The purpose of this paper is to question the issues concerning the effects of expatriation, exile and migrancy on literary texts written by “transitional subjects”. As the author goes deeper into a reading of the works written by exiled writers or books on human geography, psychology of migration, linguistics and literature, it seems clear to her that it is impossible to draw general conclusions about the effects of exile on literature. Above all, the subject that she is dealing with has to do with problems of cultural self-representation which take into account both the place from where the exile writer speaks, and the place from where the reader criticizes.
This paper shows the surprising and imaginative way in which Yiddish American writer Isaac Bashevis Singer conveyed the experience of travelling from the Old World to the New one and the following exile adventure. We see how he described the transition between two cultures and man’s metamorphosis in that process – an experience of passing, conflicts and transformation which is at the very heart of American culture as a whole. In 1945, ten years after his arrival in the US, Singer published a short story, “Die kleyne shusterleck” (“The Little Shoemakers”), about the crossing from the Old World to the New one, where for the first time he dealt with the American experience from the point of view of a refugee. This work, which was a real turning point in Singer’s writing career, is at the centre of this article.
The author’s purpose is to explore the traditional stance of critical literature on the experience of exile, and to juxtapose it with an alternative critical approach, based on a theory of exile-and-expulsion literature as a literature of trauma. Beforehand, however, the term “exile” and its distinction from related concepts such as “emigration/émigré” are defined. Citations taken out of biographies and interviews of concerned Austrian Jews give us an image of the situation these exiles found themselves in: the obstacles encountered when trying to get out of Nazi-Austria and into another country, the difficulties in the relation with the host country, its language and culture, and later on, the consideration of a possible return to Austria. Finally the focus is on the problems faced by those who, trying to overcome their trauma, wrote down their stories.
This paper analyses the construction of National Identity in James Fenimore Cooper’s ‘The Wing-and-Wing’. The novel, published in 1842, is largely about the identification of foreignness, of typical – or supposedly typical – national traits. The main characters are repeatedly under the scrutiny of inquisitive eyes, trying to detect their origins and their customs. What is more, because of the historical moment depicted in the novel, because of the situation of hostility between nations, some of the characters are forced to hide their national identity and put on a mask. Therefore the theme of disguise, the necessity to pass for someone else, is central of Cooper’s work. For the hero, in particular, the ability to pass for an Englishman, in the first part of the novel, and later, for an Italian, is – quite literally – a matter of life and death. What Cooper does in his work can thus be seen as an attempt at defining national identity in opposition, in conflict and contrast.