Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Edith Bruck: "La lingua è la mia patria"

Edith Bruck has published a new memoir called Il pane perduto, and the 88-year-old survivor of Auschwitz is promoting the book through a series of talks. I was able to "attend" one at Biblioteca Villino Corsini and I took some notes on what she said. So much wisdom in the words of a woman who for over 70 years has had to not only live without her parents and her beloved brother but also live with the knowledge that they perished in the  Holocaust in the cruelest way. Our dead loved ones, she told the virtual audience, "vivono dentro di noi," they live inside of us, and "sono sempre con noi," they are always with us.

Of her experience entering Auschwitz at age 12, she says, “Ho vissuto qualcosa assolutamente inimmaginabile,” meaning, "I lived through something that is absolutely unimaginable." 

And forget forgetting it, obviously: "Non riesci mai a dimenticare," You never manage to forget it. (But the rest of us? We do manage to forget this horrific era of humanity again and again. This era, which is not even so far away from today).

So how to survive? How to survive more than 70 years?

“Ci rifiugiamo nella scrittura.”

We take refuge in writing, she says. Indeed, Italian is a "rifiugio" for her. Or put a different way, "Language is my country."

Bruck began writing in Italian in the 1950s, and her entire body of work is in Italian -- the language she chose to describe what she couldn't bring herself to describe in her native Hungarian (language is her country, she says).

It's no surprise, then, that she says we need "una lingua nuova" (a new language) and "nuove parole" (and new words) to describe Auschwitz.

Even now.

I have had the honor of translating some of Bruck's poetry and she has also given me permission to translate some of her short stories. And it is one small way that I never forget the Shoah. That I pay respect, and that I seek to learn and re-learn the lessons of that era. It's become a small personal project to learn as much as I can about the Holocaust and World War II.

I'll never be able to learn enough. Luckily. I have her new memoir -- which has made this grand old lady once again a finalist for the Premio Strega. Auguri, Edith!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for reading the blog!