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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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Part II Shifting Language, Shifting Thought: Philosophical and Stylistic Effects of Migration


Part II Shifting Language, Shifting Thought: Philosophical and Stylistic Ef fects of Migration Tobias Dahlkvist Exile as a School of Scepticism: Emil Cioran1 If there is such a thing as an archetypal exile writer, then surely Emil Cioran is a serious contender for the title. This was certainly how he perceived himself. In an interview with the Spanish writer Fernando Savater for instance, Cioran states, as he would often do, that his lack of a citizenship corresponds to his metaphysical status: ‘Je suis un apatride métaphysique, un peu comme ces stoïciens de la fin de l’Empire romain qui se sentaient “citoyens du monde”, ce qui est une façon de dire qu’ils n’étaient citoyens de nulle part.’ [I am metaphysically stateless, a bit like the stoics of the end of the Roman Empire who felt as if they were ‘citizens of the world’, which is a way of saying that they were citizens of nowhere.]2 Born in the Transylvanian village Răşinari in 1911, then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he studied philosophy in Bucharest and Berlin before he came to Paris in 1937, the city where he would settle permanently. Before arriving in Paris, he wrote three books in Romanian, and would eventually write two more before changing language in the late 1940s. With Précis de décom- position (1949; A Short History of Decay, 1975) and the nine books that followed it he aimed at writing a French more beautiful and impeccable...

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