This paper focuses on the violence exerted on the individual by the migration experience, including the kind of violence that is voluntarily self-inflicted and not bound by a tragic necessity or produced by external forces. Psychological and linguistic dislocation may cause wounds as cruel and devastating as the ones physically provoked by migration. Writing and literature become thus powerful instruments or disquieting forms of expiation/reparation for such a displacement. Drawing from recent studies on the complicated relations that bond translation and migration, I will analyse the Chinese-American writer Yiyun Li’s fiction as an example of “self-deterritorialisation”. The language strategy adopted by the writer is revelatory of her way to deal with her own past and personal identity. By closely reading her fiction and her 2017 autobiographical essay, we find out that her refusal of her own mother tongue is rooted in an entangled relationship with her family and homeland, which she translates into the literary description of shattered and humiliated female bodies. As Peter Brooks states, bodies must be listened to rather than only looked at.

The Death of the Mother Tongue: Language‘s Inadequacy and Body Representation in Chinese-American Writer Yiyun Li

Nicoletta Pesaro
2019

Abstract

This paper focuses on the violence exerted on the individual by the migration experience, including the kind of violence that is voluntarily self-inflicted and not bound by a tragic necessity or produced by external forces. Psychological and linguistic dislocation may cause wounds as cruel and devastating as the ones physically provoked by migration. Writing and literature become thus powerful instruments or disquieting forms of expiation/reparation for such a displacement. Drawing from recent studies on the complicated relations that bond translation and migration, I will analyse the Chinese-American writer Yiyun Li’s fiction as an example of “self-deterritorialisation”. The language strategy adopted by the writer is revelatory of her way to deal with her own past and personal identity. By closely reading her fiction and her 2017 autobiographical essay, we find out that her refusal of her own mother tongue is rooted in an entangled relationship with her family and homeland, which she translates into the literary description of shattered and humiliated female bodies. As Peter Brooks states, bodies must be listened to rather than only looked at.
Viajes y escrituras: migraciones y cartografías de la violencia
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3714929
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