Reading Paul Celan

Ruth Franklin at The New Yorker:

From his iconic “Deathfugue,” one of the first poems published about the Nazi camps and now recognized as a benchmark of twentieth-century European poetry, to cryptic later works such as the poem above, all of Celan’s poetry is elliptical, ambiguous, resisting easy interpretation. Perhaps for this reason, it has been singularly compelling to critics and translators, who often speak of Celan’s work in quasi-religious terms. Felstiner said that, when he first encountered the poems, he knew he’d have to immerse himself in them “before doing anything else.” Pierre Joris, in the introduction to “Memory Rose Into Threshold Speech” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), his new translation of Celan’s first four published books, writes that hearing Celan’s poetry read aloud, at the age of fifteen, set him on a path that he followed for fifty years.

more here.

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