When reading Anne Frank’s diary, it’s possible to feel both intrusive and honored at the same time. You are, after all, reading a girl’s diary, in which she has clearly entrusted all of her innermost feelings and thoughts. But there’s a sense of honor about reading her words – it’s sort of like having a close friend gushing her private thoughts to you, trusting you with her most valuable secrets. Anne is relatable, above all else, possibly because her writing is so unfailingly honest and unashamed about feelings that are universal and timeless to adolescents the world over. Because we can relate to her, we care about her and empathize with her situation.
It’s easy to forget while reading Anne’s words that they are, in fact, the words of her personal diary. She was clearly a very naturally talented writer. We know our diaries weren’t so beautifully written when we were that age! What’s also interesting about the text is how it subtly captures her maturation as a writer – her style noticeably improves from beginning to end. Here are two passages, the first from the first year, and the second from the last month of her writing:
“Mother’s reading Gentlemen, Wives and Servants, and of course I’m not allowed to read it (though Margot is!). First I have to be more intellectually developed, like my genius of a sister. Then we discussed my ignorance of philosophy, psychology and physiology (I immediately looked up these big words in the dictionary!). It’s true, I don’t know anything about these subjects. But maybe I’ll be smarter next year!” (9/21/1942)
“We talked about the most private things, but we haven’t yet touched upon the things closest to my heart. I still can’t make head or tail of Peter. Is he superficial, or is it shyness that holds him back, even with me? But putting all that aside, I made one mistake: I used intimacy to get closer to him, and in doing so, I ruled out other forms of friendship.” (7/15/1944)
Due to Anne’s rather mature style, many conspiracy theories questioned and outright denied the diary’s authenticity. Most claims target the analytical nature of her personal insights – Anne’s ability to examine her own actions, feelings, and neuroses – saying that such reflections were clearly written by someone older and wiser. Only after forensic studies in the final decades of the 20th century were Anne’s personal musings proved, without a doubt, to be remarkably her own (source).