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Essential to understand the great Poet

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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.

Added by senovalente
11 years ago on 23 October 2006 09:40

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