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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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Index 173


Index A Abderhalden, Emil, 160 Accident, The (Wiesel) home in, 86 sainthood in, 43, 49 sexuality in, 43–44, 45 Acide sulfurique (Nothomb), 54–57 adultery of father of Levi, 155 of grandmother of Levi, 148, 149 in literature of Levi and Wiesel, 42– 45 Nazism and, 159 relationship to theft and murder, 45–46 adversus Judaeos rhetoric, 133–34, 135 agnosticism atheistic humanism and, 5 ethics and, 164 of Levi, 95, 99–100 Ten Commandments and, 162 Alberto (friend of Levi), 7, 50, 51 Alter, Robert on metaphor in Bible, 45 on name of God, 119, 121, 123 on Sabbath observance, 131–32 on swearing falsely, 123 on use of stone tablets for Ten Commandments, 143 Alto Solo (Volodine), 54 altruism and survival, 7–8 Angier, Carole, on Levi bearing witness, 9–10 centaur image and, 107 coping with dementia of mother, 8, 150–51 death, 31, 32, 33 justice and, 11, 164–65 rejection of God, 119–20 suicide, 70–71 wife’s background, 39 Anissimov, Myriam, on Levi, 5, 6 anti-Semitism as bearing false witness, 73 Crusades, 134–35 delegitimization of Judaism and, 133, 135–36 early Christian, 133–34 as rational, 26 ‚Argon‛ (Levi), 147–48 asceticism and mysticism, 83 atheistic humanism, 5, 114, 139 Augustine, 134 Auschwitz II-Birkenau bombing by Allies, 63 dehumanization process, 66–67 destruction of dignity as essence, 113 hangings, 68–69 inability to leave psychologically, 81, 83, 86 infirmary, 69–70 layout, 67 Muselmann in, 162 overview of life at, 15 prayer...

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