Return Visits: The European Background of Transcultural Life Writing

Alfred Hornung

Abstract


In this article I read autobiographies by East Europeans who immigrated to Canada in connection with the Second World War as examples of transcultural life writing. My focus on the representation of return visits of these loyal Canadian citizens to their country of origin after 1989 reveals the underlying intention of relating the experience of life in a multicultural democratic society to the emergence of a new political consciousness in Eastern Europe. In my analysis I distinguish four types of concerns which try to bridge the past of their childhood experiences with the formation of a transcultural life in the 21st century: 1. Anna Porter’s return visit to Hungary for family reunion and an encounter with history in The Storyteller; 2. Modris Eksteins’s political motivation in Walking Since Daybreak as a historian who revisits his birthplace in Latvia as well as the stages of his displacement in German refugee camps for research on the history of the war years; 3. Janice Kulyk Keefer’s private driving tour of the Ukraine and Poland and the discovery of new political realities in Honey and Ashes; 4. Lisa Appignanesi’s search for the traces of the Holocaust in her native Poland in Losing the Dead. These reconnections with an earlier life from the Canadian perspective in transcultural life writings can be likened to the recent discussions of the constitution of transnational societies in a cosmopolitan world.


Keywords


Transcultural life writing; East European Immigrants in Canada

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5463/ejlw.2.50

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