Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Deconstructionism and Anne Frank? [iv]

Proceeding with the topic of Anne Frank, which I'm truely passionate about. You'd be asking (well if anyone would be ever reading this at all) why I'd like to talk about Anne and Deconstructionism; I believe it's just fair as far as we're talking about literature and history, which is what makes the character of Anne Frank and her diary(ies) a canon in the history of European contemporary literature, and more particularly maybe in the canon of Holocaust literature, of Jewish literature and of children's literature.

I wouldn't be able to say whether Anne Frank herself is that particularly universal as the media has pretended us to believe in order to create a super-Anne Frank that would bring revenues to the Anne Frank Stichting (Holland) and Fund (Switzerland). Then we're talking about a mistified Anne Frank; and hence a particularly politically correct denial of the Holocaust and the Jewish-Dutch and Jewish-German experience during and following World War the 2nd. For each and every child in the West (and probably also in the east as the diary[ies] was successful translated into Japanese for example) and in particular in war-aware countries such as the Netherlands and the USA, have cried and laughed and smiled before the words written by a young girl known as Anne-Frank Hollaender. I believe the universality of her "work" does not rely on the fact that her concepts are universal themselves, but because the scope of the human experience in which the diary was built gives place to different phenomena that are common to the human sensibility, and that therefore might affect our general sensibilities. The Diary is actually not read in our history classes or in social science lessons, but rather in the fashion of language and literature, hence we cannot talk about universal concepts product of social dichotomies and phenomena that are common to each and every kid.

The theater plays and movies on the diary have tried vehemently to de-Hebraize the personality of Anne Frank, the personality in the text. Hence sentences such as "Why the Jews suffer?" are omitted and in many cases replaced by for example "Why people suffers?". To take away from the diary its Jewish character is to devoid Anne Frank of her inner value and of her life experience itself. Anne Frank was not "murdered" because she was a girl, a young girl, or because she was Dutch [because in fact she was NOT] but because she was Jewish, and that must be clear to the audience that pretends to plunge their ears into the sounds of her diary and the 2nd World War in general. You cannot destroy the Jewishness of Anne Frank in the text, which is basically a pivotal axis of the "theme", yet not of the substance which remains truely universal. Children-parents relationship, accute moral observations and above all, I believe the diary is specially particular because of the simple but deep philosophical divagations the young girl engages us into.

Anne Frank was not only a "young girl" whose procrastinations and illusions we've been reading since our young age; Anne Frank is indeed a particularly literary "persona" and the book beyond its historical meaning should be understood as a literary text; that's the homage we pay to Anne Frank. Many people was killed during the Nazi occupation and probably many diaries were written, and many of them have been therefore published but none of them has reached the level of success and international difusion Anne's did. The Diary was not simply a diary, but literary craftwomanship that has trascended the boundaries of the simple "telling" discourse and has become a canon, of children's literature and of Holocaust literature. The term of Holocaust literature is relatively new and the coining of the term might be inaccurate but if righteously so, Anne Frank shall occupy a place among the canons of this particularly non-uniform literary definition next to others such as Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi; although Miep Gies (who is not Jewish) and Stella Mueller-Madej should be included in this grouping as well.

Anne Frank is a literary phenomena that has sold millions of books, produced endless films and theater plays in different languages from all over the world. I believe we should retain the image of Anne the writer without forgetting the driving force and motivation to teach our kids about her "work". We can say even she was a writer in the make, consciously so. She dreamt about the times of the post-war when she'd become a writer and a journalist. We must honour her as the writer in order to satisfy those dreams that the Nazi machine of war cut off; in Bergen-Belsen, the concentration camp, we lost Anne Frank the writer, who might have been an "asset" indeed for the Dutch literature, for woman's literature and for Jewish literature. See the example of Laureen Nussbaum, who met Anne Frank in her childhood. Without having the apparent talent of Anne, Mrs. Nussbaum became a phenomenon in the feminist school in the United States and has been for already some time an emeritus lecturer in the field of literature; and also one of the persons that has honoured Anne Frank, for example through her contribution to the book "Women writing" with her essay "Women writing in Dutch". Mrs. Nussbaum might as well prepare a new edition of the diaries, that might not see the light at anytime soon.

[to be continued]

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