Jhumpa Lahiri’s “In Other Words” is a beautiful memoir of studying the Italian language! Since I am learning Italian I could relate to many of the things she mentions in the book…
It is almost unbelievable yet true that there were parts of the book where it seemed as if she was talking about my experience of learning the language and not hers! I could feel her sense of helplessness as well as her passion. I could even feel her frustrations and achievements.
In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri is an honest and lyrical confession of her journey, the ups and downs of studying Italian. There were certain passages in the book that resonated with me much more than the others. What I felt in the end was simply a yearning to visit Italy again, to hear the language, to speak it and to understand it better than before.
In Other Words this is what I felt….:
When she talks about learning the language:
“Because in the end to learn a language, to feel connected to it, to have a dialogue, however childlike however imperfect.”
When she talks about Florence:
“I love this trip. I go out of the house leaving behind the rest of my life. Each time it feels like a small flight.”
When she talks about reading in Italian:
“I find that reading in another language is more intimate, we don’t come from the same place, from the same family.”
When she gets restless while learning:
“Often, awake and restless in the middle of the night, I go to the desk to compose some paragraphs in Italian. It is absolutely a secret project.”
When she reads in Italian:
“When I read in Italian, I feel like a guest, a traveller.”
-“Maybe because in Italian I have the freedom to be imperfect”
When she compares Italian to Venice:
-“My writing in Italian is just like a bridge, something constructed, fragile. English flows under my feet”.
When she talks about publishing the book in Italian:
-“In Other Words will now have an identity independent of me. The first readers will be Italians; it will be found, first, in Italian bookstores. In time it will be translated, transformed.”
Thank you, Jhumpa Lahiri for a wonderful memoir. It made me feel so much more connected to Italy and the Italian language. I hope that one day I will pen down a book about my language learning too. Because after all Italian has left me smitten.It is a language that has touched my soul….!
Buy the book here: