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My Language Is a Jealous Lover
Date: 30th January, 2023
Publisher: RUTGERS UNIVERSITY PRESS
Many great writers have been fluent in multiple languages but have never been able to escape their mother tongue, which wraps them in a tight embrace and never lets them go. Yet if a native language feels like home, an adopted language sometimes offers a hospitality one cannot find at home. My Language is a Jealous Lover explores the plights and successes of authors, who at different points in history, lived and wrote in languages other than their mother tongue. They include Samuel Beckett, writing in French to find a simplicity and austerity he could not attain in his native English, Vladimir Nabokov, writing masterfully in English but feeling frustrated about the way Russian underpinned and influenced his style, Ágota Kristóf forced to abandon her native Hungarian for political reasons and choosing then to compose her award-winning novels in French, and Joseph Brodsky, living in exile from the Soviet Union but retaining a connection with his homeland by writing poems in Russian. Author Adrián N. Bravi weaves their stories in with his own experiences as an Argentinian-Italian, thinking and writing in both the language of his new life and recalling that of his childhood memories. Discussing everything from creoles to dying languages and from the Tower of Babel to the Sicilian Vespers, Bravi bears witness to the frustrations, the soul-searching, the pain, and the joys of embracing another language, while never escaping the embrace of the mother tongue.