Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Anne Frank Uncensored

I had no idea. The version of Anne Frank's diary that I had read many years ago was but 60% of her original diary. The remaining 30% had been excised by her father Otto Frank before its original publication in the 1950's. I had read a reprint of that edition from the 1980's.
A few days ago, my children and I sat down to watch a darker Anne Frank than I remembered from the book, no longer quite as saccharine, and definitely much more in conflict with her mother than I had ever thought.
M tentatively suggested at the end, "Can I read this when I'm older?" to which I readily agreed. Maybe, when she is around 13.
S was silent on whether he would like to read the book. But then he's read more of the horrors of the Holocaust from Elie Wiesel's "Night". The diary of Anne Frank pales in comparison as far as chronicling those, her view is limited to the claustrophobic confines of the Secret Annexe where she lived with her family during the two long years before discovery and the final terrible months in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
It was only today that I realized that an 'uncensored' version of the diary had been published in 1997. This contains Anne's unflattering adolescent assessments of her mother and investigations of her own sexuality that Otto Frank had chosen to keep out of the earlier edition. He died in 1980, and the successors to his estate are evidently less circumspect about full disclosure.
I don't know how those who might have seen the earlier edition of the book as too saintly and cloying have reacted to the newer edition. Does it take some of the shine off their vision of Anne? Perhaps it does.
To me, it tells us that human frailties transcend the urge to idealize, and ultimately burnish rather than tarnish the humanity of Anne Frank's story and diary.

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