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Poems of Paul Celanby Michael Hamburger
Synopses & Reviews
One of the greatest poets to ever write in German and among the most indispensable writers of the twentieth century in any language, Paul Celan's poems "embody a conviction that the truth of what has been broken and torn must be told with a jagged grace" (Robert Pinsky, The New Republic). The essential poet of the Holocaust-a Jewish survivor writing in the language of his mortal enemy-Celan spent his creative life prodding language and disrupting syntax. His exquisitely distilled poems are manifestations of a primal agitation-each one a cry of human anguish in the face of incomprehensible suffering.
For more than thirty years, the peerless translations of Michael Hamburger have been English speakers' truest access to Celan. This crowning Celan-Hamburger edition-bilingual with facing English-German versions, revised and expanded to provide the full spectrum of Celan's verse-contains one hundred and seventy-two poems, fourteen of them previously unavailable. Among the additions is the remarkable threnody "Wolf's-Bean," accompanied by a Translator's Note on the poem.
Poems of Paul Celan concludes with the compelling essay, "On Translating Celan," in which Hamburger details his relationship with Celan's work and with Celan himself. Through the essay, and of course through the poems, this book offers readers an immersion into the troubled genius of this crucial poet.
"Michael Hamburger's starkly graceful selected translations [of Paul Celan]...remain the best available." Publishers Weekly, October 16, 2000
"This new edition of Michael Hamburger's remarkable translations of Celan's poems provides not only a revised and expanded selection of this difficult poet's work but an introduction, postscript and notes that illuminate the arduous and exhilarating task of rendering Celan into English from the German....Celan's poems defy description. They require a searching translator to find, in English, the words that are nearly "equivalent" to those of his haunted poems. Hamburger is that translator." Carol Muske-Dukes, Los Angeles Times
Paul Celan is one the twentieth century's most essential poets, and twenty-two years after its publication, Poems of Paul Celan continues to be the single truest access for English-speakers to this poet's work. This new edition adds ten more poems and a significant essay, "On Translating Celan" by Michael Hamburger.
About the Author
Paul Celan was born into a Jewish family in Romania in 1920. Although neither of his parents survived the Holocaust, Celan managed to escape to France (after eighteen months in a labor camp) where he spent his most productive years, writing and translating poetry. He remained in Paris, garnering international acclaim for his writing, until his death by suicide in 1970.
Michael Hamburger is a distinguished poet, critic, and translator. For translations of Paul Celan's poetry contained in this book, he was awarded the Schlegel-Tieck Prize in 1981; in 1986, he received the Goethe medal for his services to German literature. He is the author of scores of books, including the recent Collected Poems 1941-1994, Intersections: Shorter Poems 1994-2000, and Philip Larkin: A Retrospect; and, forthcoming, From a Diary of Non-Events (a book-length poem), and a translation of W. G. Sebald's After Nature. He lives in Saxmundham, Suffolk, England.
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