Anne Frank Unbound: Media, Imagination, Memory

Anne Frank Unbound: Media, Imagination, Memory

Anne Frank Unbound: Media, Imagination, Memory

Anne Frank Unbound: Media, Imagination, Memory

Synopsis

As millions of people around the world who have read her diary attest, Anne Frank, the most familiar victim of the Holocaust, has a remarkable place in contemporary memory. Anne Frank Unbound looks beyond this young girl's words at the numerous ways people have engaged her life and writing. Apart from officially sanctioned works and organizations, there exists a prodigious amount of cultural production, which encompasses literature, art, music, film, television, blogs, pedagogy, scholarship, religious ritual, and comedy. Created by both artists and amateurs, these responses to Anne Frank range from veneration to irreverence. Although at times they challenge conventional perceptions of her significance, these works testify to the power of Anne Frank, the writer, and Anne Frank, the cultural phenomenon, as people worldwide forge their own connections with the diary and its author.

Excerpt

The list is daunting. Dozens of musical compositions, ranging from oratorio to indie rock. A dramatization given hundreds of productions annually. Thousands of YouTube videos. A museum visited by millions. To these, add a growing number of works of fine art, biography, fiction, poetry, and dance, as well as films, radio and television broadcasts, and websites. Plus tributes in the form of commemorative coins, stamps, and other collectibles, memorial sites and organizations around the world, eponymous streets, schools, and institutions, to say nothing of a “day, a week, a rose, a tulip, countless trees, a whole forest, … and a village.” All inspired by a book that has been translated into scores of languages, published in hundreds of editions, printed in tens of millions of copies, and ranked as one of the most widely read books on the planet.

These wide-ranging engagements with Anne Frank’s life and work are a phenomenon of interest in its own right and exceptional in several ways. To begin with, few public figures have inspired connections that are as extensive and as diverse, ranging from veneration to sacrilege. The expression of these connections can be playfully creative or can conform to well-established convention, and they are often deeply personal at the same time that they validate their subject’s iconic stature. Among the handful of people who have inspired this extraordinary kind of engagement—Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Albert Einstein, Elvis Presley —Anne Frank never participated, even indirectly, in her renown. The widespread interest in her rests largely on a single effort—her wartime diary—which no one else had read and few even knew existed during her brief life.

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