Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Anne Frank, More Comprehensively

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Anne Frank, More Comprehensively

Article excerpt

ANNE FRANK was not a survivor, to borrow a term overused in present-day parlance. She was born in Germany in 1929, fled with her family to the Netherlands at the age of four, and was flushed out of the secret annex where they had hidden for two years to die in a concentration camp in 1945, a few months short of her 16th birthday. Yet, as even the most cursory reading of her diary amply demonstrates, she had all of the qualities that are supposed to characterize survivorship: intelligence, courage, honesty, compassion, resilience, resourcefulness, and a good sense of humor.

Anne Frank hoped to become a writer. In the spring of 1944, after hearing a radio broadcast of the Dutch government-in-exile about the importance of letters and diaries as documents, she began revising and expanding her own diary to provide a broader picture of the times. Anne's father, Otto Frank, the only member of the immediate family to survive the camps, recovered the diary after the war and from her two versions prepared a third.

Some passages from the manuscripts were omitted: comments Otto Frank deemed disrespectful to his late wife, critical remarks about others whose feelings might be hurt, and some of Anne's direct references to sexual matters, such as menstruation and birth control.

First published in 1947, "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl" became an international bestseller, a prizewinning play, and a film. In 1986, the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation prepared a new "critical" edition of the diary. Over 700 pages long, it presents the three parallel texts (Anne's first version, her revised version, and her father's combined version) printed on the same page for comparison and is complete with background material about the Frank family and the editing and publishing history of the diary.

The present Definitive Edition, featuring a new English translation somewhat more direct and earthy than the previous one, includes much of the material that was left out of the 1947 edition. …

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