Anne’s Great Act
How a young girl hiding in an attic, writing in her journal, transcended what it means to survive.
Text by Contributing Editor Laurence Gonzales, author of the books Everyday Survival and Deep Survival; Illustration by Marc Yankus
If she had lived, Anne Frank would have turned 80 this June. Hers was an extraordinary act of survival, in which the process of living was far more important than the outcome. Her Diary of a Young Girl, published after her death, reminds us that in some cases survival is not simply a matter of how long you live, but how well you live.
Frank’s birthday is a good time to contemplate what it means, really, to survive.
The word is derived from the Latin supervivere, a combination of super (over) and vivere (to live). While the common translation of supervivere is “to outlive,” Frank’s diary suggests that supervivere means something infinitely richer. Her story describes survival as an act of grace under pressure—super-living, you could call it.
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