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A sex scene for Anne Frank?

Sharon Dogar, a British author known for her novels aimed at teenagers, has reimagined the Anne Frank story to include romance with Peter van Pels, and sex. Annexed: The Incredible Story of the Boy Who Loved Anne Frank is told through Peter's diary entries and covers the period in the annex as well as his experience in the concentration camps, which she reportedly told The Sunday Times was the most important part of her book. Important as it may be, an Anne Frank sex scene will undoubtedly be the focus of attention for the novel's release.

Buddy Elias, Anne Frank’s first cousin who was close with her father, read the book and is not happy. "Anne was not the child she is in this book," he said. "I also do not think that their terrible destiny should be used to invent some fictitious story." He also claims that Peter's personality is also misrepresented in Dogar's version. In the Telegraph article, Charlie Sheppard, editorial director of Andersen Press, the publisher, is quoted saying that Dogar felt like they had sex, and that it was edited out of the published diaries. 

At Jezebel, Sadie Stein wonders if this reimagining is in poor taste, calling it "the Anne Frank sex scene you haven't been waiting for." She writes: 

It's fiction, and Dogar can make up anything she likes. The taste level may be arguable - so far it's only out in the UK, and I have not yet read it - but my main thought was, why? Anne Frank's diary is a genuine and beautiful piece of writing purely because of its authenticity. Much of its power comes from the very uneventfulness of their limited existences, and I don't know why you'd want to disregard that. Dogar is a sensitive writer, and her Falling and Waves are good novels - but not short on the sensuality. I'm not guessing this'll do any damage to Frank's legacy, but it could open the floodgates for a bizarre subgenre.

Reimaginings -- whether they be feminist re-interpretations of bible stories or fan fiction -- can be a useful way to process and learn from existing stories. They can also be gratifying in that they let you change the story to make things happen the way you think they should have happened, or the way you wish they happened. It can useful in making older stories relatable to modern audiences. (Could modern teens relate to Anne better if she were sexually active?) Whether it's a good idea to mess around with tragic and sensitive stories like Anne Frank's, though, is a difficult question. What do you think?

4 Comments


"Could modern teens relate to Anne better if she were sexually active?"



 Sure, but what are they then relating to in that case? Part of the power of Anne Frank's diary is that she was a normal teenager amidst everything else that was going on, but it's her fate that makes hers such an important story, not whether or not she had sex with Peter; otherwise, she's just another teenager writing in a diary. We don't continue to read/teach Anne Frank because she happened to keep a diary. We do so b/c she happened to keep a diary and she was Jewish in Europe and in hiding and was killed in the Holocaust.



It seems to me that this misses the point of teaching Anne Frank to students - maybe a more contemporary "character" is easier to identify with, but isn't it also our job to teach kids to understand people who are different from them?



I'd like to give teens a little more credit that they can relate to someone on a variety of levels, and sex isn't a prerequisite for that.

Hi Sharon, I take your point that the book may have been mischaracterized, as far as the sex issue goes. But the blog posts you list here in rebuttal are mostly just cheering for the book.

Which is fine, but they don't address the issue raised in this particular post, which is that of re-imagining historical people, and particularly the Holocaust: "Whether it's a good idea to mess around with tragic and sensitive stories like Anne Frank's, though, is a difficult question. What do you think?"

I'm afraid you may have fallen into thetrap of believing what you read in the papers. I'm so sorry if the original article (picked up, sent round the world, further distorted, but somehow rarely questioned) has upset anyone, but then again, that's what itÌ¢‰â‰ã¢s designed to do; and it's alsodesigned to make people believe that the author of the book is responsible forthat upset, rather than the journalist who wrote the article.

At no stage in my book, now, or ever,have I suggested that Anne and Peter had sex.

It would be so helpful if people couldreserve judgement until having read the book. Here are some reviews by peoplewho have read it, in case youÌ¢‰â‰ã¢d like to consider other perspectives.

http://theallureofbooks.blogspot.com/2010/06/review-annexed-by-sharon-dogar.html

http://insertbooktitle.blogspot.com/2010/05/annexed-by-sharon-dogar.html

http://ryanthelibrarian.blogspot.com/2010/06/current-annexed-by-sharon-dogar.html

She IS kidding herself, right? Where is the "dislike" button? She knows that sex sells. This is an act of desperation for greater literary fame. But Anne Frank's own voice can sell on its own.

Anne Frank
Full image

Perhaps the most famous child and most famous memoirist to have been a victim of World War II, the young Anne Frank (1929 – 1945) did not survive the Holocaust—but her diary did. With more than fifty language translations and more than thirty million copies sold, The Diary of Anne Frank today remains at the center of discussions of antisemitism, Holocaust memory, national guilt and responsibility, Jewish identity, acculturation, literature, drama, child psychology, and even historical revisionism, but above all, as the symbol of a young girl's belief in humankind's innate goodness and her hope for a better future.

Institution: Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.

How to cite this page

Berkenwald, Leah. "A sex scene for Anne Frank?." 22 June 2010. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 23, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/a-sex-scene-for-anne-frank>.

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