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Languages of Exile

Migration and Multilingualism in Twentieth-Century Literature


Edited By Axel Englund and Anders Olsson

Languages of Exile examines the relationship between geographic and linguistic border crossings in twentieth-century literature. Like no period before it, the last century was marked by the experience of expatriation, forcing exiled writers to confront the fact of linguistic difference. Literary writing can be read as the site where that confrontation is played out aesthetically – at the intersection between native and acquired language, between indigenous and alien, between self and other – in a complex multilingual dynamic specific to exile and migration.
The essays collected here explore this dynamic from a comparative perspective, addressing the paragons of modernism as well as less frequently studied authors, from Joseph Conrad and Peter Weiss to Agota Kristof and Malika Mokeddem. The essays are international in their approach; they deal with the junctions and gaps between English, French, German, Hungarian, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and other languages. The literary works and practices addressed include modernist poetry and prose, philosophical criticism and autobiography, DADA performance, sound art and experimental music theatre. This volume reveals both the wide range of creative strategies developed in response to the interstitial situation of exile and the crucial role of exile for a renewed understanding of twentieth-century literature.


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The editors would like to thank the foundations of Magnus Bergvall and Åke Wiberg for their generous support, which made the completion of this volume possible; Per Arne Bodin for checking the translations from the Russian; Andrea Laczik for her help with translations from the Hungarian; Kate Maxwell for her conscientious proofreading and copy-editing; and Franziska Meyer and Laurel Plapp at Peter Lang for their enthusiasm and many helpful suggestions. Nelly Sachs, ‘O Nacht’, ‘Vor den Wänden’ © 2010 by Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main. Reproduced by kind permission.

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