Peter van Pels

Speaking Frankly, About Anne

Though it only got a brief mention in today's New York Times, the attacks on a soon-to-be-published novel about Anne Frank have received considerable more play in England.  The Sunday Times of London broke--or rather, made--the news when it got Gillian Walnes, a member of the Anne Frank Trust, to publicly criticize Sharon Dogar's upcoming Anne Frank-inspired novel.  Walnes took issue with a section in the book, to be titled "Annexed," where Peter van Pels, a boy in the attic who Anne lived with, expresses romantic feelings for Anne. "I don't understand why this story has to be sexualised," Walnes told London's Sunday Times.

It looks like this latest kerfuffle will take its place in the long list of woes surrounding Anne Frank's legacy. It's worth remembering that Frank's diary, published by her father Otto, in 1947, two years after his 15-year-old daughter died in Bergen-Belsen, has always attracted controversy.  In last year's "Anne Frank: The Book, The Life and the Afterlife," Francine Prose showed how even Otto tried to sanitize Anne's writing, cutting out the parts where Anne belittled her mother or talked about her period.

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