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Hoffman EVA : Lost in Translation (Hbk) Hardcover – 1 Jan 1989


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (1 Jan. 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525246010
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525246015
  • Product Dimensions: 50.8 x 50.8 x 50.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 826,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The condition of exile is an exaggeration of the process of change and loss that is inevitable as we grow and mature; there is a sense in which we are all exiles from the decade of our childhood, but exiles are more so. Eva Hoffmann spent her childhood in Cracow, among family friends who, like her parents, had escaped the Holocaust and were sceptical about the newly imposed Communist state. Her parents managed to get sponsorship and emigrated to a 1950s Canada where Eva was old enough to feel a stranger--bland food and quieter lives and schoolmates hardly aware of where her original home was. Still, there were neighbours who knew something of other ways, and a piano teacher who could not have been more Middle-European in his neurotic enthusiasm. True exile was college in Texas, among people frightened and hostile and not, like Canadians, polite about it, or a Harvard where she found her new intellectual self alien even to her parents, or meeting childhood friends who had grown up in Israel and had the preoccupations of soldiers, and not scholars. Lost in Translation is a moving memoir which makes quite specific circumstances hugely more general in their application; it is a touching and an intelligent book.--Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A deep and lovely book. The author manages to capture the very essence of exile experience, in beautifully human terms against a background of keen and searching intellect. This is how tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people felt in this century. Eva Hoffman speaks movingly for all of them" (Josef Skvorecky, author of The Engineer of Human Souls)

"Eva Hoffman's elegant and elegaic autobiography is something different... It is the story...of a paradise lost but regained...a tender and memorable book" (Independent)

"Hoffman takes her experience into the realms of universality, expressing herself in a way which has echoes and points of recognition for others who leave their history, their roots, their known identity adn must try to recreate themselves in another culture... An exquisite feast" (Angela Neustatter Literary Review) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Severn meadows on 5 Aug. 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a book the reader goes on thinking about long after putting down. Readers will differ, of course, as to whether they are touched more by the section on Poland at the beginning, or are more engaged by the exploration of ideas towards the end. Awesomely erudite, the author describes a journey that is also profoundly moving. A personal account of an unwilling move from post-war Poland to Canada when she was young, develops into an absorbing discussion of language and identity. Riveting - please read it and tell your friends!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Feb. 2001
Format: Paperback
I fell in love with this book. For anyone,like myself,who has ever been uprooted and lost their sense of home,identity and language this is a must.Hoffmann knows best what it means that 'language is the only homeland' ( Czeslav Milosw). As a counsellor ,I would recommend this to anyone trying to understand the experience of immigration and loss of identity.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By C. Nation on 6 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Now, I know something about dislocation. I found my ID card amongst my mother's papers. Filled in seven days after my birth in Aug 1949 with the address of my first home, by the time I was 10 months old, 3 change-of-address sections had been filled in. I was 4 y.o. on the ship going out to Singapore. We had 3 more homes there in the next three years.

When my father was posted back to Europe, we continued this rate of moving. I was sent to boarding school in England as an attempt to mitigate the disturbing business of constantly changing schools. The result was that sometime I came 'home' to find that my parents had moved while I was at away. The 'home' I had left was now 'home' in some quite other place. Sometimes I came back to find that it was my pals from next door or down the street that had moved. Whether I moved or they moved, the result was that friendships were summarily ended without notice, without preamble. I've had 16 homes in London alone. To date, at age 58, I'm in #46 and as I put the key in the front door of this one for the first time, I thought, "Where next?"

So, I had a great deal of anticipation that this book would throw some light on the business of being an exile because, as you will grasp from the above, when someone asks me "Where are you from?" what on earth [pun intended] do I say?

The woman who wrote this book has done a lot of thinking about all this. I believe that, at bottom, her life after moving from Poland - school, university, post-grad, career - has been an conscious exercise in deconstructing her Polish self and replacing it with an American self. She has made this process a way of life in itself and life as she has lived it has been moulded to serve this end.

She has used language to do this. And my word!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Anita on 20 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amazing book.
My favourite part - 1st one, describing life in Cracow in late 40s. I was living in Cracow in 90s and it was not so much different. Very good description of family life, social life, relations between people, school system. Second part - cultural shock after getting to Canada. It is like journey in time and space - differences between Polish and Canadian teenagers then is similar to differences between teenagers then and now.
Last part requires dictionary, so many sophisticated words is being used. But it says a lot about being immigrant into different language and different life style.
Worth to read!
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