A Mad Desire to Dance: Book summary and reviews of A Mad Desire to Dance by Elie Wiesel

A Mad Desire to Dance

By Elie Wiesel

A Mad Desire to Dance
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2009,
    288 pages.

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Book Summary

Doriel, a European expatriate living in New York, suffers from a profound sense of desperation and loss. His mother, a member of the Resistance, survived World War II only to die in an accident, together with his father, soon after. Doriel was a child during the war, and his knowledge of the Holocaust is largely limited to what he finds in movies, newsreels, and books—but it is enough. Doriel’s parents and their secrets haunt him, leaving him filled with longing but unable to experience the most basic joys in life. He plunges into an intense study of Judaism, but instead of finding solace, he comes to believe that he is possessed by a dybbuk.

Surrounded by ghosts, spurred on by demons, Doriel finally turns to Dr. Thérèse Goldschmidt, a psychoanalyst who finds herself particularly intrigued by her patient. The two enter into an uneasy relationship based on exchange: of dreams, histories, and secrets. Despite Doriel’s initial resistance, Dr. Goldschmidt helps to bring him to a crossroads—and to a shocking denouement.

In Doriel’s journey into the darkest regions of the soul, Elie Wiesel has written one of his most profoundly moving works of fiction, grounded always by his unparalleled moral compass.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"While the novel is not always easy sledding, there are ample rewards - intellectual and visceral - for the willing reader." - Publishers Weekly.

"... this dense and difficult novel expands on some of the provocative themes in Nobel Prize winner Wiesel's celebrated memoir, Night." - Library Journal.

"A Mad Desire to Dance reminds us, with force, that Wiesel’s writing is alive and strong. The master has once again found here a startling freshness." - Le Monde des Livres.

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Author Information

Elie Wiesel Author Biography

Photo: Sergey Bermeniev

Elie Wiesel was born on September 30th, 1928 in Sighet, Transylvania, which is now part of Romania. He was fifteen years old when he and his family were deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz. His mother Sarah and younger sister Tzipora perished, his two older sisters, Hilda and Beatrice, survived. Elie and his father Shlomo were later transported to Buchenwald, where his father died shortly before the camp was liberated in April 1945.

After the war, Elie Wiesel studied in Paris and later became a journalist. During an interview with the distinguished French writer, Francois Mauriac, he was persuaded to write about his experiences in the death camps. The result was his internationally acclaimed memoir, La Nuit or Night, which has since been translated into more than thirty languages.

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Elie Wiesel: eh-lee vee-ZEL

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