22 November 2009

Lawrence Rosenwald's Multilingual America

A book that I forgot to buy when I was in the US recently (on a book-buying spree) is Multilingual America: Language and the Making of American Literature (2008), by Lawrence Alan Rosenwald. Have you read it? What do you think about it? The publisher-friendly blurbs from Amazon.com are promising, but of course they may not tell the real picture:

"'This is a splendid book, unlike any currently in the field, and setting a standard for literary scholarship the rest of us can only aspire to. Lawrence Rosenwald brings to the project an impressive range of languages and a different vision of what we might want to do with texts. His goal is to write a history of American literature showcasing languages as the key players. Multilingual America is an impressive achievement: all Americanists will sit up and pay attention.' Wai Chi Dimock, Yale University

"'This is a remarkable work. This book addresses an extremely important and timely subject. It combines high intelligence and lucidity with deep erudition and modesty. Every page is extremely interesting. Every scholar or teacher of American literature will learn much from it, and it will be greatly useful to many students of American literature and culture (around the world as well as domestically), as well as to students and scholars of comparative literature and of intercultural encounter more broadly.' Jonathan Arac, University of Pittsburgh

"Product Description: Throughout its history, America has been the scene of multiple encounters between communities speaking different languages. Literature has long sought to represent these encounters in various ways, from James Fenimore Cooper's frontier fictions to the Jewish-American writers who popularised Yiddish as a highly influential modern vernacular. While other studies have concentrated on isolated parts of this history, Lawrence Rosenwald's book is the first to consider the whole story of linguistic representation in American literature, and to consider as well how multilingual fictions can be translated and incorporated into a national literary history. He uses case studies to analyse the most important kinds of linguistic encounters, such as those between Europeans and Native Americans, those between slaveholders and African slaves, and those between immigrants and American citizens. This ambitious, engaging book is an important contribution to the study of American literature, history and culture."

3 comments:

  1. Sounds interesting and worth the dollars. Thanks for this info, Ani.

    Comne to think of it, we haven't really left the Tower of Babel.

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  2. Sounds very interesting. Will check it out. Thank you.

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