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The Utopian Space of a Nightmare: The Diary of Anne Frank

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Agata Cudzilo

on 29 January 2014

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Transcript of The Utopian Space of a Nightmare: The Diary of Anne Frank

"Interestingly, [Anne] uses the Dutch word "opruimers" (pg. 19), which has been translated into "clearers-up" instead of cleaners-up, to describe herself and her father as if recognizing her role as more of a remover of chaos rather than of dust and dirt"
-page 134 of
The Utopian Space of a Nightmare: The Diary of Anne Frank
by Barbara Chiarello
The Utopian Space of a Nightmare: The Diary of Anne Frank
By: Courtney Toronto, Stephanie Antonova, Jon Ibanez, Jazmin Williamson, and Agata Cudzilo
Anne Frank's Utopia consisted out of three things:

*Her diary- wrote out feelings and opinions and used her diary as a friend

*Her dreams after the war- dreams like of becoming a journalist kept her going(like goals).

*Secret Annex- Was her safe-haven or as she told herself.
The academic society has yet to clearly define a utopia
One definition is "... a place that's too good to be true"

*Anne is able to recognize her gloom preventing her from going into denial
*Consciously chooses to triumph over the horror
*Chooses to laugh at her everyday discomforts, " We have a moth biscuit with syrup [the biscuit tin is kept in the wardrobe which is full of moth balls] and have fun"
* Laughs at her ineptitude
*Anne knows that her life is not perfect yet she creates a sort of utopia for herself by laughing
* Her diary agrees with Lyman Tower Sargent's point in his introduction to
British and American Utopian Literature
*Anne searches for and exaggerates the glimmers of hope in the war news
* Finds hope when the attempted assassination of Hitler failed
*Their different attitudes may be caused by Judaism's here and now as opposed to the utopia Christian heaven
* Friday, August 4th, 1944
* A worker named Van Maaren directed a German officer and several Dutch men upstairs to the bookcase
* Dutch officials belonged to the German Sicherheitdienst (Security Service)
* While waiting for the truck to transport the inhabitants Karl Silberbauer, the German officer, found out that Otto Frank was a German Reserve lieutenant during World War I
* Kitty is Anne's escape from the madness around her
* Anne takes on the role of a guide and uses her imagination to distract her
* Shields herself and Kitty from reality

* Moved into a small space with several people
* Although they lived with horrible conditions, Anne makes the best of it
* Uses her diary as her utopia
* Gives her freedom but it isn’t always enjoyable
* Thankful to be in her safe haven instead of suffering or being dead
* Had to shrink into almost nothing to survive
* Unlike the others, Anne had her diary as a

* Anne talks about her life problems and the outside world events going on
* Able to talk about her personal issues and not be afraid to express everything
* Lets out any anger/sadness into diary
* She was able to maintain a positive outlook on her life
* Her act of creating a utopia helps us learn to do the same

-Many utopian works have diary type entries
-Anne's diary stands as the only work that was not created to be published
-Seems to have a non-didactic tone
-Anne begins to write entries in her diary at the least fearful time for both her and us (post-Holocaust reader).
-She writes about her birthday party, dating, and maybe falling in love.
-July 8, 1942- this kind of writing ends when "years seem to have passed between Sunday and now... it is as if the whole world had turned upside down" (13).
Anne Frank entered a nightmare when she and her family went into hiding with others to avoid the Nazis, During this difficult period she learned to cope with this challenge by creating a Utopia. Her Utopia was not ideal for how could it be? But it was a Utopia to make Anne feel better. After all...

"We look for a Utopia when in the worst case scenario." - Ganatra
Journey is physical and spiritual
she travels foward in time to find her utopia and try to explain why she feels "...as if the whole world turned upside down" (13)

Anne talks about
her "beautiful bathroom... although it sounds mad, I think it is the best place of all" (35)
"secret den" (41)
events in "our little passage" (41)
"our super practical exquisite little 'Secret Annexe'" (51)
"sitting cozily in the main office" (60)
"quiet and safe here" (63)
"...(it made me shudder and wish I was safely upstairs again)..." (57)
she makes their "Secret Annexe" sound like it is a luxurious resort in an unsafe area
After the war... were the dreams, hopes, and concerns of Anne. It was a part of what made up her Utopia.
-Some of her dreams and hopes included:
*Becoming a journalist or writer
*How her relationship with
Peter will progress
*Studying hard so she will not
end up in first form
When she was near Peter she was never concerned about survival, but how their relationship would progress AFTER THE WAR.
* Not all situations are able to be seen positively
* Harriet A. Jacobs, American slave, hiding to save children from slavery
* Lived in a much smaller hiding space
* Only doing it to protect her kids
* She was more melancholy
* Jacobs probably couldn’t make a utopia because of such conditions
* Anne’s ideas about where she was living and how she might survive kept her from giving up
* She could have resorted to depression or ending everything
* Positive thoughts made her remain a happy person
* Her ideas changed the world including her own
* She had hope and that shows people to stay positive
* Teaches us that even someone in horrible situations like that can make things better for themselves

Class Discussion and Debate
Anne concentrates on feeding and expanding the soul rather than the body unlike Elie Wiesel in
. Her unrealistic hope and unreasonable courage is what kept her from falling into the "dark clouds". She manages to create a utopia for herself in the midst of such a foul time. As Otto Frank said, we should not only look at her with admiration and pity but also look to her as an inspiration.
The debate is based off of two different perspectives on Anne's Utopia:
*The first one states that Anne used her diary, her dreams and concerns for after the war, and her secret-annex to create a Utopia.
*The other is that it is believed that Anne lived in a nightmare and that it is incorrect to sugar-coat it.
*2 utopias

What are your opinions???

Shield from
Charlotte Salomon: The Day of "Machtübernahme"
"He who has courage will and faith will never perish in misery"(171)
"Ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to meet the horrible truth and be shattered. It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all of my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.
I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of , misery, and death, I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again. In the meantime, I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out!"(263-4)

"What makes something utopian is not just a quality of otherness, but the element of transformation, requiring continuity and conectedness to the present. And the transformation... is a willed transformation, not one which comes about by technological change or the alteration of external circumstances"(quoted in Levitas 124)
"Mummy['s]... counsel hen one feels melancholy is : 'Think of all the misery in the world and be thankful that you are not sharing in it.' My advice is:'... think of all of the beauty that's still left in and around you and be happy! I don't see how Mummy's id can be right, because then how are you supposed to behave if you go through the misery yourself? Then you are lost. On the contrary, I've found that there is always beauty lef, if you only look for it...."(171)
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