As a hobbyist blogger with the temerity to write in English on her blog, it irks me to realize the pomposity of literature and the hypocrisy of classicism, especially in American writers. Take, for example, my ambivalent opinion on the book introduction about ‘Essays Two’ by Lydia Davis I read from the 12/11/2021 issue of The New York Times Book Review.
Knowing another language certainly gives you a unique insight into the world with a subtle but more caring timbre of sentiment and reason common to all human creatures. But the magical ability is not a prerogative of a brilliant professional translator of a high literate/academic echelon. Davis’s Marcel Proust is undoubtedly impressive, but Proust is not for everybody, showing that the literati excludes general readers. On the other hand, there are would-be, potential, or unclaimed writers whose narratives are to be reckoned with, from a refugee to an immigrant. Take Nobel Literature Prize winners Abdulrazak Gurnah (2021) and Kazuo Ishiguro (2017). Both used English as their literary tool to articulate their narratives with the images seen through their poetic “third eye” sense.
Davis and other translators-turned writers speak languages of the same language family. So, of course, the perspectives are similar. But, in all fairness, I want to see writers (and former translators) of all social classes writing about subject elements of particular views from a platform where they become universalizing, striking the chords of our human life. Isn’t that what literature is about?