Steven T. Katz and Alan Rosen, eds. Elie Wiesel: Jewish, Literary, and Moral Perspectives. Indiana University Press. 312 pages. $30.00.
This comprehensive critical survey of Elie Wiesel’s profound and variegated achievement goes beyond previous anthologies, as Wiesel has gone beyond the scope of his early body of work. One of the great merits of the collection is the compactness of the essays. Not one goes on longer than it needs to. In growing a book out of what must have been a powerhouse conference, the editors have not allowed too much growing by way of over-elaboration.
The twenty-four essays are grouped into five parts: “Bible and Talmud,” “Hasidism,” “Belle Lettres,” “Testimony,” and “Legacies.” Though these groupings are useful courtesies for the reader, they in fact underscore the interrelatedness of Wiesel’s concerns and modes of expression. “Legacies” could just as well have been named “Pedagogy,” and an essay not now placed in that section would fit there just as well as the ones already there.
Most of the essays take great pains to establish a critical, historical, or theoretical context – to create a lens through which to view Wiesel’s contribution. In a few cases, the context dwarfs the commentary that is directly focused on Wiesel. Such is the academic habit. Nonetheless, we come out of this chorus of scholarly voices with a much-enriched understanding of Wiesel’s place in the cultural pantheon of the twentieth century. And not only the Jewish spectrum. . . .
To see the full review, as it will appear in the Winter 2013 issue of JEWISH BOOK WORLD, click here: Elie Wiesel: Jewish, Literary, and Moral Perspectives edited by Steven T. Katz