The Book, The Life, The Afterlife
By Francine Prose
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061430794, 336pp.)
Publication Date: October 2009
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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 in an Amsterdam attic to escape the Nazis. For two years, with ever-increasing maturity, Anne crafted a memoir that has become one of the most compelling documents of modern history. She described life 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 Anne Frank's diary, argues Francine Prose, is as much a work of art as a historical record. Through close reading, she marvels at the teenage 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 had hoped would be read by the public after the war.
Read it has been. Few books have been as influential for as 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 claims of conspiracy theorists who have cried fraud, along with the scientific analysis that proved them wrong. Finally, Prose, a teacher herself, considers the rewards and challenges of sharing one of the world's most read, and most banned, books with students.
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. Along the way, Francine Prose definitively establishes that Anne Frank was not an accidental author or a casual teenaged chronicler, but a writer of prodigious talent and ambition.
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. Along the way, Francine Prose definitively establishes that Anne Frank was not an accidental author or a casual teenage chronicler, but a writer of prodigious talent and ambition.
Anne Frank's diary is read and quoted around the world, by youngsters, statesmen and scholars alike. But novelist Francine Prose says it's time the diary was appreciated as literature — not just a historical document. More at NPR.org
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“Francine Prose...takes Anne’s story and adds to it a new perspective....Prose tells this story with tremendous beauty, pathos and a profound awareness of tragic coincidence.”
-San Francisco Chronicle
“This is an amazing book…thorough, thoughtfully, beautifully written…[It] focuses on Anne Frank as an accomplished writer…I was thrilled to find it.”
“Provocative…penetrating…With ANNE FRANK, then, Prose means to remove Frank from the wistful amber of her posthumous celebrity and reveal her to us in a more realistic light.”
-Los Angeles Times
“Prose admirably recreates the events in the attic over the years—no small feat—[with] all the drama of a classic whodunit…Transcendent criticism…[A] case so brilliantly proven.”
“Compelling…With compassion and grace, Prose looks at Anne Frank as Anne wished to be seen: above all, as a writer.”
-Christian Science Monitor
“Prose’s book is a stunning achievement…Now Anne Frank stands before us…a figure who will live not only in history but also in the literature she aspired to create.”
-Minneapolis Star Tribune
“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
“Passionate…A sensitive, beautifully written and fascinating account of the myriad aspects of Anne Frank’s life, death and diary”
“Provocative.... A penetrating analysis.”
-Los Angeles Times
“Substantially researched and wide-ranging…This probing and informed book introduces readers to a far more complex and accomplished young woman than the Anne we met in our adolescence.”
-Jewish Book World
“Illuminating…A compelling story…Francine Prose explains some of the many sides of this remarkable story.”
“Talented author Francine Prose approaches Anne Frank with the awe and respect of one writer for another…Prose’s research uncovers what many will be surprised to discover.”
“Impassioned…compelling…No one has made the case as convincingly and forcefully as Francine Prose does that Anne Frank aspired to be taken seriously as a writer—and should be.”
-San Diego Union-Tribune
“A fascinating book...riveting to read...”
-Anne Roiphe, Moment Magazine
“A valuable resource…useful and well-written and –researched”
“Prose is commanding and illuminating...definitive, deeply moving inquiry into the life of the young, imperiled artist.... Extraordinary testimony to the power of literature and compassion.”
-Booklist (starred review)
“Prose is clear-headed, tough, and fair, and her book, though in places immensely sad, is superb. It should be cherished alongside the masterpiece that inspired it.”
-Boston Sunday Globe
“An impressively far-reaching critical work, an elegant study both edifying and entertaining...full of keen observations and fascinating disputes.”
-New York Times