Between Language and Music an Intellectual Biography

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: 302
Oral Presentation
Roswitha BRECKNER , Sociology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

The author of ‘Lost in Translation’, Eva Hoffman, became famous with her painstaking, autobiographically informed analysis what it meant for a teenager in the late 1950ies to move from a country in Old Europe, Poland, to another one in the New World, Canada. At the time Eva Hoffman wrote her book thirty years after her actual move in the late 1980ies, she focused on narrating and reflecting the long way it took to get easy going with English as the language of a different world, especially when trying to ‘translate’ the emotional connotations of childhood experiences.

Twenty years later after this landmark in scholarly discussions of experiences of migration and multilingualism, Eva Hoffman wrote the novel “Appassionata” (2009). A passionate and dramatic love affair between an American pianist and a Chechen partisan forms the story of this book, which is at the same time centred around extended reflections on music. Even though the autobiographical background of this novel is not at all obvious like in ‘Lost in Translation’, there is a strong connection between these two books.

In my paper I will reconstruct the intersections of cultures and nationalities, and more specifically of language and music in the biography of Eva Hoffman as particular ways to form and express fundamental experiences of an intellectual woman in turbulent historical times and circumstances.