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Ethics after Auschwitz?

Primo Levi’s and Elie Wiesel’s Response


Carole J. Lambert

Ethics after Auschwitz? Primo Levi’s and Elie Wiesel’s Response demonstrates how, after their horrific experiences in Auschwitz, both Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel could have deservedly expressed rage and bitterness for the rest of their lives. Housed in the same barracks in the depths of hell, a dark reality surpassing Dante’s vivid images portrayed in The Inferno, they chose to speak, write, and work for a better world, never allowing the memory of those who did not survive to fade. Why and how did they make this choice? What influenced their values before Auschwitz and their moral decision making after it? What can others who have suffered less devastating traumas learn from them? «The quest is in the question», Wiesel often tells his students. This book is a quest for hope and goodness emerging from the Shoah’s deepest «night».


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Acknowledgments ix


Acknowledgments I thank Azusa Pacific University’s President Jon R. Wallace, former Provost Michael M. Whyte, and Vice Provost for Graduate Programs and Research Paul W. Gray for granting me a three-month research and writing leave from May 15 to August 15, 2010, which enabled me to complete this book. Their ongoing support of my Holocaust studies and texts has greatly encouraged me. I am also grateful to Abbylin H. Sellers, my exceedingly competent research assistant, who miraculously and promptly found for me books and articles from all corners of the world. I am equally appreciative of Susan J. Ferrante, my superb administrative assistant, who formatted this text beautifully, graciously handled Office of Research matters in my absence, and patiently taught me important computer skills which forwarded this project immensely. Claudio Graziani, my Roman tutor, kindly taught me Italian weekly for three or more years, carefully checking and correcting my translations of Primo Levi’s and others’ Italian texts; I remain greatly indebted to him. Theodore Zev Weiss, Director of the Holocaust Education Foundation in Skokie, Illinois, is instrumental in my growth as a scholar of Holocaust literature and ethics. His Holocaust Educational Foundation Fellowship to the Twelfth Summer Institute on the Holocaust and Jewish Civilization, June 17–29, 2007, enabled me to study with outstanding scholars from around the country all aspects of the Shoah. This theoretical and factual grounding was then supplemented by his Holocaust Educational Foundation Eastern European Seminar for Faculty, June 8–21, 2009, a study tour which...

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