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The Gates of the Forest

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  532 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Gregor—a teenaged boy, the lone survivor of his family—is hiding from the Germans in the forest. He hides in a cave, where he meets a mysterious stranger who saves his life. He hides in the village, posing as a deaf-mute peasant boy. He hides among the partisans of the Jewish resistance. But where, he asks, is God hiding? And where can one find redemption in a world that G ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 16th 1995 by Schocken (first published 1964)
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4.08  · 
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 ·  532 ratings  ·  26 reviews

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Nov 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book, but for me, it's too long for what it is. Gregor's story could be told in much less space. The writing is beautiful, as always, and the philosophical/religious musings are as layered and astute as always. I love Elie Wiesel's writing, and I really wanted to love this like I love Dawn and The Accident, two books that took me from liking Wiesel to loving him. But this book just doesn't hold up to me. Parts of the story are intense and fascinating, and other parts are too drawn o ...more
May 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jewish-reading
The book was confusing. Full of emotion. Pulls you in without understanding, and I think that's the point. Such sadness but it teaches the importance of laughter, love and happiness. The future is not open, but is shaped by the past. A few memorable parts of the book include the following; A chance meeting can change the whole world and bring all things into question. Nothing exists purely on its own, past and future can be conceived only as a function of the present, a present which constantly ...more
I can't figure out how to grade this book. It's surprisingly clumsily written and awkwardly constructed - I don't remember Night, Dawn, or The Accident being like that at all. Its meandering weirdness reads like a poorly translated fairytale; I couldn't help feeling like it had been rushed, or left unedited, or written while half-asleep. And yet somehow it still managed to move me in the very last chapters, deeply and profoundly move me, in the way I'd been hoping to be moved when I picked it up ...more
Shaun Mackay
May 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Not a tough read lengthwise, but a profoundly deep one. There is much that the reader can ponder after each chapter, relating to one's own life. The main character, Gregor, in his attempt at escape from a holocaust-driven decimation of his village, also escapes from the "self". His existence is one of duality with the spirit apparition Gavriel.
The duality theme is one of Wiesel's repeated points in several of his works, and shares that in common with other noted writers, such as Nabokov(i.e.-
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mr Wiesel had this ability to write at a very high level, morally and intellectually, using a simple story and simple words.

"The Gates of the Forest" opens with a four part parable(?) about finding salvation. The remainder of the book is told in four parts: the story of Gregor/Gavriel surviving during WW2 in Hungary.

I picked up a theme of faith compared to self determination. Gregor struggled with this throughout the book. And I never quite new if Gavriel was a real character or something else.
Jul 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Hard to get into, but good. This book is about faith and doubt. It is written in the form of the story of Gregor, a young Hungarian jew in hiding in the woods during the Holocaust. The story is less about his physical journey than the spiritual.

If I had the patience, I would re-read this because I think that there was some symbolism that evaded me this time.

Nathan Albright
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: challenge-2018
This book seems pretty much in the wheelhouse of Wisel's writings if you are familiar with his fictional work as a whole.  If this is your first encounter with one of his books that is not Night, there might be a lot of surprises, but if you have read some of the author's work before there is a lot here that is strikingly familiar, although the work is a beautiful one.  It is not necessary for a book to be surprising to be an enjoyable read, for even though this work presented few surprises, it ...more
Sarah Schuelke
Too confusing and emotional for my liking. Too much philosophy.
Diego Fleitas
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, this book was a rush, a wall of words. But even using the words "wall" and "word" in reference to the sheer poetry that Wiesel writes is nothing short of apropos and in fair reference to themes that meant so much throughout the text. I found that his style invited me as a reader to feel a range of emotions, and in a very organic way -- the ways in which he shows the reaffirming quality of faith (as well as it's perceived flaws) is subtle. Similarly, human hate and love are treated in the s ...more
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"At the gates of the forest ... is sanctity which shames our religions, and reality which discredits our heroes,"-- Emerson, not referenced but implicit in book. This little book moved me greatly. It begins and ends almost abstractly. The middle amazed me at never having been turned to film, building in action to a scene so dramatically visual, so deeply revealing of anti-Semitic roots that I had to get out John Shelby Spong's "the Sins of Scripture" to RE-read his chapter on the subject. Althou ...more
Oct 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
This was an intensely dark and psychological book, one whose hauntingly real context makes for a very tortuous read. Set against the backdrop of the Shoah, this is the story of a young man who has narrowly escaped deportation. He flees to a cave in the forest and later to other parts of the back country. The reader is then witness to his slow and most certain loss of faculties and self. Much of the dialogue feels like a page torn out of _Waiting for Godot_; but the tragic element is that this lo ...more
Rebecca McPhedran
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is an amazing look into the life and thoughts of a survivor. Gregor is a Jewish fugitive, hiding in the forest from Hungarian soldiers. The book takes place over three seasons, during that time a man saves his life. He also hides as a deaf-mute in a village, and hides with some Jewish dissenters. This story is very dark and lonesome. It really gives the reader an in depth look at how utterly alone Gregor is. He is always on a search for the man who saved his life in the cave. They had ...more
Faith Bradham
Dec 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: holocaust
I've never read any of Wiesel's fiction, only Night, so I was quite delighted to learn how beautifully he writes fiction. Not only does he successfully convey the utter physical and emotional destruction that the Holocaust wreaked on its victims, he does so in a heartbreakingly lovely way. I had to bookmark several passages for their beauty alone.
Sep 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
I can only say that it is very well written and Gregor's relationship with Gavriel is quite interesting. Elie Wiesel is, of course, quite poetic, to the point and understated, but sometimes what he writes can be difficult to follow. When I read this story, I really did it for the wordsmithing rather than anything else.

Hailie Falconbridge
Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Another brilliant book written by none other than Elie Wiesel. This story is about a boy named Gregor who is hiding from the Nazis. He meets a guy named Gavriel who ends up being captured by the Nazis and is imprisoned. Overall, this book was very well written. Love Elie's descriptions when it came to Gregor's thoughts and his encounters while he was living with Maria and Yanel.
Apr 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 60-books-in-2011
This book starts off heavy and a little slow, but the story actually starts moving faster once you get a quarter of the way through it. It's a short book, but I found myself wanting to mark almost every page for the beautiful lines they had - this is a book you can read again and again and still get something new out of it.
Oct 31, 2012 rated it liked it
I want to rate this book higher because it so amazing but i did not look forward to reading it. It was often a chore. I put this on me more than the author. It is hard to access the multiple levels at which the story is written. Although it is a slender volume it took me longer to read than many heftier tomes. On the plus side it made me think all the way through. Not brain candy.
Sep 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
After reading a couple of Wiesel's other books, the themes are similar in this book, but it's so much more alive and interesting. What an amazing story of one man's survival. I want to read it again.
Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Bob by: Jack Matthews
all time favorite Elie Wiesel book
Jul 24, 2010 rated it liked it
A bit obscure, but a worthy read.
Jul 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nobel-prize
He won the Nobel Peace Prize, not the Literature Prize, although I think he should win the Literature Prize as well. That's why I put it in this category.
Feb 26, 2008 rated it liked it
more wiesel
Mar 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Of all his books, this one is my favorite. Probably falls in my top 5.
Sheila Nudd
Aug 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The most compelling and well written of all his books. He is truly one of the few holy men.
Colin Flanigan
In honor of his death I am putting up one of the books I read of his. This is worth it, although hard to find.
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Eliezer Wiesel was a Romania-born American novelist, political activist, and Holocaust survivor of Hungarian Jewish descent. He was the author of over 40 books, the best known of which is Night, a memoir that describes his experiences during the Holocaust and his imprisonment in several concentration camps.

Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. The Norwegian Nobel Committee called him a
“And what is a friend? More than a father, more than a brother: a traveling companion, with him, you can conquer the impossible, even if you must lose it later. Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing. It is a friend that you communicate the awakening of a desire, the birth of a vision or a terror, the anguish of seeing the sun disappear or of finding that order and justice are no more. That's what you can talk about with a friend. Is the soul immortal, and if so why are we afraid to die? If God exists, how can we lay claim to freedom, since He is its beginning and its end? What is death, when you come down to it? The closing of a parenthesis, and nothing more? And what about life? In the mouth of a philosopher, these questions may have a false ring, but asked during adolescence or friendship, they have the power to change being: a look burns and ordinary gestures tend to transcend themselves. What is a friend? Someone who for the first time makes you aware of your loneliness and his, and helps you to escape so you in turn can help him. Thanks to him who you can hold your tongue without shame and talk freely without risk. That's it.” 40 likes
“We're alone, but we are capable of communicating to one another both our loneliness and our desire to break through it. You say, 'I'm alone.' Someone answers, 'I'm alone too.' There's a shift in the scale of power. A bridge is thrown between the two abysses.” 20 likes
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