Before sharing my review I make a small disclaimer. I read Et La Lumiere Fut (And There Was Light) in French and not English since I wanted to experience the book in its original language as well as to practice my French. However, I am purposefully leaving my review in English to make it accessible to more readers.
And There Was Light is an enthralling tale of one blind man’s poignant struggle for survival against insurmountable odds. Jacques Lusseyran shares a deep insight into what it means for him find his place in this world as a blind person. This is in fact the subject of about 3/4ths of the book, while the last 1/4 or so covers his experiences as a Nazi prisoner. What I enjoyed most about And There Was Light was the deep philosophical insights that Lusseyran shared on life and happiness. It reminded me of a quote from Jean-Paul Sartre “Everything has been figured out, except how to live.” I think Lusseyran really captures “how to live” through his autobiography, especially when he shares how he survived the indescribably harrowing experience of Buchenwald concentration camp. Another interesting topic that And There Was Light touched on was the obscure philosophy of Anthroposophy which was founded by Rudolph Steiner. It seems to have had a profound influence on Jacques and his approach to life and spirituality which is evident throughout the book. The only minor critique I have of And There Was Light is that at times, especially in the beginning of the book, I found it very longwinded and overly detailed in regards his blindness, which made it hard for me to get into the story at first. Perhaps this may be due to the French language version which I read, since French can be quite flowery and verbose. Nevertheless, I would recommend this book to anyone in need of inspiration in life, as Jacques Lusseyran’s life story is truly amazing!
Have you read any inspiring biographies? Which one is your favorite and why? Please feel free to share your thoughts in a comment below.