Representations of Anne Frank in American Literature  book cover
1st Edition

Representations of Anne Frank in American Literature

ISBN 9780367868727
Published December 10, 2019 by Routledge
254 Pages

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Book Description

This book explores portrayals of Anne Frank in American literature, where she is often invoked, if problematically, as a means of encouraging readers to think widely about persecution, genocide, and victimisation; often in relation to gender, ethnicity, and race. It shows how literary representations of Anne Frank in America over the past 50 years reflect the continued dominance of the American dramatic adaptations of Frank’s Diary in the 1950s, and argues that authors feel compelled to engage with the problematic elements of these adaptations and their iconic power. At the same time, though, literary representations of Frank are associated with the adaptations; critics often assume that these texts unquestioningly perpetuate the problems with the adaptations. This is not true. This book examines how American authors represent Frank in order to negotiate difficult questions relating to representation of the Holocaust in America, and in order to consider gender, coming of age, and forms of inequality in American culture in various historical moments; and of course, to consider the ways Frank herself is represented in America. This book argues that the most compelling representations of Frank in American literature are alert to their own limitations, and may caution against making Frank a universal symbol of goodness or setting up too easy identifications with her. It will be of great interest to researchers and students of Frank, the Holocaust in American fiction and culture, gender studies, life writing, young adult fiction, and ethics.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Telling Stories in New Ways? Anne Frank in American Literature

Chapter 1: Prosthetic Fictions: Philip Roth’s Anne Franks

Chapter 2: The Banality of Anne Frank: Open Secrets in Norma Rosen's Touching Evil (1969) and Joyce Carol Oates's Mother, Missing (2005)

Chapter 3: 'Cheating History': Anne Frank and the Photograph in Anne Tyler's Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982) and Elinor Lipman's The Inn at Lake Devine (1998)

Chapter 4: Skewed Views: What Anne Frank Teaches in Stephanie S. Tolan's The Liberation of Tansy Warner (1980) and John Green's The Fault in Our Stars (2012)

Chapter 5: Uprooting the Lost Child: Cultivating Identifications in C.K. Williams's "A Day for Anne Frank" (1968), Marjorie Agosin's Dear Anne Frank (1998), and Paul Auster's The Invention of Solitude (1982)

Chapter 6: In Other Words: Anne Frank and the Alternate (Personal) History in Ellen Feldman's The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank (2005) and Jillian Cantor's Margot (2013)

Chapter 7: 'What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank': Holocaust Impiety and Competitive Memory in Shalom Auslander's Hope: A Tragedy (2012) and Nathan Englander's "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank" (2012)

Chapter 8: States of Confusion: Anne Frank and America in Michelle Cliff's Abeng (1984) and "A Visit to the Anne Frank House" (1985)

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Rachael McLennan is Senior Lecturer in American Literature and Culture at the University of East Anglia, UK.


This is a ground-breaking book that pulls off the rare trick of being both ­theoretically savvy and entertaining and accessible. Moving beyond the polemical and parochial discourses in which the legacy of Anne Frank has too often been mired, McLennan provides a series of nuanced discussions of the ways in which Anne Frank has been represented in a diverse range of material, from canonical texts such as Philip Roth’s The Ghost Writer through to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.

 -- David Brauner, University of Reading, UK