I have been on a quest to learn to speak Italian for more years than I care to say. I have tried various methods – tutoring, adult education, on line learning, etc. but have always seemed to come up short. When we travel to Italy I even switch out the ‘chip’ in my U.S. cell phone which allows me to have an Italian phone number. However, each time my phone rings I am frozen in fear as the caller speaks fluent Italian and I, on the other hand, sound like a grade school girl.
Like myself, Jhumpa had studied Italian for many years, but true mastery had always eluded her. It was not until she moved to Rome and immersed herself in the lifestyle as well as the language that things changed. Lahiri, who is Bengali by birth immigrated to the U.S. as a young child. She traveled to Florence after college and continued her love affair with Italy and the Italian language upon moving to Rome with her husband and children in 2012.
Initially she to began to write a journal in Italian. This effort became an autobiographical book that challenges Lahiri to write in another language subjecting herself to a metamorphosis as a writer and person to find a new voice in a new language. What makes the book so special for me, aside from her evocative writing, is the unique way it is presented in a dual-language format.
The left page is written in Italian and the right page is translated into English.
“I think an awareness of impossibility is central to the creative impulse. In the face of everything that seems to me unattainable, I marvel. Without a sense of marvel at things, without wonder, one can’t create anything.”
“Credo che una consapevolezza dell’impossibilita’ sia centrale all’impulso creativo. Davanti a tutto ciò’ che mi sembra irraggiungibile, mi meraviglio. Senza un sentimento di meraviglia verso le cose, senza lo stupore, non si può’ create nulla”
As inspirational as it is educational, I think you will find In Other Words a moving account of one woman’s search for herself
in her own words.