Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew

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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, with 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 The book also presents hitherto unpublished photos of the poet and his ...
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Overview

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, with 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 The book also presents hitherto unpublished photos of the poet and his circle.
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Editorial Reviews

George Steiner
This volume has been long and justly awaited. It is the finest approach to the Celan-world so far available.
New Yorker
This long-overdue study illuminates the rich biographical meaning behind much of Celan’s spare, enigmatic verse.
O. Magazine
John Felstiner's excellent biography is full...of the poems themselve, both in German and in Felstiner's own excellent English translations.
Robert Hass
At once a biography of Celan, a study of his poems, and an account of the author’s struggle with translation.
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
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
New York
This long-overdue study illuminates the rich biographical meaning behind much of Celan's spare, enigmatic verse.
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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300060683
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 4/26/1995
  • Pages: 366
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.25 (d)

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