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Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew (Yale Nota Bene) (1995)

av John Felstiner

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1701127,160 (4.27)4
Paul Celan was a German-speaking, East European Jew. His writing exposes and illumines the wounds that Nazi destructiveness left on language. John Felstiner's book is a critical biography of Celan. It offers new translations of well-known and little-known poems including a chapter on Celan's famous Deathfugue - plus his speeches, prose fiction and letters. The book also presents photos of the poet and his circle.… (mer)
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» Se även 4 omnämnanden

To my great regret I came to the poetry (and the life story behind so much of it) of Paul Celan somewhat late in life, unpardonably late, even. But from the moment I did I knew that this was not just the Poet of the Holocaust - he was an unparalled poetic genius in the second half of he last century. This is a personal and totally biased opinion, so go read the poems, surely they speak for themselves. Yes they do.

But in this book we have contextualization, translations almost dissected (mostly in the German to English angle) and biographical notes along the way.

Paul Celan was himself a polyglot and a prolific translator. Born in a Romania that has changed borders to a jewish family that did not escape the fate of most others in Eastern Europe, eventually a French citizen, one of the great poets and shapers of the German language of all times.

His legacy is tremendous. His suicide perhaps a powerful statement of guilt or alienation - perhaps something entirely different that need not be dwelt on to enjoy the work.
Though "enjoy" seems to me to be an entirely personal approach.
He leads us to a labyrinth. To the depths of human cruelty. But he can see that all human passions have great surviving power.
Maybe not just after witnessing and enduring their extremes can one hope to reconcile itself with the humanity and the passions within.

The book is extraordinarily well-researched and written in a style I'd call 'academic but unassuming'. It will leave you with a longing to read more from Celan. That alone would justify its writing, apart from all its many merits.
  kieren_valente | Oct 23, 2006 |
John Felstiner’s book is of inestimable value to anyone wanting to read Celan with understanding. It provides a sort of triple deal, giving a rudimentary narrative of the life, and combining this with translations and brilliant readings of maybe four or five dozen poems, the two acceptance speeches of 1958 (the City of Bremen Literature Prize) and 1960 (the Georg Büchner Prize), and the 1959 prose piece ‘Conversation in the Mountains’. When Felstiner ends: ‘From first to last his poems stand’ – a crucial verb in Celan – and follows that with four pages of lines from Celan’s poems, with their dates, from 1938 to 1970, it is like getting a dramatis personae; and when the reader feels, at each line or fragment, a pang of recognition, orientation and emotion, it is a tribute to what Felstiner has achieved in mediating and explicating these urgent and often enigmatic writings.

[...] More striking, and more valuable than his translations, are the readings (of the necessary microscopic acuity) to which Felstiner subjects Celan’s poems. It is here that Felstiner’s book becomes incomparably, almost unimaginably – and finally suspiciously, even counter-productively – richer than reading someone’s English versions of the poems, or even the originals unassisted.
 

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For Alek and Sarah

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for the victims of "that which happened," 1933-1945
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Wikipedia på engelska (1)

Paul Celan was a German-speaking, East European Jew. His writing exposes and illumines the wounds that Nazi destructiveness left on language. John Felstiner's book is a critical biography of Celan. It offers new translations of well-known and little-known poems including a chapter on Celan's famous Deathfugue - plus his speeches, prose fiction and letters. The book also presents photos of the poet and his circle.

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Yale University Press

2 utgåvor av den här boken publicerades av Yale University Press.

Utgåvor: 0300089228, 0300063873

 

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