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An Obsession with Anne Frank: Meyer Levin and the Diary

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Anne Frank's Diary has been acclaimed throughout the world as an indelible portrait of a gifted girl and as a remarkable document of the Holocaust. For Meyer Levin, the respected writer who helped bring the Diary to an American audience, the Jewish girl's moving story became a thirty-year obsession that altered his life and brought him heartbreaking sorrow.

Lawrence Graver's fascinating account of Meyer Levin's ordeal is a story within a story. What began as a warm collaboration...

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Overview

Anne Frank's Diary has been acclaimed throughout the world as an indelible portrait of a gifted girl and as a remarkable document of the Holocaust. For Meyer Levin, the respected writer who helped bring the Diary to an American audience, the Jewish girl's moving story became a thirty-year obsession that altered his life and brought him heartbreaking sorrow.

Lawrence Graver's fascinating account of Meyer Levin's ordeal is a story within a story. What began as a warm collaboration between Levin and Anne's father, Otto Frank, turned into a notorious dispute that lasted several decades and included litigation and public scandal. Behind this story is another: one man's struggle with himself—as a Jew and as a writer—in postwar America. Looming over both stories is the shadow of the Holocaust and its persistent, complex presence in our lives.

Graver's book is based on hundreds of unpublished documents and on interviews with some of the Levin-Frank controversy's major participants. It illuminates important areas of American culture: publishing, law, religion, politics, and the popular media. The "Red Scare," anti-McCarthyism, and the commercial imperatives of Broadway are all players in this book, along with the assimilationist mood among many Jews and the simplistic pieties of American society in the 1950s.

Graver also examines the different and often conflicting ways that people the world over, Jewish and Gentile, wanted Anne Frank and her much-loved book to be represented. That her afterlife has in extraordinary ways taken on the shape and implications of myth makes Graver's story—and Meyer Levin's—even more compelling.

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Editorial Reviews

Jewish Book World
Investigates the unhappy story of Meyer Levin's obsession with Ann Frank and her Diary. Concentrating on Levin's desire to write the play based on the book, his eventual falling out with Otto Frank, and the sundry legal and literary aftermath of the incident, Graver does more than tell the story of a play: he addresses and assesses the impact of the Holocaust as a Jewish phenomenon in the United States and among American Jewry.
Booknews
Meyer Levin, born 1905, was partly responsible for bringing Anne Frank's Diary to American audiences. But a notorious dispute lasting several decades erupted between Levin and Anne Frank's father when their ideas about how to represent Anne Frank and her diary conflicted. Graver (English, Williams College) chronicles the disagreement in the context of Levin's personal struggle, his position as a Jew and a writer in post-war America, and the various ways people around the world have wanted Anne Frank and her treasured diary represented. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520212206
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 9/18/1997
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 238
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Lawrence Graver is Professor of English at Williams College. He is the author of Conrad's Short Fiction (1969), Carson McCullers (1969), Beckett: The Critical Heritage (1979), and Samuel Beckett: Waiting for Godot (1989).

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