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The Stolen Legacy of Anne Frank: Meyer Levin, Lillian Hellman, and the Staging of the Diary Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 25, 1997
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From Library Journal
Melnick (library director and instructor of religion, William Northampton Sch., Massachusetts) focuses here on the obsession of journalist and thwarted playwright Meyer Levin in bringing to the world Anne Frank's story. Levin believed he had the rights to bring to life the stage production of the Diary as Anne Frank had meant it to be, after repeated discussions with her father. Otto Frank rejected Levin and his proposed work, hiring instead Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, a husband-and-wife team whose version was "safe." This purported bastardization of Anne Frank's diary led to Levin's 30-year obsession, which consumed him. Melnick gives every detail of the affair (too much for general readers), convincingly enough to refute Lawrence Graver's recent An Obsession with Anne Frank (Univ. of California, 1995). For those who never questioned the completeness or accuracy of Anne Frank's Diary, the resulting arguments and revelations are enlightening, yet "the Diary, now 50 years old, remains astonishing and excruciating."?Kay Meredith Dusheck, Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A painstakingly detailed account of the long and bitter battle over the American stage adaptation of Anne Frank's famous diary. Melnick, a religion instructor at Williston Northampton School, has sifted through thousands of pages of correspondence and legal briefs to trace how novelist Meyer Levin shepherded the diary to an American publisher, gave it prominence with a New York Times review, first suggested it be adapted for Broadway in 1951, and wrote a faithful theatrical version. However, Otto Frank, Anne's assimilationist father, was persuaded to reject his version in favor of the husband-and-wife team Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett and producer Kermit Bloomgarden. All three were close to Lillian Hellman, who helped with the last few of the eight drafts of the play. Although the production was a major success and earned a Pulitzer, Melnick convincingly demonstrates that Levin was fully justified in his charge that they de-Judaized Anne Frank's diary. For example, Anne's words, ``Perhaps through Jewish suffering, the world will learn good,'' were revised in the play to ``Jews were not the only ones who suffered from the Nazis.'' Melnick also documents how unrelenting the playwrights and producer were in ``suppressing'' Levin's play, which first saw the light of day in the US in a 1972 student production. Melnick also recounts how the Levin-Hellman feud became entangled in the politics of McCarthyism. Finally, the reader is shown how Levin's three-decade-long crusade tyrannized his own life; at one point, Melnick reveals, Levin's long-suffering wife, Tereska, feeling she had lost her husband to his endless vendetta, tried to drown herself in the Hudson. Melnick's impressively documented work is a resounding refutation of Lawrence Graver's 1995 anti-Levin An Obsession with Anne Frank. But the author's almost blow-by-blow account of the long dispute will limit its accessibility to only the hardiest of Anne Frank, Meyer Levin, Lillian Hellman, or American theater aficionados. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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