Saturday, September 03, 2011

Collecting Paul Celan


[Gisèle Celan-Lestrange: Etching]


Reading these letters doubled with poems is also to delimit the space where Celan habitually deployed his language, and which he referred to – not entirely seriously – as his “Celanie”: the Rue des Ecoles, the Rue de Lota, the Rue de Montevideo, the Rue de Longchamp, the Rue d’Ulm, the Rue Cabanis (Faculty Clinic, Saint-Anne), the Rue Tournefort and Avenue Émile Zola …

– Bertrand Badiou, “Notice Editoriale”. In Paul Celan & Gisèle Celan-Lestrange. Correspondance (1951-1970). 2 vols. Librairie du XXIe siècle (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2001): 2: 10.


Map of Bukovina
[Israel Chalfen (1979)]


I did some translations from Paul Celan, from his posthumously-published book Schneepart (1971), in about 2001 (You can find them online here).

Now, ten years later, I've re-entered the Celanian labyrinth (not that I ever really left it), and am working on some more translations (mostly from the poems included in his letters to his wife, the artist Gisèle Celan-Lestrange).

A lot of new books have appeared or been translated in these ten years. I did read most of what was available (in English) in 2001, when I made my first set of versions. Since then I've ranged a bit further afield - into the latest German editions, as well as the sumptuous 2-volume French edition of his correspondence with Gisèle.

The advantage of this is that he generally included vocabulary lists and comments on the poems he sent to her (her German was far from fluent) - sometimes complete literal French versions - which gives one a kind of authorial double-focus on each of the poems: very useful in the case of a poet so famously "difficult" as Celan.

The point of this post, though, is to make my own list of the most useful materials by and about Celan available at present to any reasonably enterprising English-speaking reader (it's worth going to this website, by the way, to hear the man himself reciting "Todesfuge").

There are certainly some omissions from the list: I haven't recorded all the translations of the poetry - only the ones I myself have found useful (some of the older versions are now, in fact, out of print and hard to find). Nor have I been at all exhaustive in my listing of secondary materials.

For what it's worth, though, here's my working bibliography of Celan materials:


Paul Antschel [Paul Celan]
(1920-1970)



    [Texts:]


    [Paul Celan: Gesammelte Werke]

  1. Celan, Paul. Gesammelte Werke in fünf Bänden. Erster Band - Gedichte I: Mohn und Gedächtnis; Von Schwelle zu Schwelle; Sprachgitter; Die Niemandsrose. 1952, 1955, 1959, 1963. Ed. Beda Allemann & Stefan Reichert. 1983. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Verlag, 1986.

  2. Celan, Paul. Gesammelte Werke in fünf Bänden. Zweiter Band - Gedichte II: Atemwende; Fadensonnen; Lichtzwang; Schneepart. 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971. Ed. Beda Allemann & Stefan Reichert. 1983. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Verlag, 1986.

  3. Celan, Paul. Gesammelte Werke in fünf Bänden. Dritter Band - Gedichte III: Der Sand aus den Urnen; Zeitgehöft / Prosa /Reden. 1948, 1976. Ed. Beda Allemann & Stefan Reichert. 1983. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Verlag, 1986.

  4. Celan, Paul. Gesammelte Werke in fünf Bänden. Vierter Band: Übertragungen I - Zweisprachig. Ed. Beda Allemann & Stefan Reichert. 1983. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Verlag, 1986.

  5. Celan, Paul. Gesammelte Werke in fünf Bänden. Fünfter Band: Übertragungen II - Zweisprachig. Ed. Beda Allemann & Stefan Reichert. 1983. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Verlag, 1986.

  6. This is the standard German edition of Celan's works (now expanded to seven volumes, with the addition of some juvenilia and manuscript materials).


    [Paul Celan: Die Gedichte]

  7. Celan, Paul. Die Gedichte: Kommentierte Gesamtausgabe in einem Band. Ed. Barbara Weidemann. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2003.

  8. The best edition of the complete poetry available at present.


    [Paul Celan: Gesammelte Werke]




    [Correspondence:]


    [Paul Celan & Gisèle Celan-Lestrange: Correspondence]

  9. Celan, Paul, & Gisèle Celan-Lestrange. Correspondance (1951-1970), avec un choix de letters de Paul Celan à son fils Eric. I – Lettres. Ed. Bertrand Badiou & Eric Celan. La Librairie du XXIe siècle. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2001.

  10. Celan, Paul, & Gisèle Celan-Lestrange. Correspondance (1951-1970), avec un choix de letters de Paul Celan à son fils Eric. II – Commentaires et Illustrations. Ed. Bertrand Badiou & Eric Celan. La Librairie du XXIe siècle. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2001.

  11. An indispensable work for true Celan fans. It's also available in German, but not (as yet) in English.


    [Paul Celan & Nelly Sachs: Correspondence]

  12. Celan, Paul, & Nelly Sachs. Correspondence. Ed. Barbara Wiedemann. 1993. Trans. Christopher Clark. Introduction by John Felstiner. Riverdale-on-Hudson, New York: The Sheep Meadow Press, 1995.

  13. An important correspondence with the Nobel-prize winning poet Nelly Sachs.


    [Paul Celan & Ilana Shmueli: Correspondence]

  14. Gillespie, Susan H., trans. The Correspondence of Paul Celan & Ilana Shmueli. 2004. Preface by John Fesltiner. Introduction by Norman Manea. Afterword by Ilana Shmueli. Conversation between Norman Manea & Ilana Shmueli. Riverdale-on-Hudson, New York: The Sheep Meadow Press, 2010.

  15. Letters to his last love, whom he first knew as a girl in Romania, then met again long after the war in Israel.


    [Paul Celan & Ingeborg Bachmann: Correspondence]

  16. Bachmann, Ingeborg, & Paul Celan. Correspondence: With the Correspondence between Paul Celan and Max Frisch, and between Ingeborg Bachmann and Gisèle Celan-Lestrange. Ed. Bertrand Badiou, Hans Höller, Andrea Stoll & Barbara Weidemann. 2008. Trans. Wieland Hoban. The German List. London: Seagull Books, 2010.

  17. Ingeborg Bachmann, herself an important German poet and fiction-writer, was Celan's lover in the late 40s and again (for a time) in the early sixties.





    [Translations:]


    [Paul Celan: Selected Poems (1972)]

  18. Celan, Paul. Selected Poems. Trans. Michael Hamburger & Christopher Middleton. 1962 & 1967. Introduction by Michael Hamburger. Penguin Modern European Poets. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972.

  19. This is the Celan volume in that wonderful series, the Penguin Modern European Poets. Middleton only supplied a couple of versions to what is essentially the first draft of Hamburger's larger translation project.


    [Paul Celan: Collected Prose]

  20. Celan, Paul. Collected Prose. Trans. Rosmarie Waldrop. 1986. Fyfield Books. Manchester: Carcanet Press Limited, 2003.

  21. Still a very useful book, often reprinted.


    [Paul Celan: Selected Poems]

  22. Celan, Paul. Selected Poems. Trans. Michael Hamburger. 1988. Penguin International Poets. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1990.

  23. A beautiful and poetic version, frequently revised and reprinted.


  24. Celan, Paul. Selected Poems and Prose. Trans. John Felstiner. New York & London: W. W. Norton, 2001.

  25. The scrupulousness of Felstiner's scholarshop makes this an indispensable volume for Celanians.


    [Paul Celan: Romanian Poems]

  26. Celan, Paul. Romanian Poems. Trans. Julian Semilian & Sanda Agdidi. Green Integer, 81. København & Los Angeles: Green Integer Books, 2003.

  27. Rather weird surrealist prose poems, written by Celan in Romanian immediately after the war. Of interest mainly because they show that German was not the only language in which he could write creatively.


    [Paul Celan: Selections]

  28. Celan, Paul. Selections. Ed. Pierre Joris. Trans. Pierre Joris & Jerome Rothenberg. Poets for the Millennium, 3. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press / London: University of California Press, Ltd., 2005.

  29. A well-judged selection of Celan materials, imaginatively edited and beautifully translated. Perhaps the best single-volume introduction to his work.


    [Paul Celan: The Meridian]

  30. Celan, Paul. The Meridian: Final Version - Drafts - Materials. Ed. Bernhard Böschenstein & Heino Schmull, with Michael Schwarzkopf & Christiane Wittkop. 1999. Trans. Pierre Joris. Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2011.

  31. I have this on order but haven't seen it yet: twenty pages of text to 200 pages of notes and false starts. Just what the Doctor ordered!


  32. Celan, Paul. From Threshold to Threshold. ['Von Schwelle zu Schwelle', 1955]. Trans. David Young. Grosse Point Farms, Michigan: Marick Press, 2010.

  33. Some translators have started to provide us with complete dual-text versions of each of his major books - a trend which I for one certainly welcome. This is the first of three promised middle-period Celan books to be translated by David Young.


    [Paul Celan: Breathturn]

  34. Celan, Paul. Breathturn. ['Atemwende', 1967]. Trans. Pierre Joris. Sun & Moon Classics, 74. Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1995.

  35. Joris has a good claim to be considered the most subtle living interpreter of Celan's poetry and thought. This is the first of a trilogy of versions of his last three books.


    [Paul Celan: Threadsuns]

  36. Celan, Paul. Threadsuns. ['Fadensonnen', 1968]. Trans. Pierre Joris. Sun & Moon Classics, 122. Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 2000.


  37. [Paul Celan: Fathomsuns]

  38. Celan, Paul. Fathomsuns / Fadensonnen and Benighted / Eingedunkelt. 1968. Trans. Ian Fairley. Manchester: Carcanet Press Limited, 2001.

  39. It's nice to have Ian Fairley's complete translation of Fadensonnen to set beside Pierre Joris's. I'd have to award the palm to Joris, but that's not to say that Fairley's doesn't have considerable merits also (as well as including the strange "abandoned sequence" Eingedunkelt).


    [Paul Celan: Lightduress]

  40. Celan, Paul. Lightduress. ['Lichtzwang', 1970]. Trans. Pierre Joris. Green Integer, 113. København & Los Angeles: Green Integer Books, 2005.


  41. [Paul Celan: Snow Part]

  42. Celan, Paul. Snow Part / Schneepart. 1971. Trans. Ian Fairley. Riverdale-on-Hudson, New York: The Sheep Meadow Press, 2007.

  43. This is Fairley's second volume of Celan translations, a complete version of his posthumously-published last book Schneepart.





    [Jack Ross:]

    This might seem vainglorious, but - after all - it is my blog. I've included here a list of my published work to date (translations, versions and critical essays) about Celan. There's quite a bit more to come, but this is where I am at present:


    [Jack Ross: The Britney Suite]

  44. (May 1, 2001) The Britney Suite, by Paul Celan, Wendy Nu & Jack Ross. Auckland: Perdrix Press, 2001. [25 copies (20 numbered)]
    • [Paul Celan:] SCHNEEPART, gebäumt, bis zuletzt … (22/1/68)
    • Snowpart (24/10-30/11/2000)
    • [Paul Celan:] ERZFLITTER, tief im … (20/7/68)
    • Orespark (24/10-30/11/2000)
    • [Paul Celan:] KALK-KROKUS, im … (24/8/68)
    • Chalk-Crocus (24/10-28/11/2000)
    • [Paul Celan:] DAS GEDUNKELTE Splitterecho … (5/9/68)
    • Dark (24/10-28/11/2000)
    • [Paul Celan:] BEIDHÄNDIGE Frühe … (29/9/69)
    • Both-Handed (24/10-28/11/2000)



  45. (August 17, 2006) “Coromandel" (after Paul Celan, 'Corona').


  46. [Percutio 1 (2006), ed. Bill Direen
    [front cover image: Sandra Bianciardi]

  47. (September 12, 2006) “Poems from Schneepart: Translations into English.” Percutio 1 (2006): 60-62.
    • Snowpart (24/10-30/11/2000)
    • Orespark (24/10-30/11/2000)
    • Chalk-Crocus (24/10-28/11/2000)
    • Dark (24/10-28/11/2000)
    • Both-Handed (24/10-28/11/2000)


  48. [Albrecht Durer, Melancholia II]

  49. (March 23, 2007) “Meeting Paul Celan." Poetics of Exile conference, Auckland University (July 2003)


  50. (August 24, 2010) “Celanie.” All Together Now: A Digital Bridge for Auckland and Sydney / Kia Kotahi Rā: He Arawhata Ipurangi mō Tamaki Makau Rau me Poihākena (March-September 2010). [visited 25/8/10]
    • Leave [24/6/67] (8/2-25/4/10)


  51. [brief 41 (2010), ed. Richard von Sturmer]

  52. (December 31, 2010) “Celanie: 5 Versions from Paul Celan.” brief 41 (2010): 54-59.
    • Maïa [7/1/52] (9/3-11/4/10)
    • Islandward [22/6/54] (5/3-11/4/10)
    • Matter of Britain [13/8/57] (9/3-29/4/10)
    • Heart (for René Char) [6/1/60] (9/3-11/4/10)
    • Kew Gardens [6/4/69] (11/3-25/4/10)


  53. (July 12, 2011) “The Twenty-Year Masterclass: Paul Celan’s Correspondence with Gisèle Celan-Lestrange (1951-1970)." Literature and Translation conference, Monash University, Melbourne (11-12 July 2011)


  54. (September 24, 2012) “Channeling Paul Celan." Rabbit 5 - The RARE Issue (Winter 2012): 118-31.
    • Matter of Britain [13/8/57] (9/3-29/4/10)


  55. (November 25, 2012) “Interpreting Paul Celan." brief 46 - The Survival Issue (2012).
    • What's stitched [10/1/68] (28/1-14/9/11)



  56. [Celanie: Poems & Drawings after Paul Celan (2012)
    [cover image: Emma Smith / Cover design: Ellen Portch]

  57. (November 25, 2012) Celanie: Poems & Drawings after Paul Celan. Poems by Jack Ross & Drawings by Emma Smith. Introduction by Jack Ross. Afterword by Bronwyn Lloyd. ISBN: 978-0-473-22484-4. Pania Samplers, 3. Auckland: Pania Press, 2012. 168 pp.


  58. [Jack Ross: The Britney Suite (2003)
    Front cover image: Gabriel White]




    [Secondary Texts:]

    These are mainly biographical rather than critical works. There are just too many for me to list in the latter category. Felstiner's is the major biography still, but Israel Chalfen is necessary too for the earlier period:


    [Israel Chalfen: Paul Celan: A Biography of His Youth (1979)]

  59. Chalfen, Israel. Paul Celan: A Biography of His Youth. 1979. Trans. Maximilian Bleyleben. Introduction by John Felstiner. New York: Persea Books, 1991.


  60. [Jean Daive: Under the Dome (2009)]

  61. Daive, Jean. Under the Dome: Walks With Paul Celan. 1996. Trans. Rosmarie Waldrop. Série d'écriture, 22. Anyart, Providence: Burning Deck Press, 2009.


  62. [John Felstiner: Paul Celan (1995)]

  63. Felstiner, John. Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.


  64. [James K. Lyon: Paul Celan and Martin Heidegger (2006)]

  65. Lyon, James K. Paul Celan and Martin Heidegger: An Unresolved Conversation, 1951-1970. Baltimore, MA: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006.


[Marc Chagall: Bridges over the Seine (1954)]

Rest in peace


6 comments:

Pierre joris said...

looking forward to hear what you have to say about the big MERIDIAN book (took me 7 years to translate it...). Glad to have your selection of Celaniana to send people to. & thanks for the good words re my translations. Wish you could be at the performance presentation “Paul Celan —Pierre Joris : Celebrating 45 Years of Translation & Reflection” I'll be giving at harvard in November, backed by Nicole Peyrafitte's audio-visual collages.

Jack Ross said...

I certainly will put up some comments on Meridian when it arrives.

Of course this is a very pruned-down selection of Celaniana, but it's nice to be able to put on record how much I admire your trilogy of complete Celan books: the closest anyone has come in English to conveying the effect of his work in the original, I firmly believe.

That one volume selection is also great, though, I think. I wouldn't have believed it possible to include so much that's crucial and leave out so little in such a small book.

Best of luck for a fantastic celebration at Harvard! I'll be there in spirit, at least (hopefully there may be at least one other New Zealander there, the poet and anthropologist Michael Jackson, who's based in Cambridge ....)

Corey Wakeling said...

Thank you for this Jack, it's most helpful, precisely what I'd tried to extract from you on the day of the Lit & Translation conference. Many apologies!

Jack Ross said...

Not at all, Corey - think of it as a little thank you for your help with the intricacies of navigating around Melbourne (as well as putting up with my beating your ear on a number of topics simultaneously ...)

Richard said...

Fascinating Jack. I have always had difficulty "engaging" with Celan since Scott Hamilton "introduced me" to him and Trakl etc (Trakl I love). But your posts are always informative and isnpirng so I will look again.

Often we see things in different poets or writers at different times in our lives.

I had read of Nelly Sachs for example but had forgotten or didn't know who she was..I happen to have one of those European poet books with some of her work.

Pierre Joris also co-edited that two volume work "Poems for the Millennium" which I just had to buy from the AU book shop. (Celan and much much more is in there).

I must search out the Joris books...regards.

silence said...

Paul Celan in Silence (Suicidios Ejemplares)
http://silence-silencers.blogspot.com