In June 1942, Anne Frank received a red-and-white- checked diary for her thirteenth birthday, just weeks before she and her family went into hiding in an Amsterdam attic to escape the Nazis. For two years, with ever-increasing maturity, Anne crafted a memoir that has become one of the most compelling documents of modern history. She described life in vivid, unforgettable detail, explored apparently irreconcilable views of human nature--people are good at heart but capable of unimaginable evil--and grappled with the unfolding events of World War II, until the hidden attic was raided in August 1944.
But Anne Frank's diary, argues Francine Prose, is as much a work of art as a historical record. Through close reading, she marvels at the teenage Frank's skillfully natural narrative voice, at her finely tuned dialogue and ability to turn living people into characters. And Prose addresses what few of the diary's millions of readers may know: this book is a "deliberate" work of art. During her last months in hiding, Anne Frank furiously revised and edited her work, crafting a piece of literature that she had hoped would be read by the public after the war.
Read it has been. Few books have been as influential for as long, and Prose thoroughly investigates the diary's unique afterlife: the obstacles and criticism Otto Frank faced in publishing his daughter's words; the controversy surrounding the diary's Broadway and film adaptations; and the claims of conspiracy theorists who have cried fraud, along with the scientific analysis that proved them wrong. Finally, Prose, a teacher herself, considers the rewards and challenges of sharing one of the world's most read, and most banned, books with students.
How has the life and death of one girl become emblematic of the lives and deaths of so many, and why do her words continue to inspire? "Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife" tells the extraordinary story of the book that became a force in the world. Along the way, Francine Prose definitively establishes that Anne Frank was not an accidental author or a casual teenaged chronicler, but a writer of prodigious talent and ambition.
How has the life and death of one girl become emblematic of the lives and deaths of so many, and why do her words continue to inspire? "Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife" tells the extraordinary story of the book that became a force in the world. Along the way, Francine Prose definitively establishes that Anne Frank was not an accidental author or a casual teenage chronicler, but a writer of prodigious talent and ambition.
No preview available - 2009 - 444 pages
An articulate statement of the enduring power of Anne Frank's original work joined with a brief biography, an analysis of the 1955 play and 1959 film based on the diary, some attacks on Holocaust deniers and a few thoughts on approaches to teaching the work.Prose (Goldengrove, 2008, etc.) first read The Diary of a Young Girl (1952) when she was a child, and later saw the original production of the ... play on Broadway. Recently she reread Diary and was even more impressed with its young author's accomplishment. She believes that Frank was an artist, her diary—more accurately a memoir, the author asserts—a work of art. Prose takes us through the text, pointing out its literary merits, generally in convincing fashion, though she is sometimes so insistent and earnest an advocate that she sacrifices just a bit of credibility. The author reviews the history of the Frank family, emphasizing how Anne began as a child diarist and later, in hiding, grew into a more mature, reflective writer, revising and refining with an eye toward postwar publication. Prose properly credits the 1989 Critical Edition of the diary, the volume that first presented Frank's versions of the diary in parallel columns—as well as the overwhelming scientific evidence of the diary's authenticity. The author wrestles with Frank's reputation today, at first uncomfortable with her becoming a symbol of na™ve hopefulness, then forgiving of anything that draws readers to the book. Prose rehearses the internecine, nasty struggle to bring Diary to the stage, and chronicles Meyer Levin's descent into near madness as he sought, unsuccessfully, to be the diary's playwright. The author attacks both the stage and screen versions for their portrayals of Frank, at times, as a dimwit. She also has little good to say about the actresses who portrayed Frank. Prose also blasts the infrahuman Holocaust deniers and ends with some fairly perfunctory, even ordinary thoughts about teaching the book.A graceful tribute and a touching act of gratitude.
More book information
|Title||Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife|
|Subjects||Biography & Autobiography / Historical|
Biography & Autobiography / Literary
History / Holocaust
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)/ Netherlands/ Amsterdam/ Personal narratives/ History and criticism
Language Arts & Disciplines / Composition & Creative Writing
Literary Criticism / Books & Reading
Literary Criticism / General