A09: My White Paper – Anne Frank, Novelist (Samantha Kovnat)

Anne Frank, Novelist

Within hardship blossoms creation, and brilliance. The story of, and behind the writing of Anne Franks diary, is one often misinterpreted and overshadowed by her martyrdom within the tragedy of the Holocaust. Anne Frank was a 13 year old jewish girl living in hiding in Amsterdam during world war II. Anne, her sister, parents, and four other Jews were kept hidden from the Nazis from around July 6th 1942 to August 4th 1944. During this time Anne kept a diary from June 12, 1942, to August 1st, 1944. Her journaling began with a red and white checkered photo album, turned diary that Anne received on her 13th birthday. What began as innocent diary entries from an upbeat, and precocious young girl, quickly became a thoroughly enticing novel about a young girl maturing through unfortunate circumstance of confinement, and the constant loom of near certain death. Anne Frank, author of the most infamous diary of all time, was actually a gifted writer that carefully crafted her so called “diary” into a literary work of art. Defying the expected simple, immature quality of writing for her age, Anne displays an arguably genius quality within her novel, that came about due to stress induced brilliance.


Although the story of Anne Frank, and her infamous diary is known by most, the full story behind its creation, and of Anne Franks true talent as a writer is often grazed over.


Notes of counterintuitivity within Annes story

There are many little facts about the story of Anne Frank that ring as counterintuitive, but not necessarily heavy enough to write an entire paper on itself. The fact that Anne’s novel is looked at, and taken as fact, when in all actuality it is a heavily edited and slightly doctored document, from a girl determined to have her work published, and her story live forever; so, of course everything had to flow properly, seamlessly, innocently. Her voice is truly a delicately crafted mark of genius. Francine Prose Says “It’s time that Anne Franks’ diary was appreciated as literature, not just a historical record, A book written with craft and skill by a great writer who died at the age of fifteen.”

Topics for more discussion/Possible expansion

One topic for more discussion, is how Anne, despite being in almost total confinement, tormented daily by the fragility of her longevity, and only a few quickly filling journals to confide her inner most thoughts in; has a voice, and story that is as unimaginable to most of its readers, as it is relatable and comforting.

A note of counterintuitivity within her story is how her family chooses to escape confinement and certain death, by choosing confinement and slowly weakening themselves to stay alive.

An idea that has been formulating inside the pink matter within my skull, is the answer to the question of how Anne manages to make millions of people read her diary and feel as though they can relate to her, when few of them have ever experienced anything within the same realm as what she went through? The answer, it seems has been carefully hidden with each entries header; “Dear Kitty”. The reader quickly feels as though with each “Dear Kitty” she is really saying “Dear Marjory” or “Dear Steven”, one begins to feel as though the entire novel was written to them. Immediately feeling a deep connection to this suffering girl.

The Diary of Anne Frank, is actually the (almost) final product of a thoroughly edited document journaling the life of a young girl trying to stay alive during the Holocaust. One must take into account the words “thoroughly edited” in that sentence, since we read her novel and credit it as fact, and yet we have proof that it is doctored.

Sources/Works Cited

Frank, Anne. The Definitive Edition: The Diary of a Young Girl. Ed. Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler. Trans. Susan Massotty. Definitive ed. New York, New York: Bantam Books, 1997. Print. The Definitive Edition: Diary of a Young Girl, is the most recent, and unedited version of Anne Frank’s diary. This book chronicles her time spent hiding from the Nazi’s in the “secret annex” in which she is known for. It begins a few days after her 13th birthday in June of 1942, and ends August 1st 1944. This is the best source any researcher of Anne Frank could get a hold of, it is her thoughts, dreams, and story all neatly bound and in the palm of ones hand. “The Definitive Edition” means that this book is the most  recent of the three or so versions to be published, and contains much of the previously edited material that Anne wanted to share. Readers are no longer skimped of Annes little “side notes” here and there, are allowed to see how she truly fought with her mother, and how she really felt about Peter.
The Definitive Edition: Diary of a Young Girl is an invaluable source due to the fact that it is documented material that is straight from the fountainhead; Anne herself. The concept of having an original document at ones fingertips, such as Annes diary, is an incredible opportunity for any researcher to hold. Having this source is incredibly important so that one can first handedly explore Annes writing style, and examine the flow over time, witness her progressing over the course of two years, from 13 to 15. It is direct evidence to support the claim that Anne went back and edited her diary, since the sophistication in writing style begins, and
ends fairly the same, give or take on content and complexity of thought. The Definitive Edition also directly states places in which more material had been added in, and side notes that Anne had made on particular entries as well, thus supporting the proposed claim of her being more than just a young girl seeking a confidant within the pages of her Diary. This supports the idea that Anne wrote with a purpose, and knew others besides “Kitty” would one day read her story.

Letters of Anne Frank’s Father Uncovered. By Margot Adler. National Public Radio. National Public Radio, 14 Feb. 2007. Web. 28 Mar. 2013.
<http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7400998&gt;. The article and short radio broadcast called Letters of Anne Frank’s Father Uncovered by Margot Adler is a short article accompanied by a short broadcast talking about letters found recently showing Otto Frank’s attempts to get the entire Frank family out of Holland, and safely to the U.S. It discusses how he failed to act upon his options soon enough, leading to the families need to go into hiding in the secret annex. The connections he had with Mr. Nathan Straus, the son of an owner of Macy’s department stores in the United States was not enough to get the four of them out while they still had the chance. It gives readers familiar with Anne’s story insight into why exactly it was that the Frank family did not get out holland early on, and avoid having to go into hiding at all. It seems that all of Otto’s attempts failed due to lack of funds, and the odds leaning against him and his family. Knowing about the existence of these letters gives one a more well rounded view, and understanding of the Frank families suffering during the years of 1941 to 1944, when they first made attempts to migrate, and then sought refuge from the Nazis. Like Anne’s Diary, the first hand account that is displayed in his letters to Mr. Nathan Straus illustrates the struggle of Jews during this time, not knowing when it was too late to find safety, struggling to stay alive, fight capture. A bitter struggle that only documents such as letters, diaries, and first hand accounts can truly encompass to a modern individual.

Prose, Francine. Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife. N.p.: Harper, 2009. Print. The novel Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife by Francine Prose is a new, and crucial source for the article i am writing. She, like I believes strongly in the fact that Anne was a person gifted with literary ability, rather than just a young girl writing about her life, uncensored and without thought. Anne chose each word with purpose, she knew that her diaries were something that was going to become crucial to history one day, and she did not want anyone to assume she was not a “true” writer. Prose’s book is full of information supporting this claim, and is crucial in the correcting many peoples misconception of who Anne was as a writer, and person.

Where am I going

I have a strong interest in this subject, and I find Anne, her story, and the subject of her diary, or legacy really truly fascinating. I am having a rough time sanding down the edges on my thesis, and finding a strong direction, or focus to run with as the main spine throughout my paper. I have now come into the possession of three separate books on Anne, I hope to read as much of, if not all of The Diary of a Young Girl – The Definitive Edition (the most recently published edition, with the most unedited material) so as to familiarize myself with not only Annes voice, but to fully grasp the flow that she achieved, and understand the true genius behind her writing; At least part three of The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth, which was suggested to me in terms of content; And Finally, I will be Skimming through as much of Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife by Francine Prose that I have time for, since her arguments are ones that ring parallel to that of my own, and support the main ideas II wish to put forth in my Essay.

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7 Responses to A09: My White Paper – Anne Frank, Novelist (Samantha Kovnat)

  1. davidbdale says:

    Sammy, I don’t need to tell you how much I love this topic. I’m counting on your special sensibilities to make the most of it.

    When you say “what began as innocent diary entries,” are you making a claim about Anne’s intentions? It would be easy to surmise but hard to prove that she started out innocent of ambition and only grew interested in her legacy over time. I wonder whether you’ll ultimately make that claim.

    Of course, you’ll want to explore the possibility that Anne, who has the time to revise before the end, retains the impression of early innocence at the beginning of the book, knowing that the reader will expect her to mature from the early pages to the later pages.

    Why “infamous”? I don’t think we can call her prolific, unless I’m unaware of a lot of unpublished material. Your claim here is unclear to me. Even for fifteen, she’s absurdly gifted. So does your “defying the expected quality of writing for her age” mean that, or does it mean that she makes her early self seem to be capable of more than a 13-year-old could have done?

    Of course, the primary counterintuitivity is, exactly as you say: the manufactured appearance of innocence. We accept it completely when adult novelists write as if they were adolescents, but there we’re all in on the game. Here, we’re reading what is presented as true innocence and are stunned to even consider we might be the only party playing fair.

    These topics are rich and beautiful and useful mostly as resonators. If Anne lived a counterintuitive life, you’ll put your readers in the right mood to accept her strategies as entirely understandable, if seemingly unfair. How dare we object, frankly, to anything that might have helped her cope? We really have nobody but ourselves to blame if we expect the book to fulfill OUR needs. I’m ashamed of us. 🙂

    Why not try on, as a central theme, the diary-as-a-lifeboat idea? I am a writer, she might have thought, and I am in dire straits: this is perhaps the only chance I will get to be great and live beyond my years. Rather than blame her for an ego, consider being further in awe of her that she knew how to save herself by crafting a perfect lie that would become the truth for generations.

  2. lebano55 says:

    I’m genuinely intrigued by the concept that Anne expertly molded her childhood documentation into something that many see as the definitive account of the Jewish perspective of WWII in a Nazi controlled Netherlands. I would really like to know if there are any accounts or statements from those who were close to her that explicitly support the idea that she edited the diary with the intent for it to be seen as more than just her personal account. In addition, it’d be great if you noted what exactly was altered from the original documents.

  3. kovnat77 says:

    I have read many accounts of people who state that she had initially just wrote in her diary for herself, until she heard a radio broadcast by a member of the dutch government saying “that after the war he hoped to collect eyewitness accounts of the suffering of the Dutch people under the German occupation, which could be made available to the public. He specifically mentioned letters and diaries.” It was this that kind of fueled her to edit her diary, hoping to turn it into a book after the war was over.
    In the book written by the woman who kept Anne and her family hidden away in the Annex, she actually describes walking in on Anne while she was working ferociously at her desk. The Woman, Miep Geis says that the girl at the desk was not the Anne she had always encountered, she saw the shadow of a fierce writer engrossed in work she knew she did not have an endless amount of time to complete.
    In relation to the differences in terms of each updated edition of her Journal, i am currently reading The Definitive Edition of her Diary, because i am just as curious as you.
    I really appreciate your response Steve, it help me to expound on the subject more, and make things more concrete for myself as well.

  4. kovnat77 says:

    I can not remember if i was supposed to comment saying something about having you grade this or not? I am commenting anyway though it seems.

  5. davidbdale says:

    Thanks, Sammy. I appreciate the reminder. I’ve used the occasion of the A11 assignment to provide you additional feedback and advice. You’ll find a section there devoted to the Causal Argument inherent in your thesis. It may not be the argument you choose, but it’s certainly available to you.
    Grade Recorded.

  6. kovnat77 says:

    Dear Professor Hodges,
    What do you mean by Assignment A11? im sorry, i feel like all of a sudden there is a whole lot of assignments, or information that i missed or something. Wait, i see that section, i am confused still though…can i stay after class and pick your brain a bit today? Im sorry, i am just really confused all of a sudden.

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