cover image Elie Wiesel: Jewish, Literary, and Moral Perspectives

Elie Wiesel: Jewish, Literary, and Moral Perspectives

Edited by Steven T. Katz and Alan Rosen. Indiana Univ., $30 (312p) ISBN 978-0-253-00805-3

Elie Wiesel is best known for his humanitarian efforts and his memoirs detailing his experience as a Jew during the Holocaust—especially in the Night Trilogy, comprising Night, Dawn, and Day. However, the Nobel laureate’s oeuvre is far richer than that, as evidenced by this illuminating collection of 24 academic essays covering Wiesel’s interpretations of the Bible, retellings of Talmudic stories, his role in Neo-Hasidism, his post-Holocaust theology, and more. Lay readers put off by academese (e.g., “Rabbinic interpretation... is not simply the free exercise of imagination but always in itself a kind of physiognomy of the biblical text”) need not apply, though dedicated scholars will relish the thoughtful exegesis from experts such as Everett Fox, Arthur Green, and Irving Greenberg. Nancy Harrowitz, a professor at Boston University, weighs in with perhaps the most intriguing offering; in “Lot’s Wife and ‘A Plea for the Dead’: Commemoration, Memory, and Shame,” she examines Wiesel’s idea that the familiar Biblical figure’s choice to look back and engage with the past was a heroic one, and not an act of mindless disregard for the consequences. Indeed, this is a valuable look back on Wiesel’s heroic authorial career. (May)