Sunday, October 25, 2015

October Reread - The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition - Anne Frank

As someone who grew up reading (and rereading) the previous version of this book, I was really excited to read this newer version when it was first released in the 1990s. This was mainly because it contained a lot of new material that had been omitted for various reasons from the version I grew up with. That seemed incredible to me - to have thought for so long that the diary was a finite document, and to find out that in fact, there was a lot more to be discovered - it was a wonderful gift.

To be honest, though, I have mixed feelings about some of the "new" material. In some cases, the passages are completely innocuous and just add depth to the reader's experience of Anne's life in her own words. In other cases, though, I sort of wish some of the passages that are obviously of a more personal and private nature had been left out. Part of this feeling is that I feel sure that Anne didn't intend these passages to be read by others, and might be horrified to think that other people are reading things she would never have intended for publication. The addition of these passages has also opened up the book to criticism from the book banners, who can now point to these passages as a good excuse to keep younger people from reading the book. I'm sure this was unintended, and it shouldn't factor in to a decision about editing any book, but it's the reality of today's political climate here in the US, unfortunately. But all in all, the new translation and the new material deepen my love for this book, one of my favorites.

Obviously, I had originally intended to reread this book over the summer, since it was part of my summer reading theme, but that didn't quite happen. I originally intended to read all 4 versions of the diary together, but soon discovered that this wasn't easily done. As it happened, the previous edition and the French edition I have corresponded exactly, but the Dutch version I have corresponds to this version exactly - so I chose to read the books in pairs instead. I'm very slow at reading in Dutch so it took me a lot longer to read that version, which is why I wasn't able to finish it in the summer. Obviously I would have rather finished it sooner, but still, reading this book is the achievement of a life goal I set for myself as a child, so I'm still happy I managed to make it happen.

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