The Literature of Emigration and Exile

The Literature of Emigration and Exile

The Literature of Emigration and Exile

The Literature of Emigration and Exile

Excerpt

To go into exile was written neither in my mind nor in my
heart. I tore myself by force from the soil upon which I stood
.
(Tabori 1972, 43)

Thus wrote an Egyptian named Sinuhe 4000 years ago. Exile, emigration, expatriation, ostracism, and nomadic migration are presumably even much older than that, yet foreigners (los despistados, “the disoriented” as the Spanish mischievously nickname them) commonly receive more condescension than understanding from new neighbors. Vestiges of prejudice or provincialism thwart even the academic investigation of alienation. Consider, for example, Terry Eagleton's Exiles and Émigrés: Studies in Modern Literature (1970). He starts his book by deeming the situation “odd” that immigrants from various parts of the English-speaking world (and beyond) have contributed significantly to its literature (9). He ends asserting that the works of even his favorites (Conrad, James, Eliot, Pound, Yeats, and Joyce) must have been “substitutes for genuine ‘objectivity’ and imaginative penetrations” because they were expatriates (219). His book, nonetheless, is one of so few, general, theoretical explorations of exilic literature that, almost inevitably, scholars regularly cite it. Another frequently mentioned theoretical work, Michael Seidel's Exile and the Narrative Imagination (1986), does not suffer from chauvinism, but does (like Eagleton's) limit itself to a few examples, all of them English-language. Thus, in an area (exilic literature) where bilingualism is the norm, Seidel, despite some creditable insights, also seems slightly parochial. Aside from these two volumes, the examination of exile and émigré literature is dominated by relatively specialized studies, as even a brief list of recent books may indicate: La Emigración y el Exilio en la Literatura Hispanica del Siglo Veinte (1988); Alien Tongues: Bilingual Russian Writers of the “First” Emigration (1989) . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.