So far, her last Czech translation was published in 2019, by the Triáda publishing house. Its author is Magda de Bruin Hüblová.
You first came across the name Anne Frank as a schoolgirl in the 1970s. Do you remember the moment you reached for the book?
In the sixth grade, I borrowed Anne Frank’s Diary from our local public library, the book was in the “for girls” compartment. I felt that Anna’s fate was special, but it was not a book I would return to. And I appreciated some aspects only as an adult. After many years, when I was already living in Amsterdam, I happened to translate for the Anne Frank House. I established cooperation with the Triáda publishing house, which has been dealing with Anne Frank’s texts for a long time in our country, through my reviews for the iLiteratura.cz portal. So I became a translator of Anne Frank without any effort of my own.
What do you think makes her testimony unique?
And is it so unique? Since 1947, when her diary was published for the first time, many similar testimonies of young victims of the Holocaust have surfaced. Due to circumstances, her diary is the most famous, but I don’t think that should diminish the importance and impact of other ego-documentaries from the time, even if it probably inevitably overshadows them.
You are the author of the last Czech translation of Anne Frank’s diary. How long did you pursue the idea of coming up with the most faithful version?
The approach to the text more like a document than a literary work resulted from the plan of the Triáda publishing house to publish a Complete Edition after the new translation of the diary, which, in addition to the “reader’s” version, also contains faithful transcriptions of the original diaries.
If it was to be clear in Czech how the texts differ from each other, it was necessary to preserve certain peculiarities of the original, which are otherwise usually smoothed over, even in the “reader’s” version. At the same time, my translation captures Anna’s linguistic playfulness, her various jokes and novelties more than the previous ones. It therefore presents a more authentic image of the author. The Triáda publishing house focuses on carefully edited editions, so they welcomed my approach.
Czech readers know the notes from the version published under socialism, from the German translation. In 1992, a translation from Dutch was also published. Why did you translate them from it again?
Because the text is written in Dutch. Or, with your question, are you looking for why a new translation of the diary was created? This was decided by the Triáda publishing house, and it was related to the above-mentioned plan to gradually publish, in addition to the individual edition of the diary, now called Zadní dům, and Anna’s literary attempts, called Póvídky a příhody ze zadní dům, as well as a Collected Edition. Comparing different versions of texts in Czech is only possible if they come from the same translator.
How do the versions available for the Czech reader differ from each other?
An authentic diary, as Anne wrote it day after day, is now available in Czech – it is called version A. In the spring of 1944, Anne began reworking the diary into a “novel about the back house”, referred to as version B. Anne wanted the novel (in contrast from the diary) to publish after the war. The current “reader’s” version of Zadní dům, or version D, was edited in 1991 by the German writer and translator Mirjam Presslerová and is a compilation of both of Anna’s original versions. Versions A, B and D are part of the Combined Edition.
The new series about Anne Frank’s hiding place will also take viewers to Mala Strana
Movies and series
The first Czech translation from 1956 was based on a compilation compiled in 1947 from Anna’s records by her father Otto Frank – it is referred to as version C and is not part of the Collected Edition. At the same time, neither Pressler nor Otto Frank respected Anne’s authorial intention and included in their compilations passages that Anne did not designate for publication.
The book was first published in 1947, already edited. Where did you find the original text of the diary?
Otto Frank bequeathed the diary manuscripts to the Dutch state. After his death, Anna’s written legacy was examined by experts, and in 1986 both the original versions A and B were published in a so-called critical edition. From there, in 2013, they were also included in the Dutch Complete Edition, which I recently translated into Czech. In addition, the manuscripts are accessible at www.annefrankmanuscripten.org. Although they are in Dutch, Czech readers will also appreciate the rich visual documentation containing photos of Anna’s friends, admirers…
The book was named Back House, as Anne herself wanted. Are Czech readers used to it yet?
In Dutch, the newspaper has been published under the name Het Achterhuis (The Back House) since the beginning. Zadní dům Nový překlad Deník is written on the cover of the Czech single edition from 2019. Still, the name sometimes causes trouble. Perhaps also because the term “back tract”, which was used by the first translator Gustav Janouch for “back house”, is still stubbornly stuck here.
She herself thought that she would publish the book after the war. Do you see in it, in addition to unquestionable, historical, documentary value, as well as literary quality?
Anna’s writing skills are particularly evident in how thoughtfully, with regard to the impact of the text, she reworked her diary into a novel. This is not noticeable when reading the Back House, but in the Collected Edition we point it out in the notepad for version B. We offer an insight into Anna’s writing kitchen.
And is a similar tendency, i.e. the most faithful translation of the original diary, a current worldwide trend?
As far as I know, many foreign colleagues are also inclined to this (it is often the third translation elsewhere). Unlike the first translators, we have much more material at our disposal, so we can read more from the text than they did. By the way, they were often translation amateurs, to whom Otto Frank also advised: “Improve where you can.” After all, they are translations, so respect for the original must go aside.” Even translation as such has clearly changed since the 1950s.
What is the relationship of the Dutch/Germans now – Anne was German after all – to the diary? Did she feel more Dutch or German?
It is probably generally true that almost everyone knows Anne Frank, but not everyone has read her diary. Regarding her national feelings, Anne writes: “Nice nation, the Germans, and I actually belong to them too! But no, Hitler made us stateless a long time ago. And in general, there is no greater enmity in the world than between Germans and Jews.’
And later on his relationship with the Netherlands: “Now my first wish after the war is, give me Dutch citizenship! I like the Dutch, I like our country, I like the language and I want to work here. And even if I were to write to the Queen herself, I will not back down until I reach my goal!’
Lesson instead of icons. Ari Folman made a movie about Anne Frank
She became a symbol of the Holocaust. Her face adorns t-shirts, mugs, she has a museum, films are made about her… You have spent decades with her, at work. Did she ever get on your nerves?
Anne Frank is not my favorite author. I devoted myself more consistently to this series of Back House, Short stories and incidents from the back house and the Collected Edition – with breaks for about four years. According to eyewitnesses, Anne could be quite unbearable – people usually preferred her older sister Margot (by the way, she also kept a diary, but it has not been preserved).
But Anne developed a rare self-reflection within herself over time. I have passages in the book that I really don’t like, but the editors put them in there – Anne didn’t want to publish them. At the same time, the end of the diary, three days before the arrest, hits me again and again: “(…) And I keep looking for a way to become what I would so like to be one day and what I could be if… there were no other people in the world. “
You have been translating from Dutch for decades. Who is the real Dutch star for the Czechs?
It already follows from your question that a real Dutch star probably does not exist for the Czechs. After all, there is no real Czech star for the Dutch. My current Dutch star is Anjet Daanje, whose novel I am currently translating with the working title Song of the Stork and the Camel.
Have you ever read a literary diary of a Holocaust victim?
Yes, the Anne Frank one
A total of 0 readers voted.
Leave a Reply