Whanganuilibrary.com
Normal view MARC view ISBD view

In other words / Jhumpa Lahiri ; translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein.

By: Lahiri, Jhumpa [author.].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London : Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016Description: xiv, 233 pages ; 22 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781408866115.Uniform titles: In altre parole. English Subject(s): Lahiri, Jhumpa -- Travel | Lahiri, Jhumpa -- Travel -- Italy | Diaries | East Indian Americans -- Italy -- Anecdotes | Interlanguage (Language learning) | Italian language -- Writing -- Biography | Rome (Italy) -- Social life and customs | Rome (Italy) -- BiographyDDC classification: 858.92 | 813.6
Contents:
Machine generated contents note: The Crossing -- The Dictionary -- Love At First Sight -- Exile -- The Conversations -- The Renunciation -- Reading With A Dictionary -- Gathering Words -- The Diary -- The Story -- The Exchange -- The Fragile Shelter -- Impossibility -- Venice -- The Imperfect -- The Hairy Adolescent -- The Second Exile -- The Wall -- The Triangle -- The Metamorphosis -- Plumbing The Depths -- The Scaffolding -- Half-Light.
Summary: At heart, this is 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.
Tags from this library: No tags from this library for this title. Log in to add tags.
    average rating: 0.0 (0 votes)
Item type Current location Collection Call number Copy number Status Date due
Non-Fiction Davis (Central) Library
Non-Fiction
Non-Fiction 945 LAH 1 Available

Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

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. Although Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterwards, full mastery had always eluded her. So in 2012, seeking full immersion, she decided to uproot herself, her husband and two children, and move to Rome for 'a trial by fire, a sort of baptism' into a new world and way of being.
Over the course of three years, Lahiri read, spoke, wrote - even in her journal - solely in Italian, slowly beginning to feel she could not only communicate in Italian, but fully express herself, even in fiction. In spare and luminous prose, and drawing, too, on Lahiri's parent's own experiences with another culture when they first came to America, I n Other Words explores the often emotionally fraught links between identity and language. It is a book about exile, linguistic and otherwise, written with an intensity and clarity not seen since Nabokov.
A startling act of self-reflection; a powerful exploration of a surprising, life-changing passion; and a provocative, piercingly eloquent book that showcases a remarkable writer's signature gifts, it is her most intimate, revealing and exciting book to date.

Machine generated contents note: The Crossing -- The Dictionary -- Love At First Sight -- Exile -- The Conversations -- The Renunciation -- Reading With A Dictionary -- Gathering Words -- The Diary -- The Story -- The Exchange -- The Fragile Shelter -- Impossibility -- Venice -- The Imperfect -- The Hairy Adolescent -- The Second Exile -- The Wall -- The Triangle -- The Metamorphosis -- Plumbing The Depths -- The Scaffolding -- Half-Light.

At heart, this is 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.

Parallel text in English and Italian. Translated from the Italian.

5 9 11 27 37 76 83 98 130 151

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

THE CROSSING   I want to cross a small lake. It really is small, and yet the other shore seems too far away, beyond my abilities. I'm aware that the lake is very deep in the middle, and even though I know how to swim I'm afraid of being alone in the water, without any support.   The lake I'm talking about is in a secluded, isolated place. To get there you have to walk a short distance, through a silent wood. On the other side you can see a cottage, the only house on the shore. The lake was formed just after the last ice age, millennia ago. The water is clear but dark, heavier than salt water, with no current. Once you're in, a few yards from the shore, you can no longer see the bottom.   In the morning I observe people coming to the lake, as I do. I watch them cross it in a confident, relaxed manner, stop for some minutes in front of the cottage, then return. I count their arm strokes. I envy them.    For a month I swim around the lake, never going too far out. This is a more significant distance--the circumference compared to the diameter. It takes me more than half an hour to make this circle. Yet I'm always close to the shore. I can stop, I can stand up if I'm tired. It's good exercise, but not very exciting.   Then one morning, near the end of the summer, I meet two friends at the lake. I've decided to make the crossing with them, to finally get to the cottage on the other side. I'm tired of just going along the edge.   I count the strokes. I know that my companions are in the water with me, but I know that each of us is alone. After about a hundred and fifty strokes I'm in the middle, the deepest part. I keep going. After a hundred more I see the bottom again.    I arrive on the other side: I've made it with no trouble. I see the cottage, until now distant, just steps from me. I see the small, faraway silhouettes of my husband, my children. They seem unreachable, but I know they're not. After a crossing, the known shore becomes the opposite side: here becomes there. Charged with energy, I cross the lake again. I'm elated.   For twenty years I studied Italian as if I were swimming along the edge of that lake. Always next to my dominant language, English. Always hugging that shore. It was good exercise. Beneficial for the muscles, for the brain, but not very exciting. If you study a foreign language that way, you won't drown. The other language is always there to support you, to save you. But you can't float without the possibility of drowning, of sinking. To know a new language, to immerse yourself, you have to leave the shore. Without a life vest. Without depending on solid ground.   A few weeks after crossing the small hidden lake, I make a second crossing, much longer but not at all difficult. It will be the first true departure of my life. On a ship this time, I cross the Atlantic Ocean, to live in Italy.      THE DICTIONARY   The first Italian book I buy is a pocket dictionary, with the definitions in English. It's 1994, and I'm about to go to Florence for the first time, with my sister. I go to a bookshop in Boston with an Italian name: Rizzoli. A stylish, refined bookshop, which is no longer there.   I don't buy a guidebook, even though it's my first trip to Italy, even though I know nothing about Florence. Thanks to a friend of mine, I already have the address of a hotel. I'm a student, I don't have much money. I think a dictionary is more important.   The one I choose has a green plastic cover, indestructible, impermeable. It's light, smaller than my hand. It has more or less the dimensions of a bar of soap. The back cover says that it contains around forty thousand Italian words.    As we're wandering through the Uffizi, amid galleries that are almost deserted, my sister realizes that she's lost her hat. I open the dictionary. I go to the English-Italian part, to find out how to say "hat" in Italian. In some way, certainly incorrect, I tell a guard that we've lost a hat. Miraculously, he understands what I'm saying, and in a short time the hat is recovered.   Every time I've been to Italy in the many years since, I've brought this dictionary with me. I always put it in my purse. I look up words when I'm in the street, when I return to the hotel after an outing, when I try to read an article in the newspaper. It guides me, protects me, explains everything.   It becomes both a map and a compass, and without it I know I'd be lost. It becomes a kind of authoritative parent, without whom I can't go out. I consider it a sacred text, full of secrets, of revelations.    On the first page, at a certain point, I write:  "provare a = cercare di"  (try to = seek to).   That random fragment, that lexical equation, might be a metaphor for the love I feel for Italian. Something that, in the end, is really a stubborn attempt, a continuous trial.   Nearly twenty years after buying my first dictionary, I decide to move to Rome for an extended stay. Before leaving, I ask a friend of mine, who lived in Rome for many years, if an electronic Italian dictionary, like a cell phone app, would be useful, for looking up a word at any moment.    He laughs. He says, "Soon you'll be living inside an Italian dictionary."   He's right. Slowly, after a couple of months in Rome, I realize that I don't check the dictionary so often. When I go out, it tends to stay in my purse, closed. As a result I start leaving it at home. I'm aware of a turning point. A sense of freedom and, at the same time, of loss. Of having grown up, at least a little.   Today I have many other larger, more substantial dictionaries on my desk. Two of them are monolingual, without a word of English. The cover of the small one seems a little faded by now, a little dirty. The pages are yellowed. Some are coming loose from the binding.    It usually sits on the night table, so that I can easily look up an unknown word while I'm reading. This book allows me to read other books, to open the door of a new language. It accompanies me, even now, when I go on vacation, on trips. It has become a necessity. If, when I leave, I forget to take it with me, I 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 Laurentian Library of Michelangelo. We arrive in Florence at dusk, a few days before Christmas. My first walk is in the dark. I'm in an intimate, sober, joyful place. Shops decorated for the season. Narrow, crowded streets, some more like corridors than like streets. There are tourists like my sister and me, but not many. I see the people who have lived here forever. They walk quickly, indifferent to the buildings. They cross the squares without stopping.   I've come for a week, to see the buildings, to admire the squares, the churches. But from the start my relationship with Italy is as auditory as it is visual. Although there aren't many cars, the city is humming. I'm aware of a sound that I like, of conversations, phrases, words that I hear wherever I go. As if the whole city were a theater in which a slightly restless audience is chatting before the show begins.   I hear the excitement of children wishing each other  buon Natale --merry Christmas--on the street. I hear the tenderness with which, one morning at the hotel, the woman who cleans the room asks me:  Avete dormito bene?  Did you sleep well? When a man behind me on the sidewalk wants to pass, I hear the slight impatience with which he asks:  Permesso?  May I?    I can't answer. I'm not able to have a dialogue. I listen. What I hear, in the shops, in the restaurants, arouses an instantaneous, intense, paradoxical reaction. It's as if Italian were already inside me and, at the same time, completely external. It doesn't seem like a foreign language, although I know it is. It seems strangely familiar. I recognize something, in spite of the fact that I understand almost nothing.   What do I recognize? It's beautiful, certainly, but beauty doesn't enter into it. It seems like a language with which I have to have a relationship. It's like a person met one day by chance, with whom I immediately feel a connection, of whom I feel fond. As if I had known it for years, even though there is still everything to discover. I would be unsatisfied, incomplete, if I didn't learn it. I realize that there is a space inside me to welcome it.   I feel a connection and at the same time a detachment. A closeness and at the same time a distance. What I feel is something physical, inexplicable. It stirs an indiscreet, absurd longing. An exquisite tension. Love at first sight.    I spend the week in Florence very near Dante's house. One day, I visit the small church of Santa Margherita dei Cerchi, where Beatrice's tomb is. The beloved, the poet's inspiration, forever unattainable. An unfulfilled love marked by distance, by silence.   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, unrequited. I'm in love, but what I love remains indifferent. The language will never need me.   At the end of the week, having seen many palazzi, many frescoes, I return to America. I bring with me postcards, little gifts, souvenirs of the trip. And yet the clearest, most vivid memory is something immaterial. When I think of Italy, I hear certain words again, certain phrases. I miss them. And missing them pushes me, slowly, to learn the language. I am impelled by desire and, at the same time, hesitant, timid. I ask of Italian, with a slight impatience:  Permesso ? May I?      EXILE   My relationship with Italian takes place in exile, in a state of separation.   Every language belongs to a specific place. It can migrate, it can spread. But usually it's tied to a geographical territory, a country. Italian belongs mainly to Italy, and I live on another continent, where one does not readily encounter it.   I think of Dante, who waited nine years before speaking to Beatrice. I think of Ovid, exiled from Rome to a remote place. To a linguistic outpost, surrounded by alien sounds.    I think of my mother, who writes poems in Bengali, in America. Almost fifty years after moving there, she can't find a book written in her language.   In a sense I'm used to a kind of linguistic exile. My mother tongue, Bengali, is foreign in America. When you live in a country where your own language is considered foreign, you can feel a continuous sense of estrangement. You speak a secret, unknown language, lacking any correspondence to the environment. An absence that creates a distance within you.   In my case there is another distance, another schism. I don't know Bengali perfectly. I don't know how to read it, or even write it. I have an accent, I speak without authority, and so I've always perceived a disjunction between it and me. As a result I consider my mother tongue, paradoxically, a foreign language, too.    As for Italian, the exile has a different aspect. Almost as soon as we met, Italian and I were separated. My yearning seems foolish. And yet I feel it.   How is it possible to feel exiled from a language that isn't mine? That I don't know? Maybe because I'm a writer who doesn't belong    How is it possible to feel exiled from a language that isn't mine? That I don't know? Maybe because I'm a writer who doesn't belong completely to any language.   I buy a book. It's called  Teach Yourself Italian . An exhortatory title, full of hope and possibility. As if it were possible to learn on your own.    Having studied Latin for many years, I find the first chapters of this textbook fairly easy. I manage to memorize some conjugations, do some exercises. But I don't like the silence, the isolation of the self-teaching process. It seems detached, wrong. As if I were studying a musical instrument without ever playing it.   At the university, I decide to write my doctoral thesis on how Italian architecture influenced English playwrights of the seventeenth century. I wonder why certain playwrights decided to set their tragedies, written in English, in Italian palaces. The thesis will discuss another schism between language and environment. The subject gives me a second reason to study Italian.   I attend elementary courses. My first teacher is a Milanese woman who lives in Boston. I do the homework, I pass the tests. But when, after two years of studying, I try to read Alberto Moravia's novel  La ciociara  ( Two Women ), I barely understand it. I underline almost every word on every page. I am constantly looking in the dictionary.    In the spring of 2000, six years after my trip to Florence, I go to Venice. In addition to the dictionary, I take a notebook, and on the last page I write down phrases that might be useful:  Saprebbe dirmi? Dove si trova? Come si fa per andare?  Could you tell me? Where is? How does one get to? I recall the difference between  buono  and  bello . I feel prepared. In reality, in Venice I'm barely able to ask for directions on the street, a wake-up call at the hotel. I manage to order in a restaurant and exchange a few words with a saleswoman. Nothing else. Even though I've returned to Italy, I still feel exiled from the language. Excerpted from In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Lahiri (creative writing, Princeton Univ.) is internationally renowned for her novels The Namesake and The Lowland, her Pulitzer Prize-winning story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, and other writings. This new memoir, which the author wrote in Italian, is a great surprise. There's a second surprise, too: the English translation, here presented opposite the Italian, on every recto, by Goldstein (a New Yorker editor who has translated Elena Ferrante and Primo Levi, among others). The book is a series of journal entries that meditate upon Lahiri's frustrations and joys while learning Italian, and her growing desire to use that language only. It delves deeply into the author's relationship with languages generally-as the American-raised daughter of Indian immigrants, her Italian experiment is not the first time she's been caught between two linguistic worlds, accepted by neither. Students of other languages will nod in recognition as Lahiri describes her growing hostility toward English, a tongue she begins to find "overbearing, domineering, full of itself." VERDICT This unusual memoir is a must for language learners exploring their motivations; it will also resonate with Lahiri's fans and other literary fiction lovers. [See Prepub Alert, 8/24/15.]-Henrietta Verma, formerly with Library Journal © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

Lahiri, the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist of Interpreter of Maladies, tries her hand at memoir-and audiobook narration-with this brief recounting of her quest to immerse herself in the Italian language. She tells of her initial passion for learning Italian, her third language after Bengali and English, and her decision to move her husband and two children to Rome for the full experience. In the print version of this memoir, which Lahiri wrote in Italian, Lahiri's Italian words and their English translation are side by side on facing pages; here, she narrates the entire memoir in English before doing it all over again in Italian, starting in the third compact disc. In English, Lahiri makes for a quiet and unassuming narrator. Her emotional register feels monochromatic even when she is giving voice to her deepest longings, and the performance falls flat, particularly during the very short pieces of fiction she weaves in: every character sounds the same. Speaking in Italian, however, her voice takes on added depth and fervor. It's not just that her accent is flawless but that Italian allows her access to a more avid, colorful, uninhibited version of herself. This is what she tells listeners during the English chapters that open the book, but the truth of it is not apparent until they hear the story told all over again in the language of her choosing. A Knopf hardcover. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Celebrated short story writer and novelist Lahiri (The Lowland, 2013) presents her first book of nonfiction and first book not written in English. The why and how of this radical change in her literary life is the primary theme in this arresting, intricate, bilingual chronicle of a daring experiment. Lahiri experienced her first linguistic complication as a girl when her family left Calcutta for America, where she spoke Bengali at home and English everywhere else. She fell in enchanted love with Italian as a graduate student and pursued this ardor for years without achieving fluency. So she decided to move to Rome with her husband and young children so that she could live and breathe Italian. Lahiri writes lithely and perceptively about being a linguistic pilgrim and her first attempt to write in Italian: I've never felt so stupid. It is acutely disorienting for a writer to lose her facility with language, which was the jolt and challenge Lahiri felt she needed to take a new artistic approach. Indeed, there is a cadence of discovery in these elegantly turned, metaphor-inlaid essays, while the two short stories Lahiri includes present us with a pared-down, more direct, more universal voice. A richly meditative, revealing, and involving linguistic autobiography about language and the self, creativity, risk, and metamorphosis. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Lahiri's acclaim and popularity ensure avid interest in her first autobiographical book and its tale of creative audacity.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2015 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

In a perfectly titled memoir, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist chronicles her efforts to learn and write Italian. Lahiri (The Lowland, 2013, etc.), who wrote and published her text in Italian in 2015, now presents an English translation (by Goldstein) with Italian and English on facing pages. For Lahiri, Italian was her third languageher mother spoke Bengaliand she relates in engaging detail the reasons she felt drawn to Italian, her many difficulties learning it, her struggles with writing, and her move to Rome to write. As she acknowledges near the end, and suggests elsewhere, her work is thick with metaphor; continually, she tries to find effective comparisons. A swim across a lake, an avalanche, a mountain-climb, a journey, a map, a bridge, maternitythese and numerous others describe her learning and her difficulties. A most affecting later chapter, "The Wall," deals with a discomfort felt (and caused) by many: Lahiri doesn't "look" Italian, so Romans and others treated her oddly, even insultingly, at times. She notes that similar experiences happened in the United States. Even though she's known English since childhoodand has written award-winning novels in the languagesome Americans look at her with a kind of mistrust. Lahiri does not ever get too detailed about the specifics of her learning, although there are paragraphs about vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. She is more interested in the effects of all of this on her writing and on her identity. Her memoir is also chockablock with memorable comments about writing and language. "Why do I write?" she asks. "To investigate the mystery of existence. To tolerate myself. To get closer to everything that is outside of me." At the end, she returns to America but wonders if she will now write again in English. An honest, self-deprecating, and very moving account of a writer searching for herself in words. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.