Why English and American literature

One of the most vivid recollections from my early childhood is that of a colourful-illustrated Dr. Seuss’s book which my eldest sister, who spoke English amazingly well for her young age, had brought from a recent trip to the States. This was a book that she, yes, but not I, was able to read. I think it was this inability which urged me to learn this language, so that I could understand those words that, at that time, made no sense to me. But it was not until the age of ten, and after having insisted to my parents for some time, that I engaged English lessons at a local private institute. 
In the years to come I developed a taste for reading which – except for a brief lapse during my adolescence – grew finer in time like a good scotch. The bookshelves at home were well stuffed, a courtesy from my clever mother, and at school it occurred to my teachers that because most students handed in poor writing tasks and coud not read fluently, a stern reading scheme was in order. To this day I believe that to be the wisest decision they ever made.
It was not long before my English lessons started to pay off, and soon I was able to read stories and novels of American and English authors – from the shortened versions to the unabridged ones – in their original language. This I did and still do with great pleasure and, I should add, with a sense of privilege – it is not my intention to underestimate the invaluable work of translators, but I have always felt that a bit of the magic of the words (wether it is their mood, rhythm, strength, flow, or the way they sound when read outloud) is lost in the translation of a text.
Nontheless, there are some worries of mine as I sometimes turn over in my mind why I prefer reading foreign literature, and wonder if it is because I am not familiar with Argentinian’s. It is notable, however, and perhaps a bit ironic too, that reading poetry in English is the reason I have recently become interested in Borges, whose work I soon expect to grow intimate with.
In spite of this, I feel excited about what is to come. There are a lot of novels in my neighbourhood’s bookshop that seem worthy, so it appears that a lot of reading awaits. I feel confident that English as well as Spanish will prove to be a fit companion for this adventure.

One response to “Why English and American literature

  • mariethea

    My parent’s bookshelves were well-stocked too. It’s probably the best start, I think 🙂

    I’ve been been making a point of reading more multi-cultural literature, but I only wish I could read them in the original languages! As you say, a good translation can help so much, but you always wonder what was lost. Great post!

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