Language, narrative, self, and memory in two language memoirs: Eva Hoffman’s "Lost in Translation" and Ilan Stavans’s "On Borrowed Words"
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autobiographical memory

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Jarczok, A. (2020). Language, narrative, self, and memory in two language memoirs: Eva Hoffman’s "Lost in Translation" and Ilan Stavans’s "On Borrowed Words". Bibliotekarz Podlaski, 47(2), 81-109.


This article focuses on two memoirs authored by a bilingual and a multilingual author – Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation and Ilan Stavans’s On Borrowed Words, respectively – to examine how their authors construct their linguistic selves, what they tell us about living in two (or more) languages, and how the process of recalling their past contributes to the construction of their self and what the role of language is in that process. The first part of the essay shows that language, narrative, memory, and self are mutually dependent and constitutive, and that memory, especially in its individual manifestation, is not given enough attention in autobiographical research. The second part examines how the interplay between these four concepts is captured in the memoirs of Eva Hoffman and Ilan Stavans. Both authors show what it means to be trapped in the space between languages, when one feels that no language adequately captures the events of the everyday life, and how it influences the sense of self and the formation of memories.
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