BY FRANCINE PROSE
In ANNE FRANK: THE BOOK, THE LIFE, THE AFTERLIFE author Francine Prose examines the work of Anne Frank and concludes her diary is not just the fictional writings of a young girl, but also a great piece of literature. She finds that Anne was an amazing writer and not just a girl making daily notations of the world around her.
Prose goes into the book itself and reviews the background of Anne's story. She tells how Anne was a remarkable young writer but that wasn't known...not during her time here on earth. Anne was the daughter of Otto Frank, a Dutch Jew. During World War II, he had taken the attic of his small factory and made it into a hiding place to keep his family safe and keep them from being sent away when the Nazis were rounding up the Jews and sending them to concentration camps. For two years the "attic people" slept during the day and did what needed to be done during the night. Only Otto's workers that he trusted knew they were there and helped to bring supplies and kept the secret to themselves. However, as we know, they were eventually found out and it tore Otto's family apart.
Prose tell us in the book how she thinks that Anne was very protective of her work, of her diary, learning to write as a very young child and obviously having a gift as exemplified in the book. Prose's research is complete and detailed. She writes of the real writer Anne was and how she made revisions in her diary and thus from that one can tell it wasn't merely a bunch of thoughts jotted down daily. Of course, when things went bad and they were discovered in their tiny attic, Anne was taken away and her diary left behind. She had told Otto how she wanted her diary to be published if she didn't come back. Prose goes into detail about how when Anne's father returned after the war and saw Anne's diary. He took her diary and revised it using her notes so that he wound up with the book we know today. Prose is able to give the storyline of how hard it was to get the book published and how from there it took on a life of its own.Anne Frank lived on through her words while tragically she died just a few weeks before her Bergen-Belsen camp was freed.
As you read this book, you will see that Prose compared all versions of Anne's book and came to realize what she long suspected. This wasn't just a young girl's diary but rather a writer who labored and revised this work as she knew deep down it would be published one day. She writes of how Anne is so observant and writes with keen detail that it is no wonder her diary makes whatever happens come alive.
In the last section, Prose goes into the way the story went from book to stage to film. How the various presentations were mostly bad and not representative of what Anne really was saying or who she really was. She spends some time tactfully addressing those who say there wasn't a Holocaust and condemning the diary. Finally, Prose makes the reader understand that no play, or movie, or diary even, can change who Anne was and what the real meaning of what she wrote was all about. The brilliance shines through no matter how much the attic tries to keep in the light.
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