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The Girl in the Attic

Jenny Diski, 6 March 1997

The Diary of a Young Girl 
by Anne Frank, edited by Otto Frank and Mirjam Pressler, translated by Susan Massotty.
Viking, 339 pp., £16, February 1997, 0 670 87481 7
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... of prayer, rather as one feels anxious about sending important letters to large organisations. Anne Frank is the only Jewish saint. I first read the diary of Anne Frank when I was about the same age as she was when she began to write it. She seemed to me perfectly to fit the bill as a possible ...

Philip Roth’s House of Fiction

Michael Mason, 6 December 1979

The Ghost Writer 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 180 pp., £4.95
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... about Amy is that she is herself a fantasist, and that she imagines herself to be none other than Anne Frank (in the interlocking fashion of the novel, Anne Frank has earlier been extolled by Nathan’s father as the ideal Jewish author). The reader is extraordinarily disconcerted when the narrative returns to the ...

Turtle upon Turtle

Christian Lorentzen: Nathan Englander, 22 March 2012

What We Talk about When We Talk about Anne Frank 
by Nathan Englander.
Weidenfeld, 207 pp., £12.99, February 2012, 978 0 297 86769 2
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... up in the title story of Nathan Englander’s collection What We Talk about When We Talk about Anne Frank. Two Jewish couples drinking and smoking pot one afternoon in Florida call it ‘the Anne Frank game’. If a second Holocaust were to start up, which of their Gentile neighbours would give them a hiding ...

Philip Roth talks about his work

Philip Roth, 5 March 1987

... Fifties; nor have I ever met a woman to whom I have been romantically drawn because she resembled Anne Frank, or whom I mentally transformed into Anne Frank and endowed with her status in order to try to clear myself of Jewish charges of self-hatred and anti-semitism.Though some readers may have trouble ...

In the Egosphere

Adam Mars-Jones: The Plot against Roth, 23 January 2014

Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books 
by Claudia Roth Pierpont.
Cape, 353 pp., £25, January 2014, 978 0 224 09903 5
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... hour’ of his time. In a postscript the judge recommends the Broadway production of The Diary of Anne Frank. Question 1 is: ‘If you had been living in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, would you have written such a story?’ Question 6 is: ‘What set of aesthetic values makes you think that the cheap is more valid than the noble and the slimy is more ...

‘OK, holy man, try this

Ian Hamilton: The Hypothetical Philip Roth, 22 June 2000

The Human Stain 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 361 pp., £16.99, May 2000, 0 224 06090 2
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... Franz Kafka had made it to America and there lived on to become a New Jersey schoolmaster? What if Anne Frank had survived and found out about the publication of her diary from a chance reading of Time magazine? What if a man could actually become a breast? What if a decent, shamefaced Jewish boy were to extol the joys of masturbation? And what if ...

Ozick’s No

John Lanchester, 4 February 1988

The Messiah of Stockholm 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Deutsch, 144 pp., £9.95, November 1987, 9780233981420
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The Birds of the Innocent Wood 
by Deirdre Madden.
Faber, 147 pp., £9.95, January 1988, 0 571 14880 8
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The Coast of Bohemia 
by Zdena Tomin.
Century, 201 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 09 168490 0
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... The Ghost Writer. In that book, Roth’s writer-hero Nathan Zuckerman met a girl he imagined to be Anne Frank, and extrapolated an agonising fantasy on her predicament: if she let it be known who she was she would effectively be destroying the meaning of her own book, whose resonance and exemplary weight depended on the fact of its author’s death. If ...

Hysterical Vigour

Frank Kermode, 23 October 2008

by Philip Roth.
Cape, 233 pp., £16.99, September 2008, 978 0 224 08513 7
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... Bernard Malamud (though the resemblance doesn’t seem close) and Amy is imagined to be possibly Anne Frank, rescued and resettled in America. Strange identifications echo round Roth’s collected works, and they aid the creation of narrative and biographical ambiguities that serve to protect the freedom of the imagination. In The Facts, an ...

If Goofy Could Talk

Frank Cioffi, 6 April 1995

When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals 
by Jeffrey Masson and Susan McCarthy.
Cape, 268 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 0 224 03554 1
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The Hidden Life of Dogs 
by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas.
Weidenfeld, 148 pp., £12.50, May 1994, 0 297 81461 3
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The Tribe of Tiger 
by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £12.99, October 1994, 0 297 81508 3
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... animals being slaughtered to those of the victims of the Holocaust, and of a steer being spared to Anne Frank being spared. They also suggest that there might be an equivalent of Yad Va Shem’s Avenue of Righteousness among the whales: ‘Perhaps whales sing sagas of great acts of sacrifice by whale cows of days gone by.’ Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, who ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Class’, 12 March 2009

The Class 
directed by Laurent Cantet.
May 2008
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... even if mainly at cross-purposes. The other kind of class has the pupils reading The Diary of Anne Frank and trying their hands at self-portraits. This is a complete mess. It’s not just that the pupils are no good at the exercise. They are embarrassed and oppressed by it, and Marin doesn’t understand why they are being difficult. He manages to ...


Clarence Brown, 12 December 1996

Tangled Loyalties: The Life and Times of Ilya Ehrenburg 
by Joshua Rubenstein.
Tauris, 482 pp., £19.50, July 1996, 1 85043 998 2
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... through the press. He was instrumental in the publication of a Russian translation of the Diary of Anne Frank, but the volume closer to his heart, The Black Book, a documentary account of Nazi atrocities against the Jewish populations in their path, was published only in 1980 in Jerusalem (an English translation came out in New York in 1981). I know of ...


Jonathan Heawood: Adam Thorpe’s new novel, 18 August 2005

The Rules of Perspective 
by Adam Thorpe.
Cape, 341 pp., £12.99, May 2005, 0 224 05187 3
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... is barely explained; but her appearance in the novel is clearly supposed to remind the reader of Anne Frank and her account of the war – which, Thorpe intimates, cannot be evaded by any subsequent writer. Frank’s diary is the paradigm of authenticity, a text which speaks only to and for its author. Entries from ...

She wore Isabel Marant

Joanna Biggs: Literary London, 2 August 2018

by Olivia Laing.
Picador, 140 pp., £12.99, June 2018, 978 1 5098 9283 9
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... Bannon’s resigned. They all checked their phones. Bruce Forsyth had also died, he was older than Anne Frank, but the main news was Bannon. It had literally just happened, no one quite knew why, great wedding present she muttered to no one in particular. Confederate statues were being pulled down all over America, often in the night, mayors were just ...

Drowning out the Newsreel

Katie Trumpener: Nazi Cinema, 12 March 2009

Nazis and the Cinema 
by Susan Tegel.
Continuum, 324 pp., £30, April 2008, 978 1 84725 211 1
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Cinema and the Swastika: The International Expansion of Third Reich Cinema 
edited by Roel Vande Winkel and David Welch.
Palgrave, 342 pp., £62, February 2007, 978 1 4039 9491 2
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Prague in Danger: The Years of German Occupation 1939-45 
by Peter Demetz.
Farrar, Straus, 274 pp., $25, April 2009, 978 0 374 28126 7
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... a fan magazine, heavily illustrated and printed in colour, was widely read in occupied France. Anne Frank slept in a bedroom adorned with photographs of the Third Reich movie star Heinz Rühmann (alongside Ray Milland and Deanna Durbin), and devoured the weekly Dutch film magazine, devoted largely to German releases, that the family’s helpers ...

Antigone on Your Knee

Terry Eagleton, 6 February 2020

A Cultural History of Tragedy: Vols I-VI 
edited by Rebecca Bushnell.
Bloomsbury Academic, 1302 pp., £395, November 2019, 978 1 4742 8814 9
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... of other media. We encounter it all the way from Taxi Driver and Mulholland Drive to The Diary of Anne Frank and Amy Winehouse, from the classical hubris of O.J. Simpson to the collective hubris of ecological disaster. With Freud and the existentialists, tragedy continues to colonise philosophy, as David Kornhaber points out. In a fluid, fragmented ...

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