I write in English and in French. Writing in a foreign language, a second tongue, une deuxième langue, is a different process to writing with one's mother tongue. Naturally, the age at which one learnt the second language shapes the experience. I have only learnt and written in French as an adult. Following the Second World War, Beckett chose to write in French,"Je me remis à écrire en français avec le désir de m’appauvrir encore davantage", "I started writing in French with the desire to simplify even more". When I write in French, I am more conscience of the structure of the process. I construct a wall, align my sentences with care, place bricks slowly, spread cement. The text does not flow, it is built. The second language can induce a distance between the words and the things, the writer and the text. In the book, Interférences de langues et de cultures dans le monde francophone, they name the author's second language as a langue épousée; an expression far more poetic in French than English, translating as a married language. This Guardian article gives a little peek into Dan Vyleta's experience.
mercredi 30 janvier 2013
mercredi 23 janvier 2013
This evening I've been inside the pages of a The Skin of A Lion by Michael Ondaatje. Reading this book feels like biting into a raw lemon, diving into a January sea, the words steal seconds of my beating heart. Ondaatje captures bodies both in work and leisure, making love, setting explosives and building bridges with sensuality. The images from the book are, this evening, branded in my mind: a nun falling at night from the half-built bridge; the imprint of a women's spine on a white-washed wall; a secret, like a small pebble that a man eats as a child, that grows inside him, that could have been cast away at the age of seven or twenty, but that now weighs down on his every walking step. I am reminded of the novel by Maylis de Kerangal Naissance d'un pont, The birth of a bridge. The mechanic of these two books are linked by steel and the stories of the strangers who come from elsewhere, to construct structures joining together two pieces of land.
samedi 19 janvier 2013
I read books fast and usually, read from beginning to end. That is to say, it's rare that I don't finish a book. I can skim through the dull bits and then, if I like a book I'll read it again, and again and again. I've read some books more than a dozen times. They are like houses I return to, places I have known, familiar paths upon which my feet tread. I taught myself to read before I was four. I have devoured books ever since. A day never passes where I don't read. It's a kind of addiction, a nest, an escape. When I read I am elsewhere, ailleurs. At the moment I am reading Amos Oz, A Tale of Love and Darkness. Slowly, I savour each word, taste their distinctive flavour, nestle in the paragraphs and make myself at home. The sentences and I are slow in parting. The book lingers in my mouth like the chocolate tart I made at Christmas; I don't really want it to end. I am cooking from the book Jerusalem at the moment. Israel is in my body and mind.