The Night Summary

Within the literature of the Holocaust, is known by the name of The Night a novel, born from the pen of the writer Elie Wiesel, which was published for the first time in 1956, thanks to the editorial work of the Polish Israelite Central Union, who achieved a first edition in Argentina, country that saw the birth of the first version of this story, which bore the title (Un di Velt Hot Geshvign, for its original title in yidis).


On the transcendence of the work

According to what the Critics have pointed out, The Night can be considered one of the most unpleasant human testimonies about the Holocaust, only compared to the novel If this is a Cousin Levi man,  or the Diary of Anne Frank, stories with which it shares the precise narrative, stripped of adornments, but forceful, about one of the most terrifying events that Humanity has executed and suffered during the twentieth century: the Jewish Holocaust.

In this sense, Elie Wiesel uses his own story and the horror he experienced during his first youth, when he was arrested and taken to the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz, and later to Buchenwald, where he lived for a long period, between 1944 and 1945, along with his father, who wasn´t as lucky as this writer, succumbing to a heavy beating by his guards, while his son listened, in the upper bunk, totally paralyzed, and begging not to get the same luck to him.


This is how this and many other experiences, of the same level of barbarism and terror, marked forever the life of Wiesel, who after his liberation in 1945, left for Paris, where for a whole decade, according to the author himself, ruminated in solitude his pain and anger against the world, and especially against a God, whom he declared dead. After all this time, in which he refused to talk about his experience in these concentration camps, he decided to write his story.

Then, in 1954, the first version of The Night was born, which was written by Wiesel in Yidis, in 862 pages, which he titled And the world was silent. This story was then taken by the Polish Israelite Central Union, and published in Argentina, in 245 pages. Four years later, the French publisher Les éditions de Minuit also became interested in Wiesel’s story, publishing in 1958 a 178-page version, which took for the first time the title La Nuit (The Night, in French).

Finally, in 1960, Hill & Wang published in the United States a modified version, written for a wider public, which was entitled The Night and which constitutes the current version of this book, which has been translated into more than fifty different languages.

Likewise, The Nightis the first book of a trilogy, which is called Trilogy of the night, and is composed by this first title, as well as the sequels The dawn and The Day, where basically, as Wiesel refers, tells the story of how he was led to death, and in the middle of it managed to find the dawn, and therefore life.

As for the exact content of Elie Wiesel’s novel The Night, it can basically be said that it tells the story of how an orthodox Jewish man is abducted from his life forever, becoming a witness to a horror, who has the opportunity to warn others, without anyone believing him.

In this way, The Nightbegins by introducing its protagonist, Elie, who is shown as a young man devoted to his Jewish faith, who spent hours in the morning to read the Talmud, while there was no afternoon to miss the Synagogue, where he could be moved in his faith to tears. Likewise, during this first part of the book, some conversations are presented with the keeper of the synagogue, Moses-Shames, with whom he talks about God, topics that serve to expose several statements about this Jewish deity.

All this happens in Hungary, while Europe succumbs after years of World War II. In fact at some point the story takes a big turn, when the Hungarian government issues a decree stating that all Jews who could not prove, with documents, their citizenship, should leave the country.

So overnight Moshe-Shames, the synagogue janitor with whom Elie shared his long theological conversations, among hundreds of other Jews, is transferred to a cattle train, where he is expelled from Hungary, and taken to Poland.

After living the horror, Moses manages to escape from the concentration camp, and returns home, to begin to tell everything he has seen to the other Jews, to whom he begs them to listen and believe him.

This is how this man tells how, after being taken off the train in Poland, the Jews were taken to a vacant lot, where they were forced to dig a large pit, where they were buried, after shooting them in the back of the head. Moses tells this terrible story, among other horror stories, in a frenetic way, to warn other Jews how hell is coming, and how God will not be able to do anything.

However, to those who listened to him, his stories seemed so unreal, so terrifying, that no one believed him, and on the contrary, they considered that the man had gone mad. However, the young Elie, who knew Moses, insisted to his father that this man was right, and that the best thing to do would be to flee to Palestine, in order to avoid falling prey to barbarism. However, Elie’s father insisted that they were hallucinations, and that it was too late for him to start another life.

Despite the warnings, and the disbelief of those who listened to Moses, the story took its course, and the prophecy came true, giving way to horror, and forever marking the fate of Elie’s family, who were finally taken to the concentration camp, where they would find on their own skin that what Moses announced to them was sadly true.

Image: portrait of Elie Wiesel, author of The Night/ Source: wikipedia.org

The Night Summary
Source: Education  
October 31, 2019


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