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Ariel Dorfman is no stranger to exile. Before his 30th birthday, he had fled with his parents (Jews who had escaped from Eastern Europe) from Argentina to the U.S. and then later to Chile. Then, following a military coup, he fled Chile for a stint in Europe before returning to the U.S. For Dorfman, this was not traveling but enduring, as his forced movement between nations, cultures, and languages left him without a place to call home or a culture he could completely define as his own. Although heralded as one of Latin America's leading writers, he once renounced the Spanish language and swore to become an American in both speech and culture. Later, while a student at Berkeley, he abandoned English with the same vengeance and returned to his native Spanish. Such vacillation caused him to ponder the role of language in forming identity, and this theme runs throughout Heading South, Looking North: A Bilingual Journey. His desire to embrace his Latin roots went beyond language, however, for it was politics that ultimately thrust him into the role of a writer, thus changing his life. He had wanted to be a part of the American protest movement, but he feared the official wrath that could befall him due to his immigrant status: "This seemed to be my fate. In Chile, I had been Argentinean; here, I was Chilean; always the danger of deportation, my foreign passport weighing down on me. So I looked on while heads were broken, sit-ins were disrupted, and damsels in distress were dragged off by the 'pigs.' ... My participation was always surreptitious and oblique...." But in Chile his involvement took a more active stance. His status as official citizen emboldened him and he enthusiastically embraced Salvador Allende's socialist movement, serving for a time as the administration's communications and media advisor; a choice that eventually earned him yet another round of exile back in the U.S. (where he continues to reside) after the death of Allende and the rise of General Augusto Pinochet. A remarkable story of perseverance and the inherent power of language, Heading South, Looking North is ultimately a quest for self-identity. The fact that he wrote this book in English may answer the question of where he stands--for now. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The details of this artfully constructed memoir by a Chilean novelist probably best known in this country for his play Death and the Maiden are dramatic, but what makes the book remarkable is its continuing meditation on language and its role in forging identity. When Dorfman was born in Argentina in 1942, his Jewish parents, who had fled Russia, named him Vladimiro in honor of Lenin. In 1945, they moved to New York City, where their son (who adopted the name Edward) refused to speak Spanish and became a believer in popular American culture, even rooting for his father's enemy, Peron, because as long as Juan and Evita remained in power, the Dorfmans would never return to Buenos Aires. In 1955, under pressure from Sen. Joseph McCarthy, Dorfman's father left his job at the U.N. and took his family to Chile, where "Edward" attended an English school. After college, he went north again in 1968 to study at Berkeley and returned to Chile in 1970 to be part of Salvador Allende's socialist government. Three years later, Allende was dead, the country was in the midst of a military putsch and Dorfman was fleeing for his life, back to North America. In alternating chapters, the author relates what happened when Allende was overthrown and the story of his own life and how it was shaped by the language he was speaking. Dorfman at times seems more concerned with writing a "literary" work than with telling a story, but as the book goes on, the self-conscious flourishes diminish and the result is an astonishing portrait of the shaping of a life.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I was moved by this tale of identity formation and acclimation to new lands and cultures, beautifully written (although with some repetition). Read morePublished 17 months ago by Andrew D. Oram
The prose is beautiful, even as the author takes a courageous, critical look at his two homes. He celebrates the gifts (especially of language) that each has given him. Read morePublished on December 9, 2011 by Amazon Customer
Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden helped me learn some new Spanish words, soak in Chile, Chilito, pisco sour... Read morePublished on June 25, 2006 by An Mhuruch
While Mr. Dorfman's experience of crossing cultures and language during a high profile time in Chilian and American history is poinent, it is not unique or objective. Read morePublished on February 21, 2002 by Harriet Cannon
I struggled through most of this shallow and narrow book before giving it up. A traditionalist in the sense that he follows in his father`s footsteps, Dorfman adheres to the most... Read morePublished on October 17, 2000 by Joe Blow
I struggled through most of this shallow and narrow book before giving it up. A traditionalist in the sense that he follows in his fathers footsteps, Dorfman adheres to the most... Read morePublished on October 17, 2000 by Joe Blow
I'm sorry, but after 3 attempts, I couldn't finish this self-indulgent tome.Published on January 25, 2000
This is the kind of book I thought I'd enjoy. A memoir by Ariel Dorfman, the novelist, the exile, living now with his family in Durham, North Carolina, where he holds the Walter... Read morePublished on September 17, 1999 by ZZR-RR