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Lost In Translation: A Life in a New Language by [Hoffman, Eva]
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Lost In Translation: A Life in a New Language Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Length: 292 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Amazon.co.uk 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

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

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1385 KB
  • Print Length: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (30 Sept. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005E87SBM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #196,372 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I would not buy this book. I got it at the university library because I have to write a research paper about language learning. I drag through reading most of it. It was so boring. Her language and way of expression is not American that it is so full of herself in an alien difficult manner. In my memory, she describes the housewife as "ugly" and a dead-end job. I looked at her pictures and I think she looked stressful and old at her age.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book. I think Eva Hoffman is a beautiful writer and she covers the themes of loss, identity, being and belonging with real insight and authenticity. Yes, it is certainly wordy, indulgent and earnest for the most part but somehow, that just added to its charm. She certainly invites the reader into her search for meaning and clarity! I enjoyed it immensely.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
started off v interesting, descriptions of polish life and character and the transition to life in Canada.

by the time I got to the third quarter of the book and had the same thing about words not being transferrable between cultures for the nth time, got bored with the self obsessed whining tone. Could hardly finish it.
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