Embracing European Linguistic Diversity and Civic Solidarity in Twentieth Century Narratives of Travel

    • Présentatrice(s) ou présentateur(s)
      • Rhian Collings, Étudiant(e) de 2e cycle, Erasmus Mundus International Triple M.A. - University of Bergamo (IT), University of Guelph (CA), University of Lisbon (PT)

    The writings of Stefan Zweig, Primo Levi and Paul Theroux – authors with German, Italian and English as their mother tongues respectively – explore the joys of Europe’s astoundingly diverse linguistic landscape from their privileged position at the border between travel writing and autobiography. In this paper, I will focus specifically on how Zweig’s The World of Yesterday, Levi’s La tregua and Theroux’s The Pillars of Hercules create a sense of European civic solidarity through the varied ways in which they champion linguistic diversity. Myself defying linguistic boundaries, I will bring these three multilingual writers together by focusing on how the theories of linguistic inclusion upheld by the likes of Amin Maalouf and Peter A. Kraus resonate with the narratives in question. My paper will specifically concentrate on Zweig’s role as a literary translator and cultural mediator, Levi’s promotion of languages other than his own in order to foster international understanding, and Theroux’s demonstration of his love for language itself and, more particularly, for the languages that he innovatively refers to as the languages ‘of the Mediterranean’. The writings of all three of these authors will be shown to play a key role in creating the outward-looking and all-embracing attitude towards European languages that Peter A. Kraus refers to as a ‘Union in Diversity’, and that the EU is striving to implement today.


    Levi, Primo: La tregua, (Einaudi, 1963).

    Maalouf, Amin (chair): A Rewarding Challenge. How the Multiplicity of Languages could Strengthen Europe in Proposals from the Group of Intellectuals for Intercultural Dialogue set up at the initiative of the European Commission, (Brussels, 2008).

    Prochnik, George: The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World, (Kindle Edition, 2014).

    Theroux, Paul: The Pillars of Hercules, 1995, (Kindle Edition).

    Zweig, Stefan: The World of Yesterday, 1941 (trans. Anthea Bell, Kindle Edition, 2011).



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