Paul Celan

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $5.00
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 86%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (21) from $5.00   
  • New (6) from $22.92   
  • Used (15) from $5.00   


Paul Celan, Europe's most compelling postwar poet, was a German-speaking, East European Jew. His writing exposes and illumines the wounds that Nazi destructiveness left on language. John Felstiner's sensitive and accessible book is the first critical biography of Celan in any language. 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 The book also presents hitherto unpublished photos of the poet and his circle.

Drawing on interviews with Celan's family and friends and his personal library in Normandy and Paris, as well as voluminous German commentary, Felstiner tells the poet's gripping story: his birth in 1920 in Romania, the overnight loss of his parents in a Nazi deportation, his experience of forced labor and Soviet occupation during the war, and then his difficult exile in Paris. The life's work of Paul Celan emerges through readings of his poems within their personal and historical matrix. At the same time, Felstiner finds fresh insights by opening up the very process of translating Celan's poems.

To present this poetry and the strain of Jewishness it displays, Felstiner uncovers Celan's sources in the Bible and Judaic mysticism, his affinities with Kafka, Heine, Hölderlin, Rilke, and Nelly Sachs, his fascination with Heidegger and Buber, his piercing translations of Shakespeare, Dickinson, Mandelshtam, Apollinaire. First and last, Felstiner explores the achievement of a poet surviving in his mother tongue, the German language that had passed, Celan said, "through the thousand darknesses of deathbringing speech."

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Robert Hass
At once a biography of Celan, a study of his poems, and an account of the author’s struggle with translation.
New Yorker
This long-overdue study illuminates the rich biographical meaning behind much of Celan’s spare, enigmatic verse.
George Steiner
This volume has been long and justly awaited. It is the finest approach to the Celan-world so far available.
O. Magazine
John Felstiner's excellent biography is full...of the poems themselve, both in German and in Felstiner's own excellent English translations.
Library Journal
Celan (1920-70) is one of the great poets of this century. His world reputation rests on two aspects: he is a major German poet, and he is the preeminent poet of the destruction of European Jewish life. Felstiner's (English and Jewish studies, Stanford Univ.) literary biography is an engagement with Celan as a man and as a poet. His descriptions of the allusions and the translation problems of the great poems "Death Fugue," "The Vintagers," "Tenebrae," and "Stretto" are models of sympathetic reading. Celan's work as a translator (especially of Osip Mandelstam) and his friendship with Nelly Sachs are given the importance they are due. The difficult and hermetic late poems are worked through carefully. Celan was a successor to Hlderlin as a German poet, and as a Jewish poet he was influenced by Buber's ideas of redemption through history and language. Celan killed himself in 1970. Highly recommended for literature collections.-Gene Shaw, NYPL
New York
This long-overdue study illuminates the rich biographical meaning behind much of Celan's spare, enigmatic verse.
John Bayley
[An] admirably detailed and understanding study…sensible and straight forward…John Felstiner's observations and his excellent rendering of reverse…are an immense help to the reader who is trying to get to know the poet.
New York Review of Books
Richard Eder
Celan's splendor has been brought to life, and his silence brought to speech, by a book that is a labor not just of love but of passion.
Los Angeles Times
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300089226
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)