, is forever reminding us of its indifferent power.”) There is a mildly amusing joke about how Frantsuz is unable to get his French books published in France, so he claims that his next French book is actually a translation from Russian. The final twist in the plot is extremely unconvincing, it raises all sorts of questions (such as why did Frantsuz’s relatives act the way they did?), is morally pointless and morally underdeveloped, and seems only to offer a retrospective vindication to Frantsuz’s conduct towards his family. Stalin and Brezhnev did almost infinite damage to Russian literature; but they can’t be blamed for all of Makine’s faults, and empty praise of him will not cure the suffering they caused.
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