A selection of quotations, interviews, and tributes to the acclaimed Israeli novelist

The Paris Review

“You know, God is everywhere. He is in the human heart. He is in the plants. He is in the animals. Everywhere. You have to be very careful when you speak to human beings because the man who is standing in front of you has something divine in himself. Trees, they have something divine in them. Animals of course. And even objects, they have something of the divine.”

—Aharon Appelfeld, The Paris Review

Aharon Appelfeld, one of Israel’s foremost contemporary writers, died today at the age of eighty-five.

Appelfeld was the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and memoir, many of which derived their inspiration and force from his childhood in war-torn Europe. He was born in Romania, where he was apprehended by Nazi-allied forces at the age of nine. His mother and grandmother were shot, and he and his father were eventually sent to the Transnistria concentration camps. Appelfeld described his internment there as a kind of transformation: “I became a small animal. It was the wish for life, the wish to survive.” In 1942, he managed to escape; he spent two years in hiding. At one point, he lived in the forest among a band of thieves, and, later, in the home of a Ukrainian prostitute. He joined the Soviet army, spent time in a displaced persons camp in Italy, and finally immigrated to Palestine in 1946, at age fifteen. Nearly a decade later, after spotting his father’s name on a list of survivors, they were reunited in Israel.

— ‘Aharon Appelfeld: “You cannot be a writer of death”‘, The Daily, The Paris Review

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Eric Schlosser (The New Yorker) reveals the surprising historical accuracies of the film, which celebrates its sixtieth anniversary this month
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Stanley Kubrick (right) plays chess with George C. Scott on the set of Dr Strangelove: Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

“Despite public assurances that everything was fully under control, in the winter of 1964, while “Dr. Strangelove” was playing in theatres and being condemned as Soviet propaganda, there was nothing to prevent an American bomber crew or missile launch crew from using their weapons against the Soviets. Kubrick had researched the subject for years, consulted experts, and worked closely with a former R.A.F. pilot, Peter George, on the screenplay of the film. George’s novel about the risk of accidental nuclear war, “Red Alert,” was the source for most of “Strangelove” ’s plot. Unbeknownst to both Kubrick and George, a top official at the Department of Defense had already sent a copy of “Red Alert” to every member of the Pentagon’s Scientific Advisory Committee for Ballistic Missiles. At the Pentagon, the book was taken seriously as a cautionary tale about what might go wrong. Even Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara privately worried that an accident, a mistake, or a rogue American officer could start a nuclear war.”

— Eric Schlosser, The New Yorker

— Open Culture