Is it possible that the world's most famous diarist wasn't keeping a diary at all? According to author and literary critic Francine Prose, Anne Frank's famous account of life in the annex was less a confessional and more of a heavily edited, conscious work of literature. We sat down with the author and critic to discuss her book, Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, in which she explores the surprisingly complex back story of how the diary came to be the staple of high school classes and YA reading lists that it is today.
Our conversation about Anne Frank got us on the topic of the literary canon as a whole, and whether Great Books are still relevant today. Though Prose generated some heated controversy a few years back with her Harper's essay, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Can't Read," in which she criticized certain staples (guess which) of the canon, ultimately she's a devoted reader and lover of the classics. In fact, Prose argues that there's still a lot to be learned about the complexities of modern life—apparently Dickens' had the Bernie Madoff figure dissected before there was a Bernie Madoff.
And speaking of Dickens, the juiciest part of the conversation (at least for this Big Think editor), which sadly came off camera, was Prose's impassioned discussion of The Wire—a show that draws heavy influences from books like Bleak House. Good thing we still read the classics. How else would we understand TV?
The way that you think about stress can actually transform the effect that it has on you – and others.
- Stress is contagious, and the higher up in an organization you are the more your stress will be noticed and felt by others.
- Kelly McGonigal teaches "Reset your mindset to reduce stress" for Big Think Edge.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Three scientists publish a paper proving that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth.
- Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
- Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
- Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
The blood of horseshoe crabs is harvested on a massive scale in order to retrieve a cell critical to medical research. However, recent innovations might make this practice obsolete.
- Horseshoe crabs' blue blood is so valuable that a quart of it can be sold for $15,000.
- This is because it contains a molecule that is crucial to the medical research community.
- Today, however, new innovations have resulted in a synthetic substitute that may end the practice of farming horseshoe crabs for their blood.
The distance between the American dream and reality is expressed best through literature.
- Literature expands our ability to feel empathy and inspires compassion.
- These 10 novels tackle some facet of the American experience.
- The list includes a fictional retelling of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard, and hiding out in inner-city Newark.
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