on 24 July 2003
I first read the original translation 20 years ago and was very moved, though reading it now I can see that the language has been tidied up and often sounds far too adult for a teenager.
This 'Definitive Edition' is excellent in some ways because it contains a lot of material which wasn't included before but the new translation reads too much like an American high school student (eg lots of references to 'candy' 'fifth grade' 'report card' 'smart' 'goof'). It gives the impression of a poor, victimised American girl, whereas Anne Frank was European, in fact German (not Dutch!). I believe Anne Frank learnt British English, (her father was a great Dickens fan) so a lot of these terms would be completely alien to her. And historically speaking a translation into British English would be more fitting, because it is, like Anne, European.
Let North America have this translation, but will we ever get a translation for the non-American market instead of having an American take on everything foisted on us?
on 11 January 2009
Since a young age I had known about Anne Frank, from her diary, hiding in the "Secret Annexe" in Amsterdam during the Second World War, and ultimately her tragic death at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. But until recently I had not read the diary. I had been read extracts from it but never picked it up and read it from beginning to end. If I try to think of reason behind why it took me so long, I fail to think of one.
I started reading on Tuesday and quickly found myself in a state of being half surprised. Growing up, though knowing it was non-fiction, and had actually happened, I only ever really read fictional books so a part of me imagined reading the Diary would just feel like reading a rather realistic fiction. What took me (oddly) by surprise is how aware I was of the fact that it is a Diary. It wasn't at all like the `realistic fiction' I imagined when I was younger. This I discovered quickly, and thus made me hang on every word.
Another thing I noticed early on was Anne's sense of humour, which I didn't expect. There were entries that not only made me smile, but if I was with someone, they'd notice I was somewhat amused, and I would then read them what I found funny.
"I was being discussed and they decided that I'm not completely stupid after all." - 21st September, 1942.
I'm aware of how odd, if not disrespectful, it may sound, laughing at the Diary, considering the situation they were in. But don't get me wrong, it wasn't laugh out loud funny. Anne wasn't telling a joke, she had a very subtle sense of humour that really wasn't obvious. You could see it was present though, in the way certain comments were worded.
"Mr. Van Daan used to be in the meat, sausage, and spice business. It was because of his knowledge of this trade that he was taken on in Daddy's business. Now he is showing the sausagy side of himself, which, for us, is by no means disagreeable." - 10th December, 1942.
It was around half-way through the Diary when I found myself thinking about it more when I was busy doing other things. I wouldn't say I felt guilty as such. Thankful, is what I felt.
One night, I looked around my room, at all my belongings, and just felt so thankful that I have all the things that I do. The guilty-side would make more of an appearance at dinner-time, or when I would climb into my large snugly bed. I've felt this a little less now that I've finished reading. But the thankfulness remains here to stay.
In the beginning I admired how observant she was, and her ideology, her views on the world, her theories. As the diary progressed you could see her becoming a young woman, and it's not only you, who is learning more about her, but she is learning about herself, and is honest about it.
She becomes aware of her strengths, and her flaws. And as this went on I just became more fascinated by every entry. I also pondered how what she wrote still applies today, there are obviously differences but in the grand scheme of things not a lot has changed. The feelings felt, thoughts and curiosities are exactly the same as any teenager nowadays.
There was something I noticed on the evening that I finished reading the Diary, and not long after I thought of a possible theory behind it. That entire day I could've easily picked the book up and finished it. I wasn't busy that day, I was thinking about the Diary, and I know I wanted to finish it. But 6 o' clock in the evening came along and still I had not touched it. My theory came to me later that night when I began to read again.
I was reading it knowing what was coming, knowing full well what would be the outcome to all of it, and she continued to write, with no idea. (This became sadder towards the end with the invasion of the Allies beginning). And after a while I thought, on some level, if I didn't finish reading it, they can't get caught. And it couldn't have ended like it did.
"Dear Kitty, Now I'm getting really hopeful, now things are going well at last. Yes, really, they're going well! Super news!" - 21st July 1944. Anne's penultimate entry, just 15 days before capture.
When I had finished reading the Diary, I honestly felt like I had sort of lost a friend. I had learnt so much, and felt like Anne was confiding in me. Even though I knew how it ended in advance, I felt I had to prepare myself for the end and felt, well if I'm honest, a little lost when I was finished. I still feel like this a little, the day after.
Maybe it's just because I could feel with my fingers that there weren't many pages left, but the last few pages read almost as if they were finalizing things. Despite Anne having hope that it would all be over soon. I have never shed a tear over a book before but last night there was a statement that ended this.
"Daddy and Mummy have always thoroughly spoilt me, were sweet to me, defended me and have done all that parents could do. And yet I've felt so frightfully lonely for a long time, so left out, neglected and misunderstood."
No other book has been such a journey, so to speak, for me. I'm positive that this week changed me. This book changed me and the way I think. I thank Anne Frank for this. Sometime in the near future I shall visit the house, and the "Secret Annexe", to pay my respects.
on 14 September 2000
I found that this book was impossible to put down. I found myself befriending Anne Frank through her diary entries and I felt almost as if I had known her. The horror that Anne Frank went through is captivated in her diary so that we may all know the horror that comes with war. Unlike other books concerning this period in time, the story of Anne Frank does not need horrific pictures of concentration camp victims or unbeleivable statistics of those who were killed. Indeed, the very fact that Anne's inoccent life was taken away is enough to horrify ,at least me, more than any other book. The message that ordinary people, like you and me, were killed is emphasised through this book and in the way that we begin to think of Anne as a friend. This certainly must be one of the most influential books that I have ever read.
on 24 February 2011
I decided to read Anne Frank's diary following an (arguably morbid) interest in the Jewish Holocaust, the concentration camps and its many victims. I've read bits of 'Night' and a good bit of 'Alicia: My Story' and a few others and they are all shocking and heart-breaking and enough to keep me awake for hours, just wondering ... but I have to say Anne Frank's diary got to me that little bit more. To write a diary you don't necessarilly have to be a wonderful writer - Anne has the makings of a writer, that's obviius, but she's not trying to be a professional writer in her diary. This diary is simply a genuine piece of real-life journalism full of thoughts and whims of a 14 year old girl.
I personally found it more compelling than some of the more graphically narrated books that have been written by Holocaust Victims. I mean yes these other books and accounts did frighten me, made me cry, made me angry, made me question myself and humanity and all the rest of it, but there was something much more alive about Anne's diary. With other books, I get the feeling that they've been planned out, redrafted, perfected etc - whereas Anne's has that genuine, modest quality - I know it's been looked at and edited by her father and probably by publishers etc, but the writing is still very very raw and what you might call 'in the moment'.
There aren't many exciting bits in it - in fact I can't remember ever feeling the same kind of emotions I did when reading 'My Story' by Alicia Appleman (which can truly shock) but you get the sense of desperation of so many people hiding in such a small space, the frustrations of not being able to go outside and live a normal life, the fear and tension of being found at any given moment, the guilt of resting so much responsibility on other people and you see it all just from Anne's point of view. For someone of her age, I find it quite compelling to be so aware and so in touch with the people that are around her. Whether it's the situation she's in or the idea of things that are happening, I don't really know - but she comes across as sensitive and sympathetic, even though she still has this wonderful childish quality (like when she's complaining about Mrs van Pels).
Over the two years Anne writes in the diary, she grows from 13 years old to 15 (nearly 16) and anyone would agree that those years are when you start becoming your own self, you explore yourself, make decisions about your future, think about relationships etc - it's a very exciting time for anyone and Anne doesn't hold back. Even though she's in this horrible little situation, she watches herself grow, she comments on how she becomes closer to Margot, confides in her etc, she talks about her feelings towards Peter and her determination just gets stronger and stronger. She also becomes more and more aware and accepts what might be happening outside, but I think these ideas make her more determined.
I wouldn't call the book exciting or frightening - it's tense at times, but overall, it's quite gentle and just about teenage life in a situation that most people are not familiar with. What is so heart-breaking about it is Anne's own ambitions - she wishes she could be a writer, never dreaming her diary would have anything to do with it. She makes plans of everything she wishes to do when the war is over and when she's free ... for me, I'd already looked her up and learnt what happened so I found it sad and very difficult to share her sense of hope for herself and her ambitions. I knew the outcome and I knew she wasn't going to see the end of the war, she wasn't ever going to be free ... but ironically she did become a famous writer - just not how she'd hoped. For those who don't know how Anne's story end, I suppose the little statement at the back of the diary is enough to make you feel a sort of loss.
With an engaging combination of lively humour, teenage high spirits, adolescent angst and heart-wrenching despair at the terror that dominated her nights and days in a rickety Amsterdam warehouse, Anne Frank's diary is a living testimony to the senseless slaughter that took place in the Nazi concentration camps. Although she was an exceptionally gifted writer, in most respects she was just an ordinary teenage girl who was denied the chance of an ordinary teenage life. For me, this knowledge injected even the most humorous diary entries with a sense of sick irony - Anne is innocently hopeful throughout most of the book, but in the end she lost out. Her anguished cry, "Let the end come, even if it is hard!" came true, and sixty years later this harrowing quote speaks volumes, telling readers of the diary exactly how difficult conditions in the Secret Annexe were.
But in spite of this, Anne does not allow you to pity her. She is too lively, too quick-minded, too full of beans to tolerate that. Her personality and those of the seven people she shared a cramped attich with shine forth from the diary's pages.
The diary has special meaning for me as I am close to one of Anne and Margot's old friends, who unlike them returned alive. I am now the age Anne was when she died. Strangely, I too want to become a writer. Anyone who dares to dream about what they would like to do tomorrow should read this book.
on 27 July 2003
Reading this book is both rewarding and sad, so prepare yourself your both. I'm less than half way through this book and I feel nothing but sadness that such a life was taken at such a young time in life. I wish I could express my feeling about this book in the same way Anne could express herself in her diary, but I don't possess such a talent, even though I'm twenty years her senior. Like most people, I know what Anne's destiny is, and I find some aspects of this diary very difficult to read, knowing what I do.
I don't think I'm the only person alive that believes that the world is a poorer place without the talents of such gifted people like Anne, but we cant change the course of history, so lets hope we can learn the lesson of our past.
I'm not the type for travelling, but this diary has inspired me to visit Anne's 'secret Annex' to see first hand the place where she lived in isolation for so long. I've read many books in my time, but none have touched my heart as this one has.
on 10 October 2001
I didn't read this book when I was a teenager, like many do in school. Now, reading it for the first time in middle age, I wish I had read this many years ago! Moving, provoking, funny and painfully sad, all at the same time. The senseless murder of Anne brings to life the true barbarity of fascism in a accessable way. She wanted to be a writer after the war - on the basis of this dairy we can easily guess she would have been one of the best...
on 8 February 2005
It is impossible to read this true story without feeling sad. Anne's hopes, dreams and her confidence for her own future plans make it all the more poignant when you know that she never lived to see her sixteenth birthday. Out of the eight in hiding in The Annex only her father survived the concentration camps, all the others died in captivity, when you think about this when reading the book it makes it so dreadfully sad. It is the real story of how they survived, terrified they would be discovered, frustrated and fearful at their self imposed living conditions in hiding. This version of Anne Franks Diaries includes diary entries that had been omitted from previous editions. She is brutally honest about those she shared The Annex with and whilst her words often seem like those of a typical teenage girl, there is a world wiseness that shines though. The situation she finds herself in is one that few can ever imagine, it is more than a diary of a teenager but a social history too, one that I will always wish could have had a much happier ending.
The Diary of a Young Girl is the most poignant book I have ever read.
on 17 October 2005
This is an incredible book and I'm loath to even write this review as I know it will echo almost all the other reviews written about it.
I first chose this book in order to gain some more understanding of the historical situation, but in reality this book is not so much of a historical reference.
Anne Frank was a remarkable girl, intelligent beyond her 12 to 15 years (the age period through which she wrote it) she portrays the reality of her situation with an incite that is truly engaging. It's by no means simply a childs version of the war. Anne had a strong will, charisma and optomism which shined through her writing.
She was modest, caring, witty and above all truthful to her diary and herself. It's a humbling and deeply moving experience to be privy to her thoughts during those desperate times.
There was innocence in her writing, and her character analysis was frought with her own teenage angst. She drew simplistic conclusions to situations that occured, simplistic but still exceptional for her years.
One should read this book to feel good about how different times are now. I'll never forget it.
on 3 March 2009
Much has been written about Ann Frank's diary since her father Otto first published selected extracts in 1947. Since then it has featured as a stage play, feature film, and sold some 65 million copies, and more recently a TV dramatisation. So, this 60th anniversary edition which is a complete version of the diary (as opposed to the earlier shortened version edited by Otto himself) gives a much fuller insight into the mind of a young teenage girl of the 1940s. Having known what Ann's and her family's eventual fate is, the diary is full of pathos.....on the surface it is the writing of a teenager - full of teenage angst, conflicts with her parents exacerbated with the stultifying confinement of the attic, her realisation of her first innocent experiences of falling in love. It is easy to get into the mind of young Ann, her anxieties, the mundane nature of her existence whilst atrocities were being perpetrated all around her, her feelings for her Nazi persecutors, and her doubts for the future -which was so cruelly torn from her. All in all, a fitting testament to the courage of those determined to try to survive the monster that was Hitler and Nazism.