Anne Frank as Literature

    Brilliant lecture about history & development of Anne Frank's opus I ran across last night - including how much she re-wrote it her last year, how many pages went into it that weren't seen from the original, and from the speaker's view most important, that almost no one's given the book credence as literature in its own right, including a need to view its prose as creativity, not just a document.

    One of the things she apparently does in revision is wipe out the stylistic differences - so instead of Joyce's "Portratit of the Artist" there-was-a-moocow-coming-along-the-road you get the style and diction of a 15-year-old over the entire 3 or so year period (where most kids change quite a bit).

    She notes at the end Frank was putting out 11 new pages a day even while continuing her rewrite - spurred on by the Dutch radio to "save your memoirs" for after the war.

    [Disclosure - I only got a few minutes of the lecture this morning, and have never read the diary except a few pieces, but I'm fascinated by the revisionism - typically Frank's work has been reviewed by critical deniers looking for chinks in the truth. But here's a look at her trying like a very clever young girl to prepare herself for a blossoming journalistic career, and the revisionist view also answers some questions about why it looks so good, so fluid - so adult! 

    I think about some of the Victorian writers who started so young, Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters in their closely huddled team-writing-&-sharing, and one girl whose name I forget who I think completed a novel between 8 and 13.

    In a way, I think I'd more appreciate the real 13-year-old transition to 15 better, from some of the early version it seems like the suspense, the naïvete would be more impressive, but as her life's only literary work, I'm glad she got the opportunity to do what few writers do enough of - proof-read, revise, re-think, dote.

    Anyway, a new way to look at old familiar territory.

    I remember I was looking for some good books for my kids, and a 'helpful' clerk recommended the Diary. While if there had been say a handful of recommendations, I might have been more receptive, but as a single book to provide a 10-year-old, it seemed like a rather dark, depressing suggestion. Fortunately I found a great "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" collection that solved my predicament for me. Save the tough stuff for when they're older.]


    Really interesting piece PP.  I haven't read the diary since it was assigned to my class in like seventh or eighth grade, and so like you I've only read snippets here and there as an adult.  Perhaps it's time to put it on an ever-expanding list of things to read--and re-read--before that curtain drops.  Thanks.

    I'm only familiar with the play (I built the set and played a Nazi) but it does sound interesting.

    Beautiful - you can fact check her. "Oh no, we wouldn't have done it like that at all.... No way X would have been able to do Y...."

    I read it soon after it first came out in 1952.  I was 16 years old, and all of my friends were reading it.  We weren't reading it as critics but as Anne's peers, and it was stunning to us that a girl that young (and in such a predicament) could write like that.  I cried for days over it, and there's no doubt that it planted the writing seed in whatever part of me needed to grow it.

    I hate literature analysts almost as much as I hate revisionists.  There are some works that are best left to the readers unadulterated and undisturbed.  This is surely one of them.

    "Surely" nothing.

    Different people like different things.

    Some watch baseball on TV with sound off, some like the play-by-play, some only appreciate it in a stadium. 

    Some people like reading Moby Dick as an adventure story, some like wading into all the hidden significance of Ishmael and Queequeg and the path of the boat, etc. etc.

    Your point of view is just one personal preference. You're welcome to it as others are welcome to theirs.

    Some people might like reading the story and then getting more information on the times she lived in, specific current events, what her family situation was, real-life hopes and dreams and sadnesses.

    Knowing she extensively re-edited the book at 15 might change it for some (for better or worse), might mean nothing for others. Your mileage may vary. 

    "Unadulterated and undisturbed"- well her father had 2 versions to work from (original & Anne's edited text) and created a 3rd for his family in Switzerland, a 4th for first publication and a 5th edited to be more restrained for general publication in 1947, which was translated in 1952. It wasn't until 1987 that the original texts made it to the public, and in 1995 a translation based on these was released.

    Some people might be interested in understanding which versions they're reading and how that affects the language and censored bits for a prudish public that couldn't deal with teenage sexuality. (Ironically, the newer more authentic version was banned in Virginia and replaced with the old version for classes to avoid any hint of lesbian activity).

    Some people might like knowing that she'd re-edited it for mass publication, based on an encouraging radio broadcast, and not just as a private journal thought to stay private.

    But good to know literary critics are right down there with holocaust deniers. A comment to cherish.

    What in the HELL are you talking about? 

    Your comment.

    No kidding.  And what should I take from it?  That your opinion of one portion of a sentence in my short comment is so important it requires hundreds of words, ending for good measure in a mention of  holocaust deniers? 

    I thought when you posted your piece about Anne Frank you might actually want comments that were actually opinions.

    So, again--what in the HELL are you talking about?


    So what do you think "revisionist" in terms of Anne Frank means instead of "holocaust deniers"?

    And I write a post describing and linking to a presentation by a literary analyst, and you respond by saying literary analysts suck almost as much as revisionists.

    Great going - did you read your own comment? Basically "let readers figure it out for themselves, quit trying to discuss it as literature". Uh, otay. Sorry.

    What I meant, O Peracles. Please. Is that I hate analysts who decide they have to tell us what the author meant.  They can't know what the author meant.  I listened to most of Francine Prose's talk and the historical aspects were very interesting.  But in "The Diary of Anne Frank", the words are those of an intelligent young girl.  She writes clearly enough so that everything we need to know about her is in there. 

    What I thought I made clear was that this book was important to me as a young teen just as it was.  Given that we know what happened to her and her family, how much more powerful can it be, now that Francine Prose has thrown out the revelation that is wasn't a diary but was, in fact, a memoir?  Prose has written an entire book explaining why she came to that, and, while I found most of her talk outstanding, my very, very own opinion is that Anne Frank's words are all that ever mattered.

    The book is a classic because Anne Frank wrote it in a way that resonated with millions of readers.  We got it.  We don't need, every few years, another lecture on what it was we got and why.



    Occasionally someone discovers something new, sees it in a new light - but will make sure not to irritate you with invitation to the next lecture ;-)

    Don't have to get snippy, PP.  It was just a simple comment.  It's just that I've seen so much explanatory stuff about Anne Frank and what made her tick, I wrote that little jab even before I listened to Prose's talk--which was actually pretty interesting. 

    I really have no complaints about dissecting and analyzing works or looking at them from a historical POV as long as they don't try to get into the authors' minds.  That seems to be inevitable, though, and it makes me cranky.

    So I apologize for jumping the gun and I'm glad you brought that conversation here.


    As king o' crank guess i can't throw crank stones - glad u njoyed

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