In reading Elie Wiesel's preface to "Night", why does Wiesel see night as an important book? (pages viii-xv)

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kellanj eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In his preface to Night, Wiesel discusses how his novel came to be written and why it is important. He starts with a powerful opening, saying,

If in my lifetime I was to write only one book, this would be the one.

He says that all of his literary works after Night cannot be understood without first reading this book. The story made him who he is both as a writer and as a person.

Wiesel's writing in the opening part of the preface involves introspection about his purpose for writing the novel. He wonders if he did it to stop from going mad or if he did it to go mad so he could understand the horrendous actions of the Nazis. He wonders if he wrote the book to stop history from repeating itself or to record the ordeal he went through in Auschwitz.

Ultimately, Wiesel says that he no longer remembers what he hoped to get out of the book when first writing it. However, he knows that it was incredibly important that he did write Night.

Perhaps the key idea from the preface comes when Wiesel says that this book helped his life become focused on fulfilling the role of a witness to the horrors committed by evil actors. He views his job as a writer in terms of preventing evildoers from getting away with one last victory—erasing their actions from human memory.

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ladyvols1 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Elie Wiesel's reason for writing this book was more than a desire to tell his story.  Although several of his friends encouraged him to share his life and history of the Jewish Holocaust during WWII, his true goal was to educate people.  He wanted us to reflect, discuss, and analyze the determining factors of the War and the Holocaust. He hoped to create this dialogue in the hopes that our future generations would be kinder and more humane to each other.  He wanted to tell his story in hopes that this type of tragedy would never happen again.  He was rewarded with a Nobel Prize for his efforts and his novel is required reading in many high schools all over the world. 

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