Elie Wiesel was born on the 30th of September, in 1928, in Sighet, Kingdom of Romania. He was the bright son of Shlomo Wiesel, a great humanitarian, and his mother, Sarah Feig, was a religious lady. His parents played a leading role in his early growth, as his father transferred a strong sense of humanism to his son and encouraged him to study literature. On the other hand, his mother encouraged him to study religious pieces like the Torah. That is how he grew up learning religious and rational practices simultaneously. For religious studies, he stayed at Yeshiva. Moreover, the religious beliefs of his mother and grandfather along with his father’s beliefs regarding Judaism proved prophetic in his later life. Although the first few years were full of colors, their lives took a tragic turn when his father, mother, and sister died in Holocaust and he, too, faced brutalities in the internment camp.
After surviving the holocaust, Elie Wiesel went to France and pursued his studies at the Sorbonne. Therefore, he took up journalism as a major subject and penned his thoughts for Israeli and French publications. His friend François Mauriac, too, encouraged him to pen down his experiences of the Holocaust. Taking this encouragement seriously, Elie fictionalized the horrors and gruesome experiences of the time of imprisonment in his memoir, And the World Would Remain Silent.
Some Important Facts of His Life
- He wrote fifty-seven books in French and English.
- He died on the 2nd of July in 2016 at the age of eighty-seven.
- He has been a professor at various universities around the globe.
- Elie Wiesel and his wife founded a foundation to serve humanity titled, Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.
Elie Wiesel started writing at a young age and gained immense popularity during his lifetime. First, he started his writing career by writing articles to various magazines and newspapers. With the publication of And the World Would Remain Silent in 1956, he became known to the world. At first, it was published in Yiddish, but later, in 1960, it was shortened and published for French and English readers with the titles, La Nuit and Night. The memoir turned out to an acclaimed bestseller. It was not only translated into many languages across the globe but also became a seminal work that truly exhibits the horrors of the Holocaust.
This well-received work followed by two novels, Dawn and Day, published in the years 1961 and 1962 respectively. These two works examined closely the mankind’s unjust and destructive approach toward humanity. His other notable works include Town of Luck, The Gates of the Forest, and The Oath, ouls on Fire: Portraits and Legends of Hasidic Masters, and All Rivers Run to the Sea. Besides expressing his thoughts and feelings in words, he also spoke against injustices and malpractices in various countries like Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and South Africa. Moreover, he was honored worldwide with various awards and taught at the City University of New York.
Elie Wiesel earned huge popularity for his unique style and uncommon ideas expressed in his works. Using a subdued tone and direct style, he discussed the painful experiences he had had during the Holocaust. By applying techniques like irony, contrast, and foreshadowing, he talks about the emotions he experienced in the concentration camps of Buna. He never dealt with fanciful subjects and unnecessary details in his piece; instead, he preferred focusing on the realities he lived through and witnessed in the world around. Also, his works exhibit simple yet seductive diction to enhance the unique perspective presented to the readers. He intentionally used this distinct style to separate himself from other writers. The recurring thematic strands in most of the writings are loss, injustices, and brutalities of the war. Regarding literary devices, he often turns to metaphors, foreshadowing, imagery, and similes to create a unique style.
Some Important Works of Elie Wiesel
- Best Books: Some of his best books include Dawn and Day, The Jews of Silence, A Beggar in Jerusalem, Souls on Fire: Portraits and Legends of Hasidic Masters and The Trial of God and Night be Elie.
Elie Wiesel’s Impacts on Future Literature
Elie Wiesel was a dynamic writer. His unique writing style and literary qualities of his masterpieces brought a revolution in the oppressed and Holocaust writings. This uniqueness impacted a diverse range of writers and critics. Influential figures like Utah senator, Orrin Hatch, considered him a beacon of humanity and hope. Later, various Holocaust survivors took note of his biographical writings and rallied around him to lay the foundation of the Holocaust literature.
- “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.” (The Night Trilogy: Night, Dawn, the Accident)
- “Night is purer than day; it is better for thinking and loving and dreaming. At night everything is more intense, more true. The echo of words that have been spoken during the day takes on a new and deeper meaning. The tragedy of man is that he doesn’t know how to distinguish between day and night. He says things at night that should only be said by day.” (Dawn)
- “For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” (Night)