Memory in Exile: Eva Hoffman's "Lost in Translation"

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Eva Hoffman’s memoir, Lost in Translation, is a timeline of events from her life in Cracow, Poland – Paradise – to her immigration to Vancouver, Canada – Exile – and into her college and literary life – The New World. Eva breaks up her journey into these three sections and gives her personal observations of her assimilation into a new world. The story is based on memory – Eva Hoffman gives us her first-hand perspective through flashbacks with introspective analysis of her life “lost in translation”. It is her memory that permeates through her writing and furthermore through her experiences. As the reader we are presented many examples of Eva’s memory as they appear through her interactions. All of these interactions evoke memory, ultimately through the quest of finding reality equal to that of her life in Poland. The comparison of Eva’s exile can never live up to her Paradise and therefore her memories of her past can never be replaced but instead only can be supplemented. Eva starts the memoir in the middle of the action on the boat to Canada. We instantly become aware of the situation and before we are presented with memories of the home she is leaving, she establishes the idea of memory. After hearing the Polish anthem after departing, Eva comments, “I am suffering my first, severe attack of nostalgia or tesknota – a word that adds to nostalgia the tonalities of sadness and longing” (4). The sound of the Polish anthem is an instant reminder that she is leaving her whole life behind. “I’m filled to the brim with what I’m about to lose – images of Cracow, which I loves as one loves a person, of the sun-baked villages where we had taken summer vacations, of the hours, I spent poring over passages of music with my piano teacher, of conversations and escapades with friends” (4). All of these memories that Eva holds near to her heart become the foundation of her life and future experiences. Eva later comments, “How absurd our childish attachments...
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