Monday, March 19, 2012

Anne Frank's Pantheism

The collection of Anne Frank stories and essays, Tales from the Secret Annex, are refreshingly simple and honest stories, with a glimmer of naivete and hope that shines through in the prose.  The stories like “Kathy” and the “Flower Girl” are particular stand-outs.  Very many writers learn a great deal about the simple wonder of creating a story by reading works like these.  There is a simple yet profound artifice here; there is much to learn about simple expression.

Most surprising for me is to read Anne Frank’s pantheistic leanings in many of the stories.  In “The Flower Girl” the main character’s hard life is mitigated by a few moments in the field, collecting flowers in the evening, while “alone with God and nature.”  In “The Fairy” we are told that the perfect cure for sadness is to “…take a walk through the big forest until you reach the moor.  Then, after a while in the heather, sit down and do nothing.  Only look at the blue sky and the trees, and you will gradually feel peaceful inside and realize that nothing is so hopelessly bad that something can’t be done to improve it --- even a little.”  In the story “Jackie” we read: “Anyone who looks at nature, which is the same as looking into oneself, long and deeply enough, will, like Jackie, be cured of all despair.”  In the short unfinished novel “Cady” the main character finds the full expression of her voice in nature, where she “discovered that she was a human being with feelings, thoughts, and opinions of her own, a being separate from others, a person in her own right.”

Here, God, nature, and the inner self are all treated as equals.  The only way to get at the real self, is to search for it in nature.  And since nature is equated with God and one’s inner self, the key to unlocking one is the other.

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