Jhumpa Lahiri’s Narratives of Self-Traslation as Dynamic Encounters with the Other

by Eleonora Natalia Ravizza

This essay deals with how translational processes may be incorporated in
narratives concerned with the relational modes in which hybrid subjectivities
may come into being. In altre parole, Jhumpa Lahiri’s autobiographical work
which addresses the author’s relationship to Italian as a foreign language, as
well as her choice of Italian as the language of her most recent literary production,
is analysed as a text which does not only represent, but also stages the
processes through which a second language is learnt and contributes in redefining
the self-perception of the speaker. Although Lahiri describes her fiction
as an apparently intimate space of isolation and exile, in this essay I argue that
it is overdetermined by an awareness of the transpersonal, relational nature of
subjectivity, as well as by the desire to explore languages as sites of both exile
and reconnection. Also, by showing that language is, itself, a place of alterity,
she challenges notions of selfhood and otherness, and engages with interlinguistic
and intercultural communication as forms of mutual understanding
and respect.