Yet another example of a badly translated book is added to the Italian repetoire.
This time the book in question is a novel written by a young woman who works in the Neuroscience department at Harvard. As a result of her own direct clinical experience, she has published at her own cost a book that has become a best-seller in a short space of time called ‘Still Alice’.
The first person of the narrative is a famous academic who finds suddenly finds herself having to recoup her life because she is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Once explained like this, we can imagine that the story would be sad and depressing, which is the underlying message that the Italian title ‘Losing yourself’ suggests.
Alzheimer’s? Is it not this disease that makes you ‘lose’ yourself, your nature as a person and causes widespread panic in your family? With rare lightness and as much rare profundity Lisa Genova tells us another story that which means Alice is ‘still Alice’, a person that has lost some capabilities but has gained some more, a person who, as the protagonist states in a moving speech in front of other sufferers and their relatives, she is still a woman, a mother, a wife.
The nucleus of the story, that is a sum of some patient characteristics noted by the author, she is ready to tell us about an illness that instils fear as a phase of life that are simply characteristics different to what we are used to. Nothing is evidently lost in this Italian translation of the text but the title tells us a different story, the story of a person ‘lost’ in dementia. Reinforcing the fear shared by everyone and reinforcing the general image of dementia sufferers present in modern society. Alzheimer sufferers become in time different people to who we are used to. Also for their relatives and friends, it is not easy to re-adapt their own relational perception on the base of different co-ordinates. An American Supreme Court Judge resigned to be near to her ill husband, who with time did not recognise her or their family and fell in love with another woman who he began speaking with about the great love they shared thinking that his wife was just a friend who came to visit him. The judge also told, in a difficult interview, how it was difficult to change her role in her husband’s life, explaining that the memory of their love had been the stimulus for him to move forward. The different types of dementia are increasing, probably also thanks to the lengthening of life and the possibility of chronicling many pathologies.
We must therefore re-learn to live in this new reality. Without deluding ourselves that it is simple, but at least trying not to increase fear around a subject that already incites fear.