Worlds of Transitive Identities. How Translation Becomes Metonymic in Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation and Herta Müller’s The Land of Green Plums?

Kamal Sbiri

Published Online: 2017-12-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2017-0035

Abstract

In studying certain autobiographical narratives of forced migration and exile, the experience of being caught between two worlds is always emphasized. The forced migrant narrative provides different pictures of the journey from homeland to borderland, and highlights on the ruptures that identity undergoes, especially when the migrant seeks to link the pain of identity construction at a liminal phase. The experience of being lost is understood as a double movement, where in either case, identity loses its originality. Both the forced immigrant and her/his native speaker counterpart seem to exercise similar roles of translation, that is to understand and be understood. In my study of two contemporary autobiographical narratives of forced migrants, I would like to investigate how translation can help in conflating ruptures and identity construction in a transnational context. By leaning on Stephen Clingman’s theory on transnational fiction and Said’s contrapuntal analysis, I seek to emphasize the transitive elements that reside in the immigrant’s psyche. Based on this assumption, I seek to argue that both navigation within the self and recognition of displacement as an experience of mobility encourage the forced immigrant to realize her singularity as transnational.

Keywords: autobiographytransnationalismtranslationmetonymyforced migrationmobility


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