Have any authors written literary works in multiple languages or a language that wasn't their native tongue?

Lucas J Meeker

Lucas J Meeker, Colgate Alum, High Honors in English '07, writer, love critical theory, contemp. NF and modernist poets.

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Ezra Pound's Les cantos is probably the best example of this phenomenon. This 1000+ page poem featured au moins a dozen languages, including:

  1. latin
  2. Grecque
  3. Arabic
  4. Chinois
  5. Ancient Egyptian
  6. Allemand
  7. Français
  8. Italien
  9. Medieval Italian
  10. Espagnol
  11. Provencal
  12. Middle English

Along with, of course, his native American English. I'm pretty confident there are a couple more than that as well.

He always said, in addition, that everything the reader needed to read Les cantos was right there on the page, implying that even if you didn't speak or read the language, that seeing or hearing the words/characters could create the musicality and meaning that Pound felt, to at least a relatively strong extent, was universal.

Craig Montuori

Craig Montuori, Lover of politics, disruptive technologies, and systems of people

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T.S. Eliot wrote The Waste Land containing Greek, German, French, and English. One of my HS English teachers said her favorite college class was reading The Waste Land, reading all of the texts that it references, and then going back to read it again.


"Italian, too...

Eliot dedicated The Waste Land to Ezra Pound "to E.P. il miglior fabbro" (Italian for "the better craftsman").

Eliot couldn't get it published until Pound cut 2/3 of the original text and
reshaped it. I think I need to edit my answer and talk about this as well."

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--h/t Lucas J Meeker

Daniel Phelps

Daniel Phelps, former Freelance Journalist

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I would go so far as to say that the majority of canonical (historical) texts were written by persons who wrote in different languages, and so were also written in multiple languages. Indeed, hybridising many languages, famously Ben Jonson and John Milton and Francis Bacon and Descartes and Spinoza to name a few. Those of the early modern period when classical languages like Greek and Latin were literary mode. But also, as others have delineated, moderns like Beckett, Borges, Nabokov and the admirable Eliot and pretentious - also fraudulent - Pound. In an English context, learning French and sometimes German (or if a scholar Latin or Greek) as in the case of the Brontes or Walter Pater - was par for the course, so to speak.

Sramana Mitra

Sramana Mitra, Founder, One Million by One Million [1mby1m], first global virtual accelerator

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Sure. Amitav Ghosh has written in English, although his native tongue is Bengali. Many others, especially the Indian writers. 'Remains of the Day' is written in English by a Japanese author, Ishiguru.

Jesse Farmer

Jesse Farmer, Chef de l'ingénierie, Strive

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Jorge Luis Borges was a native Argentinian fluent in English, among several other languages. He was a prolific translator and author, writing in both Spanish and English.

For example, he translated Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince into Spanish when he was only nine years old.

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Soo J. Oh

Soo J. Oh, I read some.

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Ha Jin, whose native language is Chinese, writes in English.

Jhumpa Lahiri, whose first language is Bengali and wrote novels in English, recently wrote a book in Italian, albeit to mixed reviews. Review: Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘In Other Words,’ a Writer’s Headlong Immersion Into Italian

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