Still busy with my masters program, with end-of-quarter projects, papers, and exams. I would really like, though, to read from a new book I picked up before my Wednesday night class: the trade paper edition of In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri. I certainly don’t have time to read much, but even a half-hour would be lovely. Anything to get away from all these deadlines.
Jhumpa Lahiri, In Other Words. Click on the above image to order or browse at Amazon.
In Other Words is the story of Lahiri’s relocation to Rome and decision to write exclusively in Italian. It’s a book about immersion, which the author compares to the day she finally found the courage to swim across a small lake near Rome. “To know a new language, to immerse yourself, you have to leave the shore,” Lahiri wrote. “Without a life vest. Without depending on solid ground.”
Other writers, of course, have set themselves similar challenges. Rilke wrote around four hundred poems in French near the end of his life. For some, writing in another language isn’t just a technical challenge: it leads to a new form of expression itself. Lahiri notes:
“To write in a new language, to penetrate its heart, no technology helps. You can’t accelerate the process, you can’t abbreviate it. The pace is slow, hesitant, there are no shortcuts.”
No shortcuts to another degree. No shortcuts to language. No shortcuts to life.