Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife

Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife

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by Francine Prose

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“A definitive, deeply moving inquiry into the life of the young, imperiled artist, and a masterful exegesis of Diary of a Young Girl…Extraordinary testimony to the power of literature and compassion” –Booklist (starred review)

In Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife, Francine Prose, author of


“A definitive, deeply moving inquiry into the life of the young, imperiled artist, and a masterful exegesis of Diary of a Young Girl…Extraordinary testimony to the power of literature and compassion” –Booklist (starred review)

In Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife, Francine Prose, author of Reading Like a Writer, deftly parses the artistry, ambition, and enduring influence of Anne Frank’s beloved classic, The Diary of a Young Girl. Approved by both the Anne Frank House Foundation in Amsterdam and the Anne Frank-Fonds in Basel, run by the Frank family, this work of literary criticism unravels the complex, fascinating story of the diary and effectively makes the case for it being a work of art from a precociously gifted writer.

Editorial Reviews

If Anne Frank were alive today, she would have just turned 80; instead, she died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp when she was only 15. Her now-famous diary, which she had received as a 13th birthday gift, was rescued, returned to her father Otto Frank, and published in Germany and France in 1950. In this revelatory book, National Book Award finalist Francine Prose notes that the diary as we know it is a carefully shaped work of art: From radio broadcasts, Anne knew that Dutch officials in exile were already planning to create a documented history of German oppression once the war was ended. Prose's attentive reading of Frank's journal entries discloses the care their author paid to her work of art. A stirring reappraisal of a teenage writer's undying legacy.
Janet Maslin
Ms. Prose uses her formidable powers of discernment to write incisively about many facets of the Anne Frank phenomenon, from the life itself to the various ways in which it has been willfully distorted. And although Ms. Prose jokes she could hear friends opening magazines as she expounded on Anne Frank over the telephone, she turns her thoughts into a lively and illuminating disquisition…This seemingly narrow work is an impressively far-reaching critical work, an elegant study both edifying and entertaining. In a book full of keen observations and fascinating disputes…Ms. Prose looks in all directions to find noteworthy material.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
In considering the iconic diary of Anne Frank, prolific novelist and critic Prose (Reading Like a Writer), praises the young writer's fresh narrative voice, characterizations, sense of pacing and ear for dialogue. Prose calls her a literary genius whose diary was a “consciously crafted work of literature” rather than the “spontaneous outpourings of a teenager,” and offers evidence that Frank scrupulously revised her work shortly before her arrest and intended to publish it after the war. Fans of literary gossip will savor how writer Meyer Levin, a close friend of Anne's father, Otto Frank, famously gave the Diary a front-page rave in the New York Times and later sued Otto when his script for a play based on it was rejected. Some may conclude that Prose contributes to a queasy-making idolization and commodification of Anne Frank, and that she lets Otto Frank off the hook too easily for minimizing the Jewish essence of the Holocaust, yet the author lucidly collates material from a wide range of sources, and her work would be valuable as a teaching guide for middle school, high school and college students. (Oct.)
Library Journal
If she had survived, Anne Frank would have turned 80 this year. Prose (Goldengrove) analyzes her diary in an innovative way, underscoring Frank's writing genius. In viewing the diary from a more literary perspective, Prose examines Frank's life, her original and revised writings, the annex where she hid, Holocaust deniers, and the challenges of teaching the diary. Her discussions of the play and film adapted from the diary are particularly enlightening; these dramatic versions veered fundamentally from the diary, rendering Frank a silly, love-struck teenager rather than the pensive adolescent one discovers in the diary. Prose touches on many subjects, e.g., how Frank's plight has been "universalized" and "Americanized," taking away from the message she tried to convey in her writings. Despite these issues, Prose recognizes that Frank's story can still make an impact and continues to resonate 64 years after her horrific death. VERDICT This riveting book is highly recommended for all readers interested in the enduring legacy of Anne Frank and for literature scholars. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/09.]—Erica Swenson Danowitz, Delaware Cty. Community Coll., Media, PA
Kirkus Reviews
An articulate statement of the enduring power of Anne Frank's original work joined with a brief biography, an analysis of the 1955 play and 1959 film based on the diary, some attacks on Holocaust deniers and a few thoughts on approaches to teaching the work. Prose (Goldengrove, 2008, etc.) first read The Diary of a Young Girl (1952) when she was a child, and later saw the original production of the play on Broadway. Recently she reread Diary and was even more impressed with its young author's accomplishment. She believes that Frank was an artist, her diary-more accurately a memoir, the author asserts-a work of art. Prose takes us through the text, pointing out its literary merits, generally in convincing fashion, though she is sometimes so insistent and earnest an advocate that she sacrifices just a bit of credibility. The author reviews the history of the Frank family, emphasizing how Anne began as a child diarist and later, in hiding, grew into a more mature, reflective writer, revising and refining with an eye toward postwar publication. Prose properly credits the 1989 Critical Edition of the diary, the volume that first presented Frank's versions of the diary in parallel columns-as well as the overwhelming scientific evidence of the diary's authenticity. The author wrestles with Frank's reputation today, at first uncomfortable with her becoming a symbol of naive hopefulness, then forgiving of anything that draws readers to the book. Prose rehearses the internecine, nasty struggle to bring Diary to the stage, and chronicles Meyer Levin's descent into near madness as he sought, unsuccessfully, to be the diary's playwright. The author attacks both the stage and screen versions for theirportrayals of Frank, at times, as a dimwit. She also has little good to say about the actresses who portrayed Frank. Prose also blasts the infrahuman Holocaust deniers and ends with some fairly perfunctory, even ordinary thoughts about teaching the book. A graceful tribute and a touching act of gratitude.
Anne Roiphe
“A fascinating book...riveting to read...”
"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."
San Francisco Chronicle
“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 Diego Union-Tribune
“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.”
Jerusalem Post
“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.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“A valuable resource…useful and well-written and –researched”
Los Angeles Times
“Provocative.... A penetrating analysis.”
Chicago Tribune
“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.”
Haaretz (Israel)
“Passionate…A sensitive, beautifully written and fascinating account of the myriad aspects of Anne Frank’s life, death and diary”
Washington Post
“Illuminating…A compelling story…Francine Prose explains some of the many sides of this remarkable story.”
Booklist (starred review)
“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.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“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.”
Christian Science Monitor
“Compelling…With compassion and grace, Prose looks at Anne Frank as Anne wished to be seen: above all, as a writer.”
New York Times
“An impressively far-reaching critical work, an elegant study both edifying and entertaining...full of keen observations and fascinating disputes.”
Miami Herald
“This is an amazing book…thorough, thoughtfully, beautifully written…[It] focuses on Anne Frank as an accomplished writer…I was thrilled to find it.”
Boston Sunday Globe
“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.”
New York Times Book Review
“A deeply felt reappraisal of the work and its global impact.... [Prose] makes a persuasive argument for Anne Frank’s literary genius.”
Jewish Book World
“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.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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What People are saying about this

Anne Roiphe
“A fascinating book...riveting to read...”

Meet the Author

Francine Prose is the author of twenty works of fiction. Her novel A Changed Man won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and Blue Angel was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent works of nonfiction include the highly acclaimed Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright, a Director's Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, Prose is a former president of PEN American Center, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her most recent book is Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932. She lives in New York City.

Brief Biography

New York, New York
Date of Birth:
April 1, 1947
Place of Birth:
Brooklyn, New York
B.A., Radcliffe College, 1968

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Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
BillPilgrim More than 1 year ago
This is a complete exploration of Anne Frank's diary. It includes about 60 pages of her life story. Then it examines and critiques the book as literature. It also explains the process by which Anne wrote the diary, including revisions and editing that she undertook after hearing on the radio that the Dutch government in exile was asking people to save and submit to an official repository their writings about the war period. The description of the controversy around the adaptation of the diary into a play was detailed. This was totally unknown to me before reading this book. There is a complete comparison of the merits of the play and the subsequent film version to the diary, in which both the adaptations come up lacking. There are also brief descriptions of the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam, the holocaust deniers focus on the diary as a hoax, and the use of the diary in the public schools. I enjoyed reading the book and would recommend it. I've never read the book, although I picked up a used copy several years ago and will probably now read it soon. I generally find holocaust literature to be interesting and I would put the diary and this book in that category.
GentleReaderAB More than 1 year ago
Since i first read her Diary when i was a teen, i was compelled to learn all i could about Anne Frank. Now i'm a Grandmother, and her story still resonates. This book is a detailed examination of how Anne's Diary became the world renouned best seller and its continued impact on new generations. If you want to delve deep into the history of the Diary, this is the book for you. No illustrations and a bit dry and scholarly, it's for select readers more than for the general population who simply want to read about Anne during her years in hiding from the Nazi's.
readingon More than 1 year ago
As other reviewers mentioned, I thought I knew all there is to know about Anne Frank since I read her diary as a teen, saw the play and the movie and even visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. But in this book I learned much more. I then read the "Definitive edition" of the diary and was again overwhelmed by the story presented by this brilliant young writer. I now plan to tell all the serious readers I know to re-visit "The Secret Annex" through this book.
Judithann More than 1 year ago
I thought I knew a great deal about this topic, but I thought wrong. Vivid new details emerge about what happened before the diary began, during the time Anne kept her diary, and what happened, from a legal, moral, theatrical and cinematic point of view after Anne died and her diary became an international sensation. Insightful, informative, provocative and touching.
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This young girl did many great things and this is how you repay her?By saying"i killed anne frank"?How dare you make fun of her?You should be ashamed of yourself!She died in a concentration camp for being jewish.she did nothing bad to them or YOU.SO THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK JERK?GOD BLESS YOU ANNE FRANK.MAY YOUR SOUL BE IN PEACE!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is so sad how Anne Frank died. She definetly taught us all something: that we should stand for what we belive in. Also sh taught us that life is short but should be well lived. ANNE FRANK: May your story live long though you didn't. GOD BLESS YOU!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anne frank is a stranger but shes also like my best friend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think her sister margot kept a diary maybe itss stilo in the frank house or it could have beeen burned when they birned doownn the camp i sure hope its still in the frank house because it would be cool to read about her. I havent read this yet but i cant wait to