An other tongue: language and identity in translingual writing
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Abandoning one‟s mother tongue for another language is one of the most profound aspects of exile experience, often fraught with feelings of loss and alienation. Yet the linguistic switch can also be viewed as an advantage: the adopted language becomes a refuge, affording the writer creative distance and perspective. This thesis examines the effects of this switch as reflected in the works of two translingual Jewish authors, Stefan Heym (1913-2001) and Jakov Lind (1927-2007). Both were forced into exile after their lives in Germany and Austria were shattered by the rise of Nazism, and both chose English as a medium of artistic expression at certain periods of their lives. Reading these authors‟ works within their post-war historical context, the thesis argues that translingualism is associated with a psychic split as the self is divided between its languages. This schism manifests itself differently in the writing of each of these authors, according to their distinct perceptions of their identity and place in the world: in Lind‟s work, it is experienced as a schizophrenic existence, and in Heym‟s – as an advantageous doubling of perspective. The first chapter focuses on autobiographical writing in a foreign language, exploring how self and language are bound together in Lind‟s English-language autobiographies. The second chapter draws on Bakhtin‟s notion of dialogism as it considers the relationship between narration, ideology and propaganda in Heym‟s war novel The Crusaders. The third chapter examines Lind‟s and Heym‟s representations of the writer in their fiction, and how their translingualism defines their perception of their own identity and role as writers. The final chapter shows how the two authors reinterpret the figure of the Wandering Jew to construct different visions of a humanistic Jewish identity that correspond to their own diasporic existence.
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