Night Study Guide
Introduction to Night
Night is a memoir by Elie Wiesel, published in 1960. Wiesel, a Jewish author, based the novel on his own experiences in Nazi concentration camps between 1941 and 1945. The relatively short English translation of Night, which totals around 116 pages, was adapted from Wiesel’s original Yiddish manuscript titled And The World Remained Silent, which was more than 800 pages. Both versions of the text highlight the anger, fear, and disillusionment that plagued Wiesel during his imprisonment, but the English translation places a greater focus on the literary and philosophical elements of Wiesel’s story. The sparse minimalism of the English translation is often credited as giving the narrative a greater emotional resonance, especially for non-Jewish readers.
Though Night is a memoir, it is often regarded as being only semi-autobiographical on account of the liberties Wiesel takes while recounting his experiences. However, though the exact details are not always accurate, the emotional truth of the narrative has made it enduringly popular with readers and historians alike. Wiesel recounts how the Holocaust changed his relationship with God, whom he began to resent for allowing the horrors at Auschwitz to persist. Night is a quintessentially Jewish text, and Wiesel’s relationship with topics such as death, history, personal identity, and religion itself are based in his faith. In this sense, Night is not only a personal memoir but also a cultural artifact and, in Wiesel’s words, a deposition against the inhumanity of the Nazi regime and of all who allowed such cruelty to exist.
A Brief Biography of Elie Wiesel
Elie Wiesel (1928–2016) was a Holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and celebrated writer from Sighet, Romania. His harrowing memoir Night recalls his experience being deported to Auschwitz at the age of fifteen. After being separated from his mother and sisters, Wiesel and his father were transferred to several work camps, where his father was later beaten to death by Nazi guards. Out of the entire family, only Wiesel and his two older sisters lived to see the end of the Holocaust. Wiesel later married Marion Rose, another Holocaust survivor, and published several novels, nonfiction works, and another memoir during his lifetime. Night is an internationally acclaimed account of the horrors of Nazi persecution. Wiesel and his wife founded the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, which aims to educate people and combat injustice and indifference.