Alden's Reviews > Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife

Anne Frank by Francine Prose
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Sep 20, 2011

it was amazing
Read from September 13 to 19, 2011

I read The Diary of a Young Girl as a child -- I think I was six or seven years old the first time. Then a year or two ago I picked up The Definitive Edition. I was aware that Otto Frank had done some editing of the diary, and wanted to see what had been reinstated... but when I finished, I wasn't sure. I felt like there might have been a bit more complaining about Anne's mother, but it had been so long since I'd read the first edition I wasn't positive. In the end, I decided it didn't really matter, because the book was more or less the same.

THIS book, by Francine Prose, illuminated two things for me. Firstly, I was wrong to dismiss the versions' differences as unimportant. And secondly, I'd been missing a whole huge level of interpretation of this book. I had absolutely no idea that Anne had revised her OWN text as much as she did, and that it is really to be considered a piece of deliberate writing in a way diaries aren't. (And goodness, do I wish I HAD known that, because I tried diary-keeping myself at that same age and quit after fits of realizing that what I was writing wasn't any good. It would have been such a relief to realize I was comparing myself to a carefully-edited work of art, not the spontaneous thoughts of an adolescent!)

I think I'd eventually like to get my hands on The Revised Critical Edition, which compares each version of Anne's diary -- incorporating both Otto's editing and her own -- side-by-side. It's fairly pricey and I'll wait a while. In the meantime, I feel like Francine Prose has done an *excellent* job of showing me what I might learn from that comparison, and emphasizing that The Diary is a work of literature and not just a voyeuristic peek at one aspect of WWII. I will say that I found the last chapter of the book kind of saccharine and unnecessary, but I suppose the author needed it for her own catharsis. But every page prior to that chapter was both educational and a pleasure to read. I'm so glad I picked this up.
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