Howls from a thicket of blood
Times Higher Education
April 10th 1998.
Ariel Dorfman has spent his life fleeing tyrants. Here he tells Jennifer Wallace how the guilt of survival and his nomadic life have inspired his writing.
“border crossings, globalisation, hybridisation, the discovery of the places in between and the meeting places – and I like that a lot because I am one and I’m in fact probably the embodiment of all those things”Ariel Dorfman
Yet despite appearances and his best efforts, Dorfman can never really feel at home anywhere. Born in Argentina in 1942, brought up until the age of 12 in New York, expelled during the McCarthy purges with his family to Chile and then sent into exile from Chile for his own safety after General Pinochet’s coup in 1973, he is, as he admits, the “embodiment” of the hybrid. The latest interest in the academy, he says, is “border crossings, globalisation, hybridisation, the discovery of the places in between and the meeting places – and I like that a lot because I am one and I’m in fact probably the embodiment of all those things.” Even before his frequent border crossings began, his parents had made global journeys of their own. His mother, originally Yiddish-speaking, fled aged three the threat of violent pogroms in what is now Moldova; his father emigrated to Argentina from the post-revolution civil war in Odessa, Ukraine, with his parents who spoke Russian, English, French and German. Their courtship was conducted in Spanish, and their life in Argentina lasted until his communist father fell foul of the new Peron-backed military regime in 1943 and they escaped to America.
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