Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Diary of Anne Frank, suffused with adolescent angst

Not one flowing with saccharine pulp, as one might expect. Previously undiscovered letters of Anne Frank have been obtained by an Amsterdam museum. Guardian today published a selection. From the ungainly prattle of her filial words, emerges one such letter in which Anne asks her father Otto, with brutal honesty, to mind his own business in her love affair with Peter van Pels:

Dear Father,

I think you expect an explanation from me, so I'll give you one and because I find it easier to write than to talk, I'll do it on paper.

I believe that you're disappointed in me, that you expected more restraint from me and so you worry about things that don't require any worry. Since we've been here, from July 1942 until a few weeks ago, I haven't had an easy time. If only you knew how much I used to cry at night, how despondent and unhappy I was, how lonely I felt, you'd understand my wanting to go upstairs! It didn't happen overnight that I reached the point where I can live without the support of Mother or anyone else. I've struggled long and hard, and shed many tears to become as independent as I am now.

Mother can laugh and you can refuse to believe me, but I don't care - I know that I'm an independent person and I don't feel I am answerable to you. I'm only telling you this because I thought you might otherwise think I was being too secretive*, but you don't need to think that I have shirked my responsibility. I'm only accountable for my actions to myself; that's something no father or mother has any right to!

When I was having problems, everybody, including you, closed their eyes and ears and didn't help me. On the contrary, all I ever got was rebukes for being too noisy. I was noisy only to keep myself from being miserable all the time, I was overconfident to keep from having to listen to the voice inside me. I've been putting on an act the last year and a half, day in, day out. I didn't drop my mask, I didn't complain and I've never had anyone who took any notice of me, nothing of the kind, and yet I've won, the battle is over! I'm independent, in both body and mind. I don't need a mother any more, and I've emerged from the struggle a stronger person!

Now that it's over, now that I know the battle has been won, I want to go my own way, to follow the path that seems right to me. Don't think of me as a 14-year-old, since all these troubles have made me older; I won't regret my actions. I'll behave the way I think I should! Gentle persuasion won't keep me from going upstairs. You'll either have to forbid it, or trust me through thick and thin. And I ask you to do the latter, even if you maybe won't do it willingly. Just leave me alone, if you don't want me to stop trusting you for good!


*because I trusted you, because I thought that you'd understand

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