الكتابة بلغة أجنبية / To Write in a Foreign Language



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عدنان, إيتل; Adnan, Etel; سعيد مصطفى, داليا; Said Mostafa, Dalia

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[In her personal account, Etel Adnan presents different stages in her life to reveal to what degree the learning of foreign languages has had an impact on her artistic creativity. She starts with her childhood as she was born to a Greek mother and a Syrian father, during a time when the Ottoman Empire controlled the Arab world. Consequently, her parents spoke the Turkish language, while French was taught at schools. After WWI, Adnan's parents moved to Beirut where she was born to find herself within an environment of a multiplicity of languages. She studied at French schools and spoke French with her parents at home as well. Her father, however, insisted on teaching her Arabic, her mother language that was not taught at the French schools. During her college years, she moved to the University of California at Berkeley where she studied philosophy. In America, political events, particularly the Vietnam War, provoked her to start writing poetry in English. Adnan then moved to the field of painting where she could express herself non-verbally. With the national liberation movements erupting in a number of Arab countries during the 1950s and 1960s, especially the liberation war in Algeria, Adnan found herself in a state of contradiction with the languages she learned and wrote in. She was unable to write in the Arabic language, but only in French or English, the colonizers' languages. Thus, painting presented for her a richer medium of expression where she felt more at balance with herself. Adnan eventually reconciled herself to writing creatively in all the idioms available toher.]

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