Elsa Triolet’s Bilingualism
This chapter marks a departure from the previous three authors treated in this book and looks at an author who questioned the role of a particular Jewish identity in French. Triolet shifted from writing about the painful and confining experience of being a bilingual writer in interwar France to celebrating French-Russian bilingualism in the war in her novel about the Communist Resistance in Lyon and its environs, Le Premier accroc coûte deux cents frances (A Fine of Two Hundred Francs). In the same novel, she also began to analyze Franco-Jewish identity. While she embraces bilingualism in the war, and while she includes Jews in the International struggle, she rejects a particular Jewish language and a particular Jewish experience of the war. The chapter traces her shifting approach to language and Jewishness through three symbols: the corset, a painting of a woman, and buried notebooks.
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