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“Writing in a Foreign Tongue” – Dumitru Tsepeneag

February 23rd, 2003 · No Comments · Diaspora, quotations, Translations

“The writer who is compelled to abandon its native tongue to replace it with a new one, is like the rank, without his gun, deserting his country, in a breathless flight, living a timeless nightmare. A deep wound, if there must be one. Some old sentences are still sticking to the flesh and once they are successfully removed, there is still some residue left over from the old language, some torn out pieces of words, some dust of ancient syllables. Still, little by little, the old language beats a retreat, eroded from within its very structure, finally giving way to the new invader.

And, at long last, once the crossing of the bridge is done and one reached the new shore, succeeding in the process of changing one’s tongue, would the writing also have changed with it? For the ghosts of yore are still too deeply ensconced within ourselves, so that not even an army of beaters could put them to flight to deliver us from our past.”

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Dumitru Tsepeneag, Romanian novelist exiled in France, in “Le Mot Sablier”.
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Rendered in English by Constantin ROMAN (February 2003)

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