In Other Words
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
National Best Seller
From the best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize winner, a powerful nonfiction debut—an “honest, engaging, and very moving account of a writer searching for herself in words.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
In Other Words is a revelation. It 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. Although Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterward, true mastery always eluded her.
Seeking full immersion, she decides to move to Rome with her family, for “a trial by fire, a sort of baptism” into a new language and world. There, she begins to read, and to write—initially in her journal—solely in Italian. In Other Words, an autobiographical work written in Italian, investigates the process of learning to express oneself in another language, and describes the journey of a writer seeking a new voice.
Presented in a dual-language format, this is a wholly original book about exile, linguistic and otherwise, written with an intensity and clarity not seen since Vladimir Nabokov: a startling act of self-reflection and a provocative exploration of belonging and reinvention.
feel slightly uneasy, as if I’d forgotten my toothbrush or a change of socks. By now this small dictionary seems more like a brother than like a parent. And yet it’s still useful to me, it still guides me. It remains full of secrets. This little book will always be bigger than I am. LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT In 1994, my sister and I decide to give ourselves a trip to Italy as a present, and we choose Florence. I’m in Boston, studying Renaissance architecture: Brunelleschi’s Pazzi Chapel, the
the writers in the world do, along with those who are involved with writing: they are trying to find the right word, to choose, finally, the one that is most exact, most incisive. It’s a process of sifting, which is exhausting and, at times, exasperating. Writers can’t avoid it. The heart of the craft lies there. Pavese’s letters reveal a powerful, intimate knowledge of his own language. As a writer I aim at doing what he does, but I can do it only in English. I can’t dive into Italian to the
translation, the effort implicit in the writing. I intuit the linguistic mask in which she, like me, finds herself constrained and at the same time free. Knowing her work, I feel reassured, less alone. I think I’ve met a guide, maybe even a companion, on this path. And yet there remains a fundamental difference between her and me. Ágota Kristóf was forced to abandon Hungarian. She wrote in French because she wanted to be read. “It became a necessity,” the author explains. She regretted not being
appena una manciata di parole. La maggior parte sparisce. Evaporano nell’aria, colano come l’acqua tra le dita. Perché il cestino non è altro che la memoria, e la memoria mi tradisce, la memoria non regge. Sento un legame con ogni parola che raccolgo. Provo affetto, insieme a un senso di responsabilità. Quando non riesco a ricordarle, temo di averle abbandonate. Mi sento svuotata, abbattuta, come ci si sente la mattina dopo un sogno favoloso. Il bosco sembra un paradiso, un’allucinazione. Poi
a tutti, oppure a nessuno, da nessuna parte. —ROMA, DICEMBRE 2014 RINGRAZIAMENTI Ogni libro mi sembra un traguardo irraggiungibile finché non è ultimato, ma questo più di ogni altro. Non ce l’avrei fatta senza l’appoggio e l’attenzione di: Sara Antonelli, Luigi Brioschi, Raffaella De Angelis, Angelo De Gennaro, Giovanni De Mauro, Michela Gallio, Francesca Marciano, Alberto Notarbartolo e Pierfrancesco Romano. Un ringraziamento particolare a Gabriella Giandelli per le sue illustrazioni delle