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Elie Wiesel: Critics of Night

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Elie Wiesel: Critics of Night

Of all the Holocaust novelist, none have had a bigger impact on modern non-fiction than Elie Wiesel. In Wiesel's books and memoirs he tells of his life surviving the Holocaust and how it has changed his life now. His most famous book Night describes his actual account of being taken from his home and being forced into Auschwitz, Germany. False or factual, Elie Wiesel's novel Night has stimulated much controversy. Alexander Cockburn believed that Night was a complete fraud. He said, "When it comes to historical facts, Wiesel just does not make the grade."

Jane Elizabeth Daugherty writes about the criticism from other writers and gives some of her own input in Novel for Students. Writer and author of Silence in the Novels of Elie Wiesel, Simon P. Sibelman describes Wiesel as a "navi", or prophet, who speaks in order to move others "to... redefine the human condition." Sibelman also writes that "Wiesel composes a new psalm, one which reflects the negativity of Auschwitz and the eclipse of God." Daugherty then discusses D.L. Vanderwerken's opinions about Night. Vanderwerken's essay "Wiesel Night as Anti-Bildungsroman" explores the traditional genre of bildungsroman and its relationship to Wiesel's work. But yet he says that Night is a negative 'bildungsroman'; meaning that Wiesel uses his novels to deal with his development of his life after surviving the Holocaust.

She then ties it up with the importance of Elie's relationship with his father. Elie tries multiple times to save his father's life while they were going through the Nazi death camps in Auschwitz. Ted Estess writes, "Elizer makes only one thing necessary to him: absolute fidelity to his father. God has broken His covenant, His promises to His people; Elizer, in contrast, determines... not to violate his covenant with his father." Wiesel's only reason for trying to stay alive in Auschwitz is because of his father. He has already lost his mother and his little sister within the first few days of their arrival and now only has the hope for his father's life to keep him motivated and push forward. Eliezer is haunted by a desire to abandon his father, and filled with doubts about his own ability to keep the covenant between them. He is given contradictory advice by two veterans of Auschwitz; one tells the newly-arrived men that they must band together in order to survive, while the another tells Elie that he is better off without worrying about anyone but himself (Daugherty). After months of being malnourished, beaten, and some literally frozen to death, Elie's father dies on a railroad car in Buchenwald, in the winter months of 1945. After his death, Eliezer became silent. Daugherty says that his silence symbolizes his own virtual death. Wiesel asserts that the only word that still has meaning at Auschwitz is "furnace", because of the smell of burning flesh.

Alexander Cockburn, writer of the essay "Elie Wiesel's Night a Fraud?" believes that when it comes to historical facts that "Night isn't historically true." He gets input from people such as Eli Pfefferkorn who says that "Night doesn't make the grade. Wiesel made things up in a way that his many subsequent detractors could identify as not untypical of his modus operandi: grasping with deft assurance what people important to his future could want to hear and, by the same token, would not want to hear." Wiesel's original version of Night was published in 1956 in Argentina and was written in Yiddish; it was named Un di Velt Hot Geshvign (And the World Stayed Silent) (Wagner).

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