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Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The…

Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Francine Prose

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2981155,834 (4.02)19
Title:Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife
Authors:Francine Prose
Info:Harper Perennial (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 336 pages

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Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife by Francine Prose (2009)


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» See also 19 mentions

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Has a lot of useful detail on how the Diary came to be written and published, and also some unedifying details about the creation of the Broadway play, the movie, and its use by revisionists, but I recommend it as a book anyway. ( )
  nwhyte | May 16, 2015 |

This book is an analysis of Anne Frank's diary as a work of literature, particularly comparing the three different versions - a (the original version she wrote day by day), b (the revised version she rewrote in mid 1944 after Dutch Minister Bolkestein's radio call for Dutch citizens to preserve their wartime reminiscences for posterity, which reflects her maturing views as a 15 year old rather than a 13 year old) and c (the synthesis of a and b and which was the original published version in 1947). It also analyses the 1950s Broadway and Hollywood versions of the diary - the bitter arguments over their purpose and the best approach to their presentation, especially over the former, make for unedifying reading. Though not nearly so unpleasant as the (mercifully) quite short chapter about the attempts of Holocaust deniers to try to show the diary was a hoax. The book concludes with some reflections by the author on the challenges and opportunities teaching Anne Frank to students. I wasn't always convinced by the author's literary conclusions, but this was mostly quite interesting in covering differing aspects of this remarkable diary and its author. ( )
  john257hopper | Oct 17, 2013 |
I found all the references to the multiple versions of the diary fascinating - I had heard about some editing by her father but not the fact that Anne had begun to re-write/edit herself ( )
  lindap69 | Apr 5, 2013 |
The author's intent here is to explore Anne Frank's book as a work of literature. In contrast to what is possibly a general view that part of its appeal is that Anne Frank was a little girl writing a diary for no one but herself, there is documented evidence that Anne Frank indeed intended to seek publication of her diary, and in anticipation of that, started editing her previous entries. Even as a young person, she saw herself as a writer and comparing her original entries against those she revised do show a very skillful, committed, and reflective approach to her own work.

There are several sections focusing on different aspects of the book as a literary work, including its creation, its publication, the play, the movie, and how it is taught in schools. The information was very, very interesting Francine Prose does a great job of putting it all together.

My one (small) quibble with this is the author's conviction that her approach, the "work of literature" approach is the right approach. Now, she doesn't come out and say this, because I'm not sure she's aware of it, because OF COURSE you have to say (and she does) that it's also valid to use the diary as a tool for teaching social justice and humanitarian issues -- but her heart just doesn't seem in it. It was actually funny to me how she would use examples of students' responses to the diary in a social justice setting to show how earnestly trite they are, and then show similar examples of students responding in a literary instruction setting and they were just as earnest and just as trite. She however seemed to see those as examples of earnestly insightful. I think the take-away is not so much that a literary approach makes for better understanding, I think it's that teens (and others) are earnest and sincere and often come across as goofy no matter what lens you are using to present the diary. And that's okay.

Grade: A-
Recommended: To anyone who has vivid memories of their first reading of The Diary and even the vaguest interest in thinking about it as literature as opposed to a strict historical document. ( )
  delphica | May 4, 2012 |
This book looks at Anne Frank's life, the various versions of her diary, how it became a play and a movie and how it is taught in schools. The most interesting section was the one showing that Anne was a skilled writer who consciously crafted her diary - rewriting and editing it subsequent to its initial writing. Prose is critical of the way the movie and play portrayed Anne as a giddy teenager rather than the sensitive, mature girl her diaries show her to be.
ALthough interesting this book was overlong and would have benefitted from some editing. ( )
  RefPenny | Nov 29, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Prose’s summaries and explanations of dialogue and plot can, inevitably, sometimes read like CliffsNotes, but she makes a persuasive argument for Anne Frank’s literary genius.
This is a Grade A example of what a smart, precise and impassioned teacher can do.
In the absence of new material, those who write about her must either endlessly rehearse what's already known, reconstitute her for a modern audience or analyse those "new" Anne Franks. Francine Prose tries to do all three and fails much of the time. For, if Anne Frank has in some sense become a sign, then the task of analysing her book's afterlife requires the skills of a semiotician rather than a novelist.
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I would call the subject of Anne Frank's Diary even more mysterious and fundamental than St. Augustine's, and describe it as: the conversion of a child into a person...
Only a natural writer could sound as if she is not writing so much as thinking on the page.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 006143079X, Hardcover)

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 from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic. For two years, with ever-increasing maturity, Anne crafted a memoir that has become one of the most compelling, intimate, and important documents of modern history - grappling with the unfolding events of World War II, until the hidden attic was raided in August, 1944. But the diary of Anne Frank, argues Francine Prose, is as much a work of art as an historical record. Through close reading, she marvels at the teenaged 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 hoped would be read by the public after the war. Read it has been. Few books have been as influential for so 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 1950's social mores that reduced it to a tale of adolescent angst and love; the claims of conspiracy theorists who 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:34 -0400)

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Francine Prose argues that the diary of Anne Frank is as much a deliberate work of art as it is an historical record, noting its literary merits and thoroughly investigating the diary's unique afterlife as one of the world's most read, and banned, books.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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