Monthly Archives: October 2014

Until The Dawn’s Light

What has caught my attention the most at the moment about Appelfeld’s Until the Dawn’s Light is the way the story begins. As Miranda Burgess said in the lecture, the first chapter starts on a train and brings to mind the trains heading to concentration camps. Immediately the story seems to be about the holocaust even though it is set before the holocaust, and this theme and feeling of the approaching holocaust is constant throughout the whole novel with details as simple as having a character named Adolf. Appelfeld takes the terrible power and emotions of the holocaust and applies it in a context so similar to the holocaust that even though it’s indirect, it’s impossible not to notice it.

The other fascinating aspect of the beginning of the story is its style and presentation. Although it is consistently nonlinear and all the chapters are short, it is most jarring in the first few chapters. Details leak in small bits through short flashbacks and fragments of dialogue, and a great sense of foreshadowing is immediately created through Appelfeld’s precise control of the readers’ knowledge and understanding of the story, and this technique is most effective during the exposition of the narrative. The reader always has a hint of what is to come because of what precedes it, just like how we know the holocaust is coming given the setting of the story and the antisemitism in it.

The Republic: Book IX

In the 9th book of Plato’s Republic, Socrates continues to explain why living a just life is better than living an unjust life. To make the point clear, he focuses on the most unjust possible life: the life of a tyrant. He claims that tyrants are driven primarily by the appetite part of their soul. They are overwhelmed by greed and their souls are put into disorder because of how much they are controlled by this terrible part of their soul.

Socrates claims that the life of a tyrant, particularly a political tyrant is the least pleasant and most unhappy life possible. In fact, Socrates is even somehow able to use math to determine exactly how much more pleasant a king’s life is than a tyrant’s. He says in 587e, “if someone wants to say how far a king’s pleasure is from a tyrant’s, he’ll find, if he completes the calculation, that a king king lives seven hundred and twenty-nine times more pleasantly than a tyrant and that a tyrant is the same number of times more wretched.”

In order to accept what Socrates says as the truth, you’d have to accept a lot of different factors. For instance, I disagree with Socrates’ main points because I don’t think there is such thing as a soul, and I think tyranny can be motivated by things other than appetite, such as distorted world views.