Never go back to English and reading this you kind of hope she won t need to Jhumpa Lahiri first ntered the literary fiction scene with her Pulitzer Prize winning Interpreter of Maladies in 2000 A collection of short stories set in India and the United States Maladies tugged at the reader s heartstrings Since Maladies Lahiri has gone on to write three full length novels Yet while grappling whether to set her stories in the United States or India Lahiri set off to learn an additional language Italian In Other Words written ntirely in Italian while living in Italy is Lahiri s first work of nonfiction Growing up the daughter of immigrant parents Lahiri s first language was Bengali Hearing this language xclusively until she started school Lahiri refers to Bengali as her mother tongue Bill Veeck's Crosstown Classic (Chicago Shorts) even though she never writes in it Uponntering school she grew aware that her classmates and their parents only read wrote and spoke English and Lahiri grew conscious of the fact that her parents were different As soon as she mastered English Lahiri shed Bengali in all facets of her life other than her home Yet being her mother tongue she can not fully abandon it At age twenty five while working on a PhD in seventeenth century English Lahiri decided to learn a third language Italian She began a twenty year journey where she set out to speak Italian as well as her two parent languages Even after being recognized as a successful English language writer Lahiri desired the challenge of immersing herself in Italian Following the publication of her most recent novel she packed up her family and moved from New York to Rome I give Lahiri much credit for moving to another country voluntarily As someone who has learned new languages as both a child and an adult I know first hand how difficult it can be to learn a new language system while already set in one s ways Yet Lahiri lived in Rome for three years With the aid of a dictionary notebook and a network of peers she transitioned to reading and writing Antarctica exclusively in Italian In Other Words is a collection of her diaryntries about her relationship with the Italian language and written in Italian The first readers of this book were Italian speakers allowing a new group of people to read Lahiri s outstanding prose The English version of this work is actually bilingual side by side in English and Italian Lahiri did not translate the book herself because of her desire for her words to remain in Italian rather than English Following the publication of this work Lahiri and her family returned to New York She is unsure of the language her next book will be written in just as she is unsure how she will maintain her Italian now that she lives out of the country Regardless of the language of her forthcoming books Lahiri is a gifted writer one of the outstanding novelists of this generation The fact that she went outside of her comfort zone only adds to her brilliance as an author A short work of nonfiction I rate In Other Words 4 stars only because I wished it could have been longer so I could have spent all the time with Jhumpa Lahiri s prose The most interesting character in Jhumpa Lahiri s The Namesake is a young woman whose parents Beyond the Laboratory: Scientists as Political Activists in 1930s America emigrated to Boston from Bengal She speaks two languages English and Bengali and when she decides to study a third at university she chooses French Moushumi we are told in the novel approached French unlike American or Indian without guilt or misgiving orxpectation of any kind It was asier to turn her back on the two countries that could claim her in favour of one that had no claim whatsoever In Other Words xpands on that idea Jhumpa Lahiri s mother tongue is Bengali but English is the one she learned to read and write in so her mother tongue slipped into second position and Cartesian Questions: Method and Metaphysics eventually because of her difficulties in reading and writing in it it became a foreign language Lahiri therefore feels herself to be a writer who doesn t belong to any languageShe associates the notion of not belonging to any language to not belonging to any placeither Those who don t belong to any specific place can t in fact return anywhere The concepts of xile and return imply a point of origin a homeland Without a homeland and without a true mother tongue I wander the world ven at my desk In the nd I realize that it wasn t a true xile far from it I am xiled ven from the definition of The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order, 1930-1980 exileOne of the solutions Lahiri has found to her problem of not belonging is to devote herself like her character Moushumi to acuiring a third language and a new adoptive home one that she had no historical links with whatsoever one that is not in her blood or bones She chose Italian and Italy After a number of years spent trying to master Italian from a distance she moved her family to Rome to immerse herself totally in the language and culture Not willing to make any compromises in her project she decided to read and write only in Italian for the duration of her time there In Other Words is or less based on the diaries she kept in Italian during that two year period I can only admire her courage and persistenceWriter friends advised her against such a radical undertaking pointing out that a writer should never abandon his or her dominant language for one that is known only superficially and claiming that the disadvantages would serve neither writer nor reader Lahiri ignored all the advice and cut herself off completely from her former vocation as a writer of novels and stories in English Sheven refused to translate In Other Words into English when this parallel text was being prepared for publication Her justification for that decision was the fear of her own translation devouring dismantling the original text The choice of words here suggest an image of English as a powerful predator and Italian as the delicate prey the writer is trying to protect She doesn t use the words predator or prey but her text is nevertheless full of images and metaphors of a similar nature English and Italian are brothers for xample the older always trying to dominate the younger Mastering a new language is like swimming across a lake
instead of going around by the shore Compiling lists of becomes gathering words in the woods of going around by the shore Compiling lists of vocabulary gathering words in the woods learning process is compared to climbing a mountain or to being a soldier crossing a desert with a tiny packThe constant stating of verything in terms of metaphor makes the book a little tiresome for the reader at times However it is clear that because of the author s limited Italian specially in the arly chapters those metaphors helped her xplain complex ideas in simple language She also relied a lot on repetition to get her message across I lost count of how many times she xplained her project and restated the difficulties of perfecting a foreign language So che non possibile conoscere una lingua stranieri alla perfezioneBut because she repeats herself a lot this parallel text is perfect for beginners in Italian Curators of the Buddha especially since she uses a relatively small number of words and phrases which we meet again and again so reinforcing their meaning Another advantage for the beginner is that the thoughts shexpresses are often ones we ve had ourselves so they are Another Way Home: The Tangled Roots of Race in One Chicago Family easy to recognise We know when she begins a thought wherexactly she is going with it and where she
will nd upend up the first few chapters I was reading only the Italian and using the English to double check from time to time Later when she learned to use past tenses and laborate constructions it got difficult for me to follow but still I managed However when she uoted passages from Italian writers I was lost completely any notion that reading this book in Italian might make me ready to read Italian literature in the original was knocked firmly on the head I think I need to spend two years in Rome When I finished this book I immediately wondered if Jhumpa Lahiri s next novel would be in ItalianWhat a funny idea to come up with a full book solely You Owe Me One engaged with her reasoning for wanting to learn Italian and herxperiences while doing it Granted wanting to learn Italian on my part is why I decided to read it The bilingual set up view spoiler Although in the Democratic Art: The New Deal's Influence on American Culture electronic format the facing pages of the printeddition are replaced by the two versions presented consecutively hide spoiler Where was the romance in learning a new language I didn t think I d be asking this uestion constantly while reading In Other Words and as much as I love Jhumpa Lahiri and her past works this was a sorely disappointing boreSo talk about talking in circles In Other Words felt like the same point presented in various ways ways in which Lahiri flexed and improved upon her Italian fluency Maybe it reads better in that language than English and was lost in translation or maybe the very subtle differences in her musings were lost on me but it felt like I was being fed metaphor after analogy analogy after metaphor that served to drill the point of learning a language is difficult It can be isolating and discombobulating there s joy to be had but it first reuires a lot of Obsession: An Erotic Tale effort and desire from you I don t disagree with any of this but boy was it tedious to read about it in a tone that was too flatJhumpa Lahiri I really admire and respect you for writing in another language andven choosing not to translate it yourself But why oh why In other words sorry words can t Confederate Cities: The Urban South during the Civil War Era expressnough how dismayed I am by thi. Ian investigates the process of learning to Convents and the Body Politic in Late Renaissance Venice express oneself in another language and describes the journey of a writer seeking a new voice Presented in a dual language format it is a book aboutxile linguistic and otherwise written with an intensity and clarity not seen since Nabokov A startling act of self reflection and a provocative xploration of belonging and reinventio.
Jhumpa Lahiri Ù 7 Free readHoly cow snoopy lupi fluky I had no idea what Lahiri was up to since reading Lowland having just finished it days ago A bombshell just dropped from the heavens The writing is gorgeous and intimate I m incredibly inspireda little sad yet I m not sure who I m sad for Mostly Jhumpa Lahiri rocked my boat razzle dazzled me Jhumpa Lahiri literally turned her life upside down inside outtaking her family with her This is a woman who is not afraid to feel fear She takes risksputs herself in uncomfortable situations time and time again Lahiri believesthat what can change our life is always outside of us This line stayed with me throughout the ntire novel She continues to demonstrate by Upgrade Soul example by the choices she makes and the way she lives her life From an author who has written some of the best short stories anyone wouldver want to read and a novel which became a movie in the theaters A Pulitzer Prize winnerLahiri surprised the hell out of me with this powerful memoir AMAZING gustoMany insights about language and living Thank You Knopf Doubleday Publishing Netgalley and Jhumpa Lahiri In Other Words Jhumpa Lahiri was born Nilanjana Sudeshna to Bengali Indian immigrants in London she and her family moved to the United States when she was three years old Here was a woman a translator who wanted to be another person There was no precise reason It had always been that way She considered herself imperfect like the first draft of a book She wanted to produce another version of herself in the same way that she could transform a text from one language into another From The Exchange the first story Lahiri wrote in ItalianLiterature has always struck me as the most galitarian of all the arts Language and words the raw material used by writers to create and deliver their craft are ually available to anyoneSo when a critically acclaimed accomplished author who has mastered the English language decides to turn her career around and chooses to start writing in a whole new language this decision understandably gets the attention of the critics and the public at large When I first heard that Jhumpa Lahiri had chosen to put her writing career on hold in order to pursue her long term passion for the Italian language my initial reaction was similar to the one many sports fans had when Michael Jordan decided to come out of retirement to follow his dream of becoming a professional baseball player namely admiration perplexity and a tinge of curiosityWhy would a wildly succesful author Pulitzer PrizePen Award winner awarded with the 2014 National Humanities Medal take such a leap of faithThe answers to this uestion are complex and profound and after reading this short but very poignant memoir my sense is that Lahiri herself doesn t necessarily have definite answersOther reviewers have accurately described In Other Words as Lahiri s love letter to the Italian language as she describes it I don t have a real need to know this language I don t live in Italy I don t have Italian friends I have only the desire Yet ultimately a desire is nothing but a crazy need As in many passionate relationships my infatuation will become a devotion an obsession There will always be something unbalanced unreuited I m in love but what I love remains indifferent The language will never need me As a daughter of Indian Immigrants who grew up speaking both Bengali and English Italian is Lahiri s third languageSelf doubt the search of identity and a foreboding sense of understanding many cultures but not completely fitting or belonging to any of them is at the center of this beautiful deeply introspective memoir Twenty years Elizabeth I: Translations, 1544-1589 earlier as a college student Lahiri had visited Italy felt in love with the language and upon returning to Boston wrote her doctoral theses on how Italian architecture influenced 17th century English playwrights Deciding to jumped into this affair with both feet she then hired a teacher and started the painstakingly slow and difficult process of learning a new language I felt a deep sense of connection andmpathy with the author and how aptly she was able to describe the sense of wonder one can Dolphin Confidential: Confessions of a Field Biologist experience when learning a new language a process that can be rewarding andnlightening but also intellectually xhausting Contrary to Lahiri I did not volunteer to learn a language in my case English as my second language I was forced to do so out my need to survive and assimilate into a new country and culture but I found many parallels between her xperiences and mine I remembered reading my first books in English in the loyal company of my English to Spanish dictionary unable to read than a few sentences at a time before having to stop to look up the meaning of a new word idiom or xpressionAlthough English is not a Romance language like are French Portuguese Italian or Spanish over 60% of all English words have Greek or Latin roots So for someone that speaks one of these languages the similarities between them can at once facilitate the learning process but also hinder it and make it complicatedI can recall than a few mbarrassing moments when I used Homographs words that have similar Latin roots but have very different meanings A few Imaginary Runner examples molest molestar Spanish meaning to bother someonerealize realizar Spanish meaning to performcontest contestar Spanish meaning to answer In 2014 President Obama granted Lahiri the National Humanities MedalBut mastering a language goes well beyond the mere collection and memorization of wordsspecially if your intention is not only to learn it for basic communication purposes as it was in my case but to actually try replicating your very successful writing career to that new tongue Like Lahiri I took classes to improve my grammar and pronunciation and imposed an English only policy to my reading and media consumption I however had the advantage of living in the United States where English was spoken and written all around me that was not the case for the author Italian is a language spoken by very few people in the world so if you want to learn that language there s pretty much only one place where to goRecognizing that reality the author mbarked in what she calls her linguistic pilgrimage and in 2012 along with her husband and two young children moved to Italy
to follow that dreamDuring the two years she lived there she chronicled in very intimate terms her struggles tofollow that dreamDuring the two years she lived there she chronicled in very intimate terms her struggles to absorb her adopted language the fears and insecurities she xperienced but also recognized how this Fresh Water experiment gave her the freedom to be imperfect Why as an adult as a writer am I interested in this new relationship with imperfection What does it offer me I would say a stunning clarity a profound self awareness Imperfection inspires invention imagination creativity It stimulates The I feel imperfect the I feel alive I felt that Lahiri so accurately validated my ownxperience when she asserts I believe that reading in a foreign language is the most intimate way of readingShe continues When I read in Italian I m a active reader involved French Daguerreotypes even if less skilled I like theffort I prefer the limitations I know that in some way my ignorance is useful to me I realize that in spite of my limitations the horizon is boundless Reading in another language implies a perpetual state of growth of possibility In Other Words Lahiri s account of her uest to master the Italian language struck me at times as a little bit redundant and overly dramatic but as a whole I truly njoyed this introspective thoughtful meditation on the central role language plays in our lives and most importantly in the lives of writers At age 49 Lahiri sounds to me like a writer in transition a woman looking for answers that can t stand still because she is trying to figure out the next chapter in her writing careerOn a final note I listened to the audiobook version of this book which Lahiri reads herself Although her narration is a little bit flat and lacks intensity in her delivery "i ve come to appreciate memoirs that are "ve come to appreciate memoirs that are by the authors because ultimately they are probably better at xpressing their own thoughts Also and I say this as someone who doesn t speak Italian her reading in that language sounded lovely to my untrained ars lingua come una marea ora un inondazione ora bassa inaccessibileThere are two writers whose stories are similar to stories I d aspire to write Jhumpa Lahiri and Chimamanda Adichie They write about the immigrant xperience of characters who have overcome obstacles of those who strive to simply find some soup on of success in foreign lands Writers like Lahiri reveal the immigrant s challenges and successes with assimilation in new cultures So of course it was a delight to read the autobiographical account of her own challenges in Rome Italy as she tries to write and speak a new language Just as a word can have many dimensions many nuances great complexity so too can a person a life Language is the mirror the principal metaphor Because ultimately the meaning of a word like that of a person is boundless ineffable Lahiri did not live in the Calcutta she writes about in her fiction and Doris Salcedo even though some insist her stories are nonfictional shexplains that she is a woman who has created stories and characters from her imagination though using the homeland of her parents In this memoir the reader finally gets a glimpse of the woman behind the desk the writer who seeks herself in books and language There is From the Pulitzer Prize winner a surprising powerful and louent nonfiction debutIn Other Words is at heart a love story of a long and sometimes difficult courtship and a passion that verges on obsession that of a writer for another language For Jhumpa Lahiri that love was for Italian which first captivated and capsized her during a trip to Florence after college And althoug. ,
Omething xhilarating about languages and cultures and this contemplative memoir mphasizes this while also showcases a woman s struggle with identity and search for homeland Without a homeland and without a true mother tongue I wander the world ven at my desk In the Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter's Eye end I realize that it wasn t a truexile far from it I am Grand Illusion: The Third Reich, the Paris Exposition, and the Cultural Seduction of France exiledven from the definition of xile Why would someone live in a country for a year sense a language study the language for over a decade And why would an American writer choose to write a book in Italian More importantly why would a fiction writer decide to mbrace the world of nonfiction These are the uestions I had as I read this memoir for Lahiri s reflections certainly resonate with this immigrant reader who has also considered finding placement through language Although in some instances one senses the hesitations of the novice nonfiction writer afraid to unmask privacy this memoir about possibility and triumph about the writing craft and language discovery is written in the same gorgeous simple layered style that comprise Lahiri s oeuvre Now onto my fourth read of hers The Namesake In Altre Parole In other words Jhumpa LahiriFrom the Pulitzer Prize winner a surprising powerful and louent non fiction debut In Other Words is at heart a love story of a long and sometimes difficult courtship and a passion that verges on obsession that of a writer for another language For Jhumpa Lahiri that love was for Italian which first captivated and capsized her during a trip to Florence after college And although Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterward true mastery had always luded her So in 2012 seeking full immersion she decided to move to Rome with her family for a trial by fire a sort of baptism into a new language and world 2016 1395 140 9789642092727 21 1395 160 9786008211082 1395 99 9786002296764 I realize that the wish to write in a new language derives from a kind of desperation I feel tormented just like Verga s songbird Like her I wish for something Hard Bread (Phoenix Poets else something that I probably shouldn t wish for But I think that the need to write always comes from desperation along with hope Jhumpa LahiriTwenty one summers ago I was finishing up one graduate degree in International Affairs and preparing to start a second one in Linguistics moving from an inuiry into theffects women s levels of Electromyography for Experimentalists education in the developing world had on household income birth rates and infant mortality into anxamination of how language affects our creativity I intended to pursue a PhD in Linguistics and was mulling over a dissertation on Forgetful of Their Sex: Female Sanctity and Society, ca. 500-1100 expatriate writers in France who wrote in their adopted language I planned toxplore how writing in French had changed their approach the language of their stories how this second or some cases third or fourth language influenced the content and rhythm and xpression of their thoughts Then I was offered a job a great job in my first field I pondered the inherent financial and professional insecurities of a life in academe and I turned from the PhD path away from Linguistics Oh the irony as twenty years later I try to make a living as a writer having turned from the path of financial and professional security and stability because it wasn t a life authentic to me If someday I achieve a measure of commercial success I will relocate lock stock and barrel to France where I can immerse wholesale into a language and culture that fills and sustains my heart and intellect Along comes Jhumpa Lahiri with In Other Words a luminous meditation on how immersion in another language changes a writer s soul In this vocative and arnest collection of brief ssays on learning to Wicked Loving Lies express herself in Italian Lahiri touches onverything I felt to be true or what I have La heredera del mar experienced withual intensity living in France and living in the French language the daily intoxication and despair the loss and discovery of self the intimacy and strangement that come with linguistic and cultural displacement This is not a book on what it s like to live in Italy It is not a travelogue a glimpse into a place any of us fortunate nough to have traveled there or who dream of going can mine for memories or tips It could be set in Poland or Peru This is a memoir of the mind of a writer who finds herself humbled by language Lahiri writes of her first xperiences crafting a story in Italian I ve never tried to do anything this demanding as a writer I find that my project is so arduous that it seems sadistic I have to start again from the beginning as if I had never written anything in my life But to be precise I am not at the starting point rather I m in another dimension where I have no references no armor Where I ve never felt so stupid I am reminded as I savor these hesitant glorious ssays that my instincts two decades ago were right Even then so many years before I began writing I understood the metamorphic potential that profound ngagement with another language held for a writer In Other Words has given me reason to take up that dream again this time not at a scholarly remove xamining other writers lives and work but as a way to nhance my own Jhumpa Lahiri won a shedload of prizes and acclaim for her first three books but in 2012 after writing The Lowland she took a strange and drastic decision to abandon the English language altogether And this was not a case of returning to a smaller authentic first language like Ng g wa Thiong o s rejection of English in favour of Kikuyu no Lahiri decided henceforth to immerse herself as reader and writer in Italian a language of which she was no than a studentSo complete was this rinuncia ufficiale this official renunciation that she would not ven consent to do the English translation of this book which she wrote in Italian wishing she says to protect her new language from any contamination or inferiority complex that might arise from suddenly being able to flex her muscles in a familiar idiom Instead Ann Goldstein Elena Ferrante s translator has rendered Lahiri s careful clear Italian into a similarly clean English with the two languages presented on facing pagesI ll say straight off that I think Lahiri is crazy but it s the kind of crazy you can only salute in admiration And she writes very well about the allure of a foreign language the way that acuiring fluency can become an all consuming passion the Xenophon And His World (Historia Einzelschriften) endless wordlists so carefully put together from conversational faux pas and misunderstood newspaper headlines studied and forgotten in a hundred notebooks so that yound up adding the same piece of vocabulary two or times without ver remembering it I don t think my project is a waste of time she says zealously
I Know That Its Beautyknow that its beauty in the act of gathering not in the result As someone who does this xercise regularly today I looked up geeignet for what my notebook tells me is the third time I would certainly like to believe this And few who try to immerse themselves in a foreign language will fail to recognise Lahiri s struggle to get a grip on her Groove: An Aesthetic of Measured Time extensive butccentric vocabulary I feel as if I were dressed in an outlandish manner she says wearing a long One Wild Weekend elegant skirt of anotherra a T shirt a straw hat and slippers She s also very perceptive on the way that reading literature in a foreign language forces you into a particular kind of close reading which can feel incredibly productive and intimateWhen I read in Italian I m a active reader involved Forgetful of Their Sex even if less skilled I like theffort I prefer the limitations I know that in some way my ignorance is useful to meIt may well be useful to her as a reader but the uestion is whether it s useful to her as a writer Immersing yourself in learning a language is one thing turning your back on the language of your profession is something lse Lahiri clearly feels that writing in Italian is a discipline which helps her familiarise herself with the language which is surely truebut what do her readers get out of itA couple of short stories inserted in the narrative here suggest that the answer may be not a huge amount though it seems very ungenerous to say so One would like her to succeed and in say so One would like her to succeed and in abstract sense the benefits of this techniue are already stablished think of Beckett writing in French to avoid having a style as he said or Nabokov who switched to English with the opposite result generating about the most ferocious style in English lettersMaybe Lahiri
will reach thisreach this too but at the moment she s in a curious no man s land as F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby evidenced by her afterword which reveals that the Italian text of this book was revised first by her Italian teacher then by two Italian writer friends of hers and fourthly by theditor of the magazine in which the Walled (The Line, essays first appeared Having left English behind but not yet secure on Italian shores Lahiri is she says notven an Cruel Attachments: The Ritual Rehab of Child Molesters in Germany exile Sonosiliata perfino dalla definizione di silio I am xiled ven from the definition of xile Clearly confining herself to Italian is hugely creatively inspiring for her right now But whatever happens with her fiction this particular kind of book which reflects on the status of language and translation and how personality and style intersect with these is the perfect text to be written in a not uite fluent language and to be read in translation The form matches the function I wish of these books Tempting Fate existed and I m delighted that Jhumpa Lahiri has written such a movingxample of one She says she might. H Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterward true mastery had always luded her So in 2012 seeking full immersion she decided to move to Rome with her family for “a trial by fire a sort of baptism” into a new language and world In Rome Lahiri began to read and to write initially in her journal solely in Italian In Other Words an autobiographical work written in Ital. ,