In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

By Jhumpa Lahiri

In different phrases is a revelation. it truly is at middle a love story—of a protracted and infrequently tricky courtship, and a fondness that verges on obsession: that of a author for one more language. For Jhumpa Lahiri, that love was once for Italian, which first captivated and capsized her in the course of a visit to Florence after university. even supposing Lahiri studied Italian for a few years later on, actual mastery regularly eluded her.

Seeking complete immersion, she makes a decision to maneuver to Rome along with her kin, for “a trial through fireplace, a type of baptism” right into a new language and global. There, she starts off to learn, and to write—initially in her journal—solely in Italian. In different phrases, an autobiographical paintings written in Italian, investigates the method of studying to precise oneself in one other language, and describes the adventure of a author looking a brand new voice.

Presented in a dual-language structure, this can be a completely unique ebook approximately exile, linguistic and another way, written with an depth and readability no longer visible on the grounds that Vladimir Nabokov: a startling act of self-reflection and a provocative exploration of belonging and reinvention.

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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.

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.

We become friends. My comprehension improves sporadically. The teacher is very encouraging, she says I speak the language well, she says I’ll do fine in Italy. But it’s not true. When I go to Milan, when I try to speak intelligently, fluently, I am always aware of the mistakes that hamper me, that confuse me, and I feel more discouraged than ever. In 2009 I start studying with my third private teacher. A Venetian woman who moved to Brooklyn more than thirty years ago, who brought up her children in America.

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