Tag Archives: The Diary of Anne Frank

Anne Frank – Diary of a Young Girl

5 stars5/5

At almost twice the age Anne was when she write the last lines in her famous diary, I think back and try to remember back to my own inner-monologue as a teenager.

Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl Penguin 60th Anniversary Edition

Penguin, 2007, 60th Anniversary Edition, 368 pages - personal library

On one hand I wonder at her expressive writing and then remember that I as a young person I naturally had a certain freedom of expression and might have been as bold, although not as eloquent! I believe it is Anne’s candidness, which is both innocent and knowing that has made Anne’s diary appeal to millions of readers. As a young person you instantly relate, and as a ‘grown-up’ you suddenly remember what it was like to feel all those complicated emotions. Although it cannot be denied that Anne is self aware, there is an unguarded spirit that is not usually found in adult writing. I can see why some people have refused to believe it was real, because she writes so well, but then it is my view that people often do not give young people credit for the ability to question and for their depth of thinking. Perhaps those people have truly forgotten their youthful selves and how serious and important their concerns were to them.

I picked up my copy of The Diary of a Young Girl when I visited Holland last August. In my Religious Education classes at school I learned the contextual significance of Anne’s diary but I didn’t actually read it, and I have to admit that going to visit the Anne Frank Huis wasn’t top of my list of things to do. Then a friend at work warmly recommended I add it to my itinerary on my visit to Amsterdam and I’m glad to say that it was a truly excellent because of how thoughtfully the exhibition was put together. It also made me want to finally read the diary so I picked up a copy in the shop and when Savidge Reads chose it as one of his books to read before his 30th (his recent review is here) I bumped it up my TBR.

Bookcase - Hidden Stairway - Anne Frank

Amazing - the hidden stairway behind the bookcase - and rather appropriate for a book-blog don't you think?

Well by the 5 star rating and my effusive comments you must have guessed already that I found Anne’s diary to be a fantastic read. I was completely drawn into Anne’s world, shared her moments of speculation, boredom, anger, claustrophobia and fear, sheer delight at simple treats and her emotional ups and downs with her Mother (some seriously harsh words!), her much-admired Father, Peter, and the aggravating Mr Dussel and Mrs van Dann. At times Anne is petulant, irritating. At times she is grateful. Throughout she remains honest and her words sound out her feelings as clear as a bell. Curiously, I didn’t feel overly emotional while reading it, but when I read the afterword her story really hit home. I suppose it’s because by the end of the book I felt as if I had come to know Anne, warts and all, and then to read in black and white what I already knew – that she died in a concentration camp after all that time hiding away – I just felt such sadness. What a waste of a life, and how representative of the lives wasted in that war, through hatred and ignorance. Well I’m really getting on my soapbox now, but it is a story which compels you to consider that fact and it is a heavy warning.

The funny thing is that though we know that the story ends sadly and there are  bitter moments of expression – Anne’s ‘violent outbursts on paper’, but the diary is mostly joyful and optimistic – full of beautiful words and thoughts.

“I’m young and strong and living through a big adventure; I’m right in the middle of it and can’t spend all day complaining because it’s impossible to have any fun! I’m blessed with many things: happiness, a cheerful disposition and strength. Every day I feel myself maturing, I feel liberation drawing near, I feel the beauty of nature and  the goodness of the people around me. Every day I think what a fascinating and amusing adventure this is. With all that, why should I despair?”

The Diary of a Young Girl is unmissable piece of History, and more than that it is a great piece of writing.

To sign off, a couple of photographs from my trip to the Netherlands last year which I never got around to posting at the time. [Photo credit goes to the OH as usual]. “Memories mean more to me than dresses” – Anne Frank.

Houses on the Canal, Amsterdam, Netherlands / Holland

Houses on the canal, Amsterdam.

Windmills - Kinderdijk, Netherlands.

Have you read Anne Frank’s diary or studied it at school?

Do you remember how you felt as a teenager (if you’re not any more!)?

Banned Books Week

Opening up the WordPress homepage in my browser, about to write a review I was distracted by a featured post from what looks to be rather a fab book blog The Insatiable Book Sluts. Firstly what a brilliant name and wow, what great combination of entertaining + thoughtful content and a pithy sense of humour.

Anyway, their most recent post What subversives are you reading has made me aware that Banned Books Week, sponsored by the American Library Association, The American Booksellers Association for Free Expression, and The National Coalition Against Censorship is running from 24th September-1st October. I’ve never heard of this – probably because it’s American. Also I never realised just how many associations needed to be set up in the US especially to lobby against censorship!! There is also a UK Banned Books website too by the way.

US banned books banner courtesy of DML East’s Flickr stream

 

Realistically I’m probably not going to squeeze in any additional reading especially for Banned Books Week. I am not even halfway through Daphne by Justine Picardie in preparation for the Discovering Daphne readalong that Savidge Reads and myself are running in October (starting with her first book The Loving Spirit – which I haven’t read yet and need to by 1st October), and have my book group read for Riverside Readers Dark Matter by Juli Zeh. However I will certainly having a little think about the banned or challenged books that I’ve read in the past.

Curiously some of the banned books I have read such as Lady Chatterly’s Lover, and Lolita I knew had been banned but in my naivete, I never realised that books like The Grapes of Wrath, or Catcher in the Rye, or The Great Gatsby (for goodness sakes!) had been so controversial at the time of publishing.

Did you know, that Jack London’s Call of the Wild was burned by the Nazis for being too socialist, that The Diary of Anne Frank was banned in the Lebanon for being too favourable towards Jews, and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland was banned in China’s Hunnan province for portraying animals on the same level as humans?

Quite honestly, censorship makes me feel a little bit queasy. In my view people should be able to choose what they do and do not want to read themselves and with children, it is the responsibility of the parents, not the state. For example, should Mein Kampf be banned? I would think that most people would feel uncomfortable reading it in public (brown paper cover anyone?) but it has it’s place in history . Though people with racist or far-right opinions might find it feeds their own existing views I don’t believe someone who starts out a moderate thinker would really be ‘turned’ to support Hitler’s views unless they are at least in part pre-disposed in the first place. Strongly secular people might wish that The Bible was banned for example as – look at the cult following that one has (Joke) – and that would considered a massive violation of people’s religious freedoms.

Banned Books Decal from Cafe Press

 

Isn’t it unfeasible to expect governments to try to stop someone reading it or being impressed by a book? This is why we have a national curriculum to help put events from our past in context and broaden not narrow people’s views so that they can come to what we hope is an educated and informed point of view rather than trying to control people’s thoughts (like in Orwell’s Nineteen Eight-Four, another banned book!). I believe that exposing ourselves to a myriad of reading experiences makes us more thoughtful and open minded. Many of the banned books that I have read in the past have been wonderful books, books that have challenged me, opened my eyes to problems in society, racial tensions, bitter struggles.

Anyway, call me contrary, but doesn’t banning a book only make it more intriguing?

What banned books have you read? Will you take part in Banned Books Week? Do you think there is ever a case for censorship?