Elie Wiesel (1928–2016) was one of the most important literary voices to emerge from the Holocaust. The Nazis took the lives of most of his family, destroyed the community in which he was raised, and subjected him to ghettoization, imprisonment in Auschwitz and Buchenwald, and a death march. It is remarkable not only that Wiesel survived and found a way to write about his experiences, but that he did so with elegance and profundity. His novels grapple with questions of tradition, memory, trauma, madness, atrocity, and faith. The Struggle for Understanding examines Wiesel’s literary, religious, and cultural roots and the indelible impact of the Holocaust on his storytelling. Grouped in sections on Hasidic origins, the role of the Other, theology and tradition, and later works, the chapters cover the entire span of Wiesel’s career. Books analyzed include the novels Dawn, The Forgotten, The Gates of the Forest, The Town Beyond the Wall, The Testament, The Time of the Uprooted, The Sonderberg Case, and Hostage, as well as his memoir, Night. What emerges is a portrait of Wiesel’s work in its full literary richness.
“This is a marvelous collection. The essays are written by a new generation of scholars who have probed Elie Wiesel’s work deeply and used the manifest tools of their many disciplines to explore some of the most pressing questions relating to the Holocaust, to memory, and to Wiesel himself. I was deeply impressed.” — Michael Berenbaum, American Jewish University
Victoria Nesfield is Research Coordinator in the Humanities Research Centre at the University of York, in the United Kingdom.
Philip Smith is Assistant Professor of English at the University of the Bahamas.
Jesus was a skilled storyteller and perceptive teacher who used parables from everyday life to effectively convey his message and meaning. Life in first-century Palestine was very different from our world today, and many traditional interpretations of Jesus’ stories ignore this disparity and have often allowed anti-Semitism and misogyny to color their perspectives.
In this wise, entertaining, and educational book, Amy-Jill Levine offers a fresh, timely reinterpretation of Jesus’ narratives. In Short Stories by Jesus, she analyzes these “problems with parables,” taking readers back in time to understand how their original Jewish audience understood them. Levine reveals the parables’ connections to first-century economic and agricultural life, social customs and morality, Jewish scriptures and Roman culture. With this revitalized understanding, she interprets these moving stories for the contemporary reader, showing how the parables are not just about Jesus, but are also about us—and when read rightly, still challenge and provoke us two thousand years later.