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?
We are constantly trying to force the world to look like us — we need to move on.
- When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, many Americans jumped for joy. At the time, some believed there weren't going to be any more political disagreements anywhere in the world. They thought American democracy had won the "war of ideas."
- American exceptionalism has sought to create a world order that's really a mirror image of ourselves — a liberal world order founded on the DNA of American thinking. To many abroad this looks like ethnic chauvinism.
- We need to move on from this way of thinking, and consider that sometimes "problem-solving," in global affairs, means the world makes us look like how it wants to be.
Scientists make an important discovery for the future of computing.
- Researchers find a new state of matter called "topological superconductivity".
- The state can lead to important advancements in quantum computing.
- Utilizing special particles that emerge during this state can lead to error-free data storage and blazing calculation speed.
French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
- The French government initially invested in a rural solar roadway in 2016.
- French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
- Solar panel "paved" roadways are proving to be inefficient and too expensive.