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. She described life in hiding 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 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.
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-and it definitively establishes Anne Frank as the writer she always knew she was.