Sunday, July 3, 2016

Elie Wiesel

Wiesel's initial version of "Night" was written in Yiddish. In it he flamed forth and craved revenge. He wrote: 

"At the end of the war, I refused to return to my hometown [in Hungary, where he watched neighbors smile as the Jews, including those in his family, were marched out] because I didn't want to see any more the faces they revealed behind their disguises on that day of expulsion. However, from one perspective, I am sorry I didn't return home, at least for a few days, in order to take revenge - to avenge the experts of hypocrisy, the inhabitants of my town. Then it would have been possible to take revenge!"

I remember hearing Wiesel talk at B.U. about Palestinian terrorism, and say, "We, the survivors of the camps, turned aside from revenge. We are thus better than the Palestinians."

I remember feeling that I wished he and those like him had exacted revenge. I remember feeling that Palestinians would then have suffered less the full brunt of Jewish rage.

Those were my feelings, then.

My feeling now, is that subtracting rage and anger from "Night", which he did, when it went from the initial Yiddish to translation, diminished the book and the author.

It made him less complete, more sanctimonious.

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