by Philip Roth
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But that was the point—that was what gave her diary the power to make the nightmare real. To expect the great callous and indifferent world to care about the child of a pious, bearded father living under the sway of the rabbis and the rituals—that was pure folly. To the ordinary person with no great gift for tolerating even the smallest of differences the plight of that family wouldn’t mean a thing. To ordinary people it probably would seem that they had invited disaster by stubbornly repudiating everything modern and European—not to say Christian. But the family of Otto Frank, that would be another matter! How could even the most obtuse of the ordinary ignore what had been done to the Jews just for being Jews, how could even the most benighted of the Gentiles fail to get the idea when they read Het Achterhuis that once a year the Franks sang a harmless chanukah song, said some Hebrew words, lighted some candles, exchanged some presents—a ceremony lasting about ten minutes—and that was all it took to make them the enemy.
•As for developing into a writer—she owed that not to any decision to sit down each day and try to be one but to their stifling life. That, of all things, seemed to have nurtured her talent! Truly, without the terror and the claustrophobia of the achterhuis, as a chatterbox surrounded by friends and rollicking with laughter, free to come and go, free to clown around, free to pursue her every last expectation, would she ever have written sentences so deft and so witty?
•And this, I realized, is the excrutiating scrupulosity, the same maddening, meticulous attention to every last detail that makes you great, that keeps you going and got you through and now is dragging you down. Standing with E. I. Lonoff over the disobedient arm of his record player, I understood the celebrated phenomenon for the first time: a man, his destiny, and his work—all one. What a terrible triumph!