After being baptized by certain misguided Mormons for, I believe, the ninth time, I decided to re-read Anne Frank’s diary. I read it last in my late teens.
When I read it as a teen, I had no problem believing a teenager could write material that contains such perspicuity. As an adult, I find it difficult to believe. And hence, we see the gulf between children’s self-understanding, and the adult’s perception of that understanding. In the 25 plus years since I have read the diary, I have assumed the rigid attitude and stultifying thought patterns of an adult. One of these side products is to believe that a girl at fourteen can’t write anything substantial about herself and her world. What a sad commentary on the maturation of the human mind.
On a technical level, I find it fascinating to learn that the diaries were a very conscious effort on Anne Frank’s part to create a published book. The conception that the diary was found, complete from beginning to end, is wrong. She wrote the diaries almost as an epistolary memoir. She went back and revised passages. The work we have in our hands when we read it is a composite of sorts. An original diary, its revision, and a combination of the two, edited by her father, Otto Frank. This is all expressed in fascinating detail in Francine Prose’s Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife. I highly recommend this book as a companion piece to any re-reading of Anne Frank’s work.