Trembling in the House of Time: Linguistic Re-appropriation through Self-translation in Juan Gelman’s dibaxu

Brandon Rigby


Confronting exile and loss is a key element in the work of Argentine poet Juan Gelman (1930–2014). In the 1994 Ladino and Spanish collection dibaxu, the bilingual format of the book prompts a linguistic vacillation between languages, enabling the creation of an interliminal space away from the control of the oppressive military regime of the Argentine Dirty War (1974–1983). By creating an interaction between the archaic Jewish language of exile and a non-descript contemporary Spanish to place an emphasis on the space between languages, the speaker establishes a new locus where he can be reunited with his beloved, who represents those who were lost in the Dirty War as well as the poet’s homeland of Argentina. 


Ladino; self-translation; Juan Gelman; language; poetry; Dirty War

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