Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 24 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Lost in Translation.
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Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language Summary & Study Guide Description

Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language by Eva Hoffman.

"Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language" by Eva Hoffman is a non-fiction work recounting the author's life from childhood through her mid-thirties.

Hoffman's love of language is evident in her riveting storytelling style. There are two main things of which the reader should be aware. The first is that the Polish language differs from most others in that a family's surname bears gender and is therefore changed dependent upon the sex of the family member. One example is a family close to the Wydras. The author's friend, Krysia, has the surname Orlovska. The a at the end denotes the feminine. The father, Dr. Orlovski, uses an "i" at the end to denote the masculine. There is one major inconsistency throughout the book. Eva's younger sister, who is named after an aunt killed in a concentration camp, is named Alinka or Alina, depending on the section of the book. The names are interchangeable and both are used throughout.

Throughout this telling autobiography, the author runs the gamut of emotions from adolescent hope to disillusionment to fear, rage, joy, wonder, love, denial, and acceptance.

Part I, Paradise, is structured around the author's early years in Poland. There are rich descriptions of the landscape and of the lives of those in and around the Wydra family. Although life is hard it is all the Polish people know and overall it is a happy life. Also included are the socio-economic conditions and how the society had been impacted by the war, which ended only two months before the author's birth.

Part II, Exile, details the Wydra family leaving Poland to immigrate to Canada. This section captures the bewilderment and confusion of a young girl in a foreign land and how the family must learn to adapt to a new country, its language and customs.

Exile, has tones of confusion, fear, and bewilderment. As the section recounts to the Wydras' move to Vancouver, it also includes the many the trials and tribulations faced by immigrants who are ill prepared to set foot in a world that could not be more foreign. Conquering the language and customs proves to be a daunting task yet there are many other things to be addresses, from the housing to the work ethic to the general behavior of the people, particularly females.

Part III, The New World, picks up when the author receives a scholarship to Rice University in Houston, Texas. It is in Texas where Hoffman will receive her first bit of "Americanization" and also meet her future husband. The tale tells of Eva's changes as she goes through college and eventually heads east to attend Harvard. There are reminiscences as well as new experiences to be examined. Although the author is highly accomplished, the struggle to define herself is never finished.

There is an overall excitement married with trepidation about venturing into the New World. There are many opportunities yet there is also remorse over the loss of the old world and the inability to marry the two existences. A great deal of fear and rage also exists regarding immigrant status and the role in which Eva is forced to play. Eva fights against the system and eventually forges her own way. There also a sense of loss for the old, a feeling of acceptance for what is, and most importantly, a feeling of hope for the future.

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This section contains 567 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language Study Guide
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