Andrea Bergantino

Andrea Bergantino is a PhD candidate in Translation Studies at the Trinity Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation, Dublin. His research focuses on the interplay between literature and translation, literary portrayals of translators and the thematization of translation.

Twitter: @AndBerga

Experiencing Regeneration through Exophony. The Case of Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri’s choice to reject English and use Italian as new literary language has sparked growing interest and debate. In effect, in In altre parole, Lahiri (2015, 70) asserts that the Italian language has given her a “nuova voce” [new voice].The aim of this paper is to show how exophony leads to regeneration in Lahiri’s experience, both at a literary and an existential level.

The starting point of this paper is the analysis of In altre parole, the author’s linguistic autobiography and her first book written directly in Italian. This examination will allow us to retrieve the different ways in which Lahiri portrays exophony, and to understand the motivation behind and her emotional response to translingual practice, highlighting how it is at the same time “spaccatura”[break] and “nascita”[birth] (Lahiri 2015, 57). This creative and biographical metamorphosis triggered by the shift in literary language will then find further confirmation in a brief overview of Lahiri’s most recent works: whereas Italian remains the primary language for literary creation, English is ‘readmitted’ by means of (self-)translation.

In conclusion, this paper will shed light on the controversial nature of exophony in Lahiri’s experience, as it turns out to be both a demanding decision and a necessary one, that marks the beginning of a new phase in the author’s life and creative path.

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