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Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel: Embracing memory and madness

Elie Wiesel: Embracing memory and madness

"Purple in the grays. Vermillion in the orange shadows, on a cold, fine day."

-- Pierre Bonnard, from his notebooks

Manhattan in a winter storm seems galaxies away from Bonnard's bright interiors. I carry an exhibition catalog from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Elie Wiesel's office in Midtown.

As we talk, the bright yellow cover blinks up from the coffee table, louder than the thousands of books in his office; louder than his voice, which is soft with a strong French accent and something else.

Wiesel is 81. He is modestly dressed in a blue blazer, gray pants and black shoes. His manner is a gentle combination of elegance and...