29 July 2009

Yoko Tawada on a word

In an interview by Bettina Brandt in April, 2005, talking about her novel Das Nackte Auge, Yoko Tawada showed why even a single word is important for writers:

"BB: Can you tell us something about your work method?

"YT: A single word can inspire me. When this happens, I want to create a whole text out of that one word, which seems to contain the entire microcosm. That is my dream, and it is how I often start writing. I use variations of this word, place associations next to each other, create word chains like branches of a tree, and play with different forms and shapes. Finally, I realize that I have to create an ending, but I don't find an ending because I don't want to and cannot have a result. A text is a weird and wonderful plant that has grown in all directions out of a single word knot."

When that single word knot comes from a language other than the writer's mother tongue (which most likely happens with Tawada, since she is multilingual), literary critics have the obligation to recreate or to retrace the journey of that word through various languages. That is the least that readers of literary criticism expect.

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