Translating Myself and Others

Translating Myself and Others

by Jhumpa Lahiri
Translating Myself and Others

Translating Myself and Others

by Jhumpa Lahiri


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Luminous essays on translation and self-translation by an award-winning writer and literary translator

Translating Myself and Others is a collection of candid and disarmingly personal essays by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, who reflects on her emerging identity as a translator as well as a writer in two languages.

With subtlety and emotional immediacy, Lahiri draws on Ovid’s myth of Echo and Narcissus to explore the distinction between writing and translating, and provides a close reading of passages from Aristotle’s Poetics to talk more broadly about writing, desire, and freedom. She traces the theme of translation in Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks and takes up the question of Italo Calvino’s popularity as a translated author. Lahiri considers the unique challenge of translating her own work from Italian to English, the question “Why Italian?,” and the singular pleasures of translating contemporary and ancient writers.

Featuring essays originally written in Italian and published in English for the first time, as well as essays written in English, Translating Myself and Others brings together Lahiri’s most lyrical and eloquently observed meditations on the translator’s art as a sublime act of both linguistic and personal metamorphosis.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691238616
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 09/12/2023
Pages: 216
Sales rank: 399,963
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

About The Author
Jhumpa Lahiri is the Millicent C. McIntosh Professor of English and director of the Creative Writing Program at Barnard College. A writer in both English and Italian, she is the author of Interpreter of Maladies, which won the Pulitzer Prize, and the editor of The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories. She has translated three novels by Domenico Starnone into English.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:

London, England


B.A., Barnard College; M.A., Ph.D., Boston University

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

(1) Why Italian? 9

(2) Containers 23

Introduction to Ties Domenico Starnone

(3) Juxtaposition 33

Introduction to Trick Domenico Starnone

(4) In Praise of Echo 44

Reflections on the Meaning of Translation

(5) An Ode to the Mighty Optative 60

Notes of a Would-be Translator

(6) Where I Find Myself 70

On Self-Translation

(7) Substitution 86

Afterword to Trust Domenico Starnone

(8) Traduzione (stra)ordinaria / (Extra)ordinaxy Translation 98

On Gramsci

(9) Lingua/Language 131

(10) Calvino Abroad 141

Afterword 147

Translating Transformation

Acknowledgments 157

Notes on the Essays 159

Appendix: Two Essays in Italian 161

Selected Bibliography 182

Index 191

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Jhumpa Lahiri is a marvel, a writer with the courage to renounce virtuosity for the sake of vulnerability, experiment, and growth, and it’s been wonderful to watch her love affair with the Italian language unfold. In these essays, she delves deep into the fertile interstices of and between languages, giving us a book rich with insights and pleasures.”—Susan Bernofsky, author of Clairvoyant of the Small: The Life of Robert Walser

“A remarkable account of Jhumpa Lahiri’s journey from English to Italian and back. Her pages on the myth of Echo are the most poignant and eloquent account of the translator’s art that I have ever read.”—Michael F. Moore, translator of Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed

“With this collection of elegant essays, Jhumpa Lahiri makes her career as a writer of two languages and, increasingly, as a translator between them seem less an eccentric adventure than a necessary one. No man is an island—and no language, either.”—David Bellos, author of Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything

“In these stunning essays, Jhumpa Lahiri brilliantly investigates the fluctuating borders between writer and translator, language and identity, artist and art. Her intellectual and deeply personal inquiries—reminiscent of Hannah Arendt, Virginia Woolf, and Susan Sontag—challenge us to engage with our own mysterious and metamorphic relationship to language and who we are.”—Jenny McPhee, translator of Natalia Ginzburg’s Family Lexicon

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