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“A deeply felt reappraisal of the work and its global impact.... [Prose] makes a persuasive argument for Anne Frank’s literary genius.” —New York Times Book Review
In June, 1942, Anne Frank received a diary for her thirteenth birthday, just weeks before she and her family went into hiding from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic. For two years, she described life in hiding in vivid, unforgettable detail and grappled with the unfolding events of World War II. Before the attic was raided in August, 1944, Anne Frank furiously revised and edited her work, crafting a piece of literature that she hoped would be read by the public after the war. And read it has been.
In Anne Frank, bestselling author Francine Prose deftly parses the artistry, ambition, and enduring influence of Anne Frank’s beloved classic, The Diary of a Young Girl. She 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 social mores of the 1950s that reduced it to a tale of adolescent angst and love; the conspiracy theories that have cried fraud, and the scientific analysis that proved them wrong. Finally, having assigned the book to her own students, Prose considers the rewards and challenges of teaching one of the world’s most read, and banned, books. 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?
Approved by both the Anne Frank House Foundation in Amsterdam and the Anne Frank-Fonds in Basel, run by the Frank family, Anne Frank unravels the fascinating story of a memoir that has become one of the most compelling, intimate, and important documents of modern history.
In considering the iconic diary of Anne Frank, prolific novelist and critic Prose (Reading Like a Writer), praises the young writer's fresh narrative voice, characterizations, sense of pacing and ear for dialogue. Prose calls her a literary genius whose diary was a "consciously crafted work of literature" rather than the "spontaneous outpourings of a teenager," and offers evidence that Frank scrupulously revised her work shortly before her arrest and intended to publish it after the war. Fans of literary gossip will savor how writer Meyer Levin, a close friend of Anne's father, Otto Frank, famously gave the Diary a front-page rave in the New York Times and later sued Otto when his script for a play based on it was rejected. Some may conclude that Prose contributes to a queasy-making idolization and commodification of Anne Frank, and that she lets Otto Frank off the hook too easily for minimizing the Jewish essence of the Holocaust, yet the author lucidly collates material from a wide range of sources, and her work would be valuable as a teaching guide for middle school, high school and college students.