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Реферат: Review The Hidden Life Of Otto Frank

Название: Review The Hidden Life Of Otto Frank
Раздел: Топики по английскому языку
Тип: реферат Добавлен 13:31:47 15 ноября 2010 Похожие работы
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Review: The Hidden Life Of Otto Frank By Carol Ann Lee Essay, Research Paper

Only the children countThe Hidden Life of Otto Frankby Carol Ann Lee384pp, VikingAs he himself said, Otto Frank had a unique part to play in life. “It is a strange role,” he said in the 1970s. “In the normal family relationship, it is the child of the famous parents who has the honour and the burden of continuing the task. In my case the role is reversed.”Otto began to take on that strange role in September 1945 when he first opened the pages of his dead daughter’s diary. Almost immediately – and in the face of some opposition from friends and acquaintances – he decided that it had to be published.Carol Ann Lee’s biography naturally centres on this decision and its repercussions, and she takes to the necessary research like a duck to muddy water, laying out all the deals and the negotiations, the praise and the criticism, the arguments and the lawsuits, that dominated Otto’s life for the next 35 years.Yet somehow, in over 300 pages, Otto remains a rather blank character. This is partly because in his early life he didn’t leave much behind that could give us a way into this kind, generous, upstanding, but unremarkable member of an assimilated bourgeois German Jewish family. And it is also, I think, because Lee never quite brings into focus the relationship between Otto and his daughter while Anne was alive.At first I thought that this relationship remained out of reach because there was too little material that dealt with it directly. But then I read the book that Lee published three years ago, a biography of Anne Frank called Roses from the Earth. In this book, Lee reveals Otto’s protective and lively relationship with his daughter far better than she does here.Clearly, it’s because Lee is wary of repeating herself that she skates over so much of this material in the new biography. But when you have a figure like Otto Frank, whose interest to us centres on this one relationship, it is a mistake not to explore it as thoroughly as possible. I ended up reading the two books as companion volumes, and this is the best way into their intertwined lives.It is not, after all, the case that all happy families are alike – and until the Nazis destroyed it, the Frank family was fundamentally happy. Most fathers love their daughters, but very few have the kind of relationship that means that they become their daughter’s first confidant when she believes she is falling in love.When Anne first kissed Peter Van Pels while the family was in hiding, she told her father about it, and they ended up having a long, emotional discussion that ended in tears. We hear about many such moments of surprising intimacy in Lee’s biography of Anne, but not in Otto’s life.Clearly, Otto decided early on to treat Anne as a friend as well as a daughter. In 1939, for instance, he wrote her a letter – which again does not appear in this biography – in which he called her “You flattering little kitten”, but also spoke seriously about her bad temper and advised her to do as he tried to do, “to reflect a bit and find one’s way back to the right path”. Anne kept this letter, she said, “to serve as a support to me all my life”, and even passed it off to a schoolfriend as a love letter from an admirer.Lee glides over much of the available detail about the family’s life in hiding, and without that it is hard to grasp Otto’s remarkable courage as he worked to keep the family together. I guess Lee felt that nobody will read this book who has not read and loved Anne’s diary, and possibly also read her biography of Anne.The aspect of Otto’s story that absolutely fascinates Lee is the question of who betrayed the Frank family. She starts and ends the book with her theory that a man called Anton Ahlers both betrayed them and also had some kind of hold over Otto, so Otto actually ended up giving him money over the years.This theory could be true. Ahlers’s own son has come forward to support Lee’s tale, and historians working for the Dutch government have decided to make their own investigation in the light of this and an alternative new theory that has just surfaced. But her story is convoluted to read and, since all the protagonists are now dead, almost certainly unprovable.Perhaps, instead of chasing down these slippery red herrings, we should accept that we will never know for sure how it was that the Gestapo were directed to the secret annexe and the Franks dragged off on their journey to the death camps. If Ahlers was still alive, it would be worth going after him with all possible force, but now such tales of murderous intrigue add little to our picture of the Franks’ suffering, which was not based simply on one man’s vicious telephone call, but on the transformation of thousands of ordinary people into “willing executioners”.Although Lee does get bogged down from time to time, that is not to say that this biography is not moving. By the very nature of Lee’s material, it is hard to read without tears, especially when you arrive at the moment of the betrayal and its aftermath.Otto was the only survivor of the Franks’ journey into hell, and Lee’s dogged research pays off with her discovery of a journal that he kept after the liberation of Auschwitz. Together with the letters that he sent to his mother in Switzerland, Lee builds up a memorable picture of a man struggling out of the valley of death, thinking all the time, “Only the children, only the children count. I hope continually to find out how they are.”Only the children count. That was the case for Otto for the rest of his life, as he dedicated himself to making Anne’s voice heard. But his involvement in her memorialising was not without its problems. Above all, it is extraordinary to see how Otto himself supported the attempts to “universalise” – or travesty – Anne’s story in the stage and film adaptations of the diary by supporting the writers in their decision to remove almost every reference to her Jewishness.There is something almost revolting about the tales of the audiences consuming the play as a mere tale of tragic adolescence, and the director and actors constantly at pains to stress that “this is not primarily a Jewish play”. Yet Otto went along with all of this. “It was my point of view to try to bring Anne’s message to as many people as possible even if there are some who think it is a sacrilege,” he said in his defence.Lee is pretty kind about Otto’s actions in that regard, and also about his editing of Anne’s diary, which she calls simply “ingenious”. In fact, anyone who has read his version of the diary alongside the full Critical Edition can see that his version was extremely problematic, since it airbrushed out so many of the thornier aspects of Anne’s sexual and emotional development. Although without his starry view of Anne, we might never have had any access to her work, we can now see that Otto’s sweetened version of her words never did justice to her as a writer.But Lee’s reluctance to scrutinise Otto too harshly is understandable. There is something about him that makes criticism sound tinny. A word that is rarely heard was often used about him: spiritual. Many people who met him in later life were staggered by the way he had managed to confront the past without being consumed by anger or bitterness. And even from a great distance, he commands respect.Fifty-six years after the first publication of the diary, it is impossible not to admire the father whose love for his daughter brought to life the work of a young woman who was not only an emblem, not only a victim, but also a real writer.· Natasha Walter is the author of The New Feminism (Virago)

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Olya23:30:52 28 августа 2019
.23:30:51 28 августа 2019
.23:30:50 28 августа 2019
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