The Antiwitness: Piotr Rawicz
Was Boris any closer to me than Yuri ? Was he any more real ? My
two halves seemed to be melting away into the giant landscape that
surrounded my days.
Can it be that what we regard as “authenticity,” as “tangible truth,”
is even more false than falsehood and fiction itself? This hypothesis
may be absolutely right, for “truth” and “reality” are invested with an
arrogant and outrageous pretentiousness that is even less justifiable than
the most reckless of lies and the least consistent of fictions. It was all
very well Boris’s presuming on his “legitimacy” vis-à-vis Yuri: the latter
was not without weighty arguments of his own. Their quarrel, if quarrel
there was, went on so long ago that it no longer even succeeded in
“harrowing” my inner self. Though (and this was the main question) was
there anything whatever to harrow ?
—from Blood from the Sky
Almost none of the books that we now think of as Holocaust “classics” were immediately recognized as such. In 1947, when Primo Levi first sought to publish If This Is a Man, the book was rejected by Einaudi, the prestigious Italian publishing house that would eventually become his home, and international recognition would wait for more than a decade. The original Yiddish version of Elie Wiesel’s Night, which appeared in 1956 in an Argentinian series of