The Genius of Language: Fifteen Writers Reflect on Their Mother Tongues

Tác giả: Wendy Lesser

Thể loại: Nonfiction

230.000 VND
  • Item Weight : 15.2 ounces
  • Hardcover : 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0375422382
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0375422386
  • Product Dimensions : 5.88 x 0.86 x 8.52 inches
  • Publisher : Pantheon; 1st Edition (July 27, 2004)

A collection of original essays reflects on their writers' formative experiences of language and culture, from Bharati Mukherjee's appreciation of the Bangla language after the Hindu-Muslim riots of 1946, to Amy Tan's frustration with comparisons between English and Chinese, to Josef Skvorecký's decision to learn English so he could write a fan letter. 25,000 first printing.

 

The 15 writers gathered in this often delightful collection consider the impact their bilingualism has had on the development of their craft: they would all agree with Luc Sante, who writes of his inexorable "internal foreignness." All the writers argue that, in some sense, it was precisely that feeling of displacement, of not quite fitting into the surrounding environment, that made them writers at all. For Sante, as for others, foreignness is both a curse and a blessing, and French—his mother tongue—becomes both the barrier to his perfect assimilation into his new American surroundings and a treasured secret, a sanctuary of words. The experience of exile from linguistic security simultaneously allowed the contributors the freedom of unencumbered expression. In a book that asks its contributors—among them Amy Tan, Josef Skvorecký and Ariel Dorfman—to look back at their formative years, it becomes almost inevitable that the essays will indulge in more than a little nostalgia, even when the youth depicted would not seem to provide fodder for fond remembrance. The essays often follow a narrative long familiar to Americans: from the linguistic and cultural security of the family to the attempt at assimilation into the (mostly) American environment through the rejection of the older tongue, to a belated appreciation for the traditions and expressions of old. Despite the somewhat predictable plot line, these writers, gathered by the founding editor of Threepenny Review, vividly recount the process that anyone who loves words goes through: the process of falling under the spell of language's seemingly infinite potential.
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Adult/High School - Luc Sante arrived from Belgium in the U.S. as a small boy, learned English, but kept his childhood French because of, among other things, his continuing access to comic books. M. J. Fitzgerald was born to American parents living abroad; the children in the family learned to understand their parents' spoken English but their own lives, and childhood literacy, happened in Italian. Ariel Dorfman's life, from infancy, has wavered back and forth from Spanish to English to Spanish to English again. These and the dozen other writers (Amy Tan, Bharati Mukherjee, Thomas Lacquer) who contributed to this collection share a past in a language other than English as the underpinning to an adult career as an English-language author. Arranged in the alphabetical order of their first languages, this anthology includes 20th-century writers from every continent except Australia. Scenes of childhood and adolescence are heavily and engagingly featured, as are cultural confusions and immigrant-family tensions. Each piece is strong and polished, making the whole a glowing collection. Teens who read, travel, or share aspects of these writers' experiences with learning English will enjoy this book with no pushing; teachers will find it excellent curriculum support material for world literature and expository writing classes. - Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA

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