Thursday, September 22, 2011

Saturday event at Objectspace

[Sait Akkirman: Arts Diary]

The purpose of this post is not to draw attention to these beautiful images of the opening of Lugosi's Children by Sait Akkirman at (though I certainly recommend that you visit his amazing site).

Actually it's to advertise a Saturday event in the Objectspace public programme:

Dr Jenny Lawn & Dr Jack Ross
Saturday 24 September, 11 am - 12 noon.
A discussion of the gothic as a recurring theme in contemporary New Zealand film, literature and art.

Here's Jenny at the opening:

[Sait Akkirman: Jenny Lawn & Olivia]

& here's me on the far side of the table (glass in hand, as usual):

[Sait Akkirman: Jack & Shelley Norton]

We're planning to discuss Jenny's Gothic course, which she's been teaching at Massey Albany now for almost ten years; also the anthology she co-edited with Misha Kavka & Mary Paul, Gothic NZ: The Darker Side of Kiwi Culture (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2006):

After that we'll be throwing things open to the audience, I think: just why is this "darker side" of things so dominant in Kiwi culture? Is it simply that we see what we want to see? That we create this "trend" by imposing it on a lot of diverse and value-neutral materials? Or is there really some deeper fear or malaise within our society which manifests itself in this way?

Is it just that we lack a sense of the numinous and supernatural in our surface-obsessed official culture? As Jenny once put it, "Vampires don't wear shorts" ...

Is it, in the final analysis, a European fear of the depths and mysteries of the indigenous culture of these islands which masks itself under these Gothic tropes?

Come along, if you're curious to hear more. And be sure to leave a question for the Oracle when you do. It will be answered within seven days ...

[Sait Akkirman: The Oracles]

Monday, September 12, 2011

Berlin, 1938

[Berlin in Bildern]

Cool dinosaur skeleton, huh?

But - oh, whoopsie! Look down there on the left-hand side of the photo. What's that little flag doing there?

[Berlin in Bildern, ed. Dr. Robert von Wahlert. Berlin: Verlag Scherl, 1938.]

The other day I was snouting around the Hospice shop in Takapuna when I came across this book, Berlin in Bildern [Berlin in pictures]. It cost the princely sum of $2. Even so, I was about to put it back on the shelf when I noticed the date:

Die Reichshauptstadt ist in einen entscheidenden neuen Abschnitt ihrer Geschichte getreten. Nach dem Willen des Führers wird die vor einiger Zeit in Angriff genommene städtebauliche Neugestaltung ihr innerhalb weniger Jahre ein in wesentlichen Zügen durchaus anderes, ein schöneres und klareres Gesicht geben.

Das Berlin von heute aber, innerhalb kurzer Menschenalter in stürmischer Entwicklung zur Weltstadt emporgewachsen, ist Millionen zur Heimat geworden, in der sie wurzeln, wie nur ein Mensch in seiner Heimat wurzeln kann. Berlin ist darüber hinaus unserem Volke und der ganzen Welt als politischer Mittelpunkt Deutschlands ein wesentlicher Ausdruck deutschen Wesens und Deutscher Art.

Die räumlichen Ausmasse der Stadt und die Vielfalt der Umstände, die auf ihre bauliche, wirtschaftliche, verkehrspolitische, auf ihre gesamte kulturelle Entwicklung eingewirkt haben, machen es dem Besucher der Reichshauptstadt, ja schon dem Berliner selbst oft nicht leicht, ein einheitliches, übersichtliches Bild von ihr zu gewinnen.

Ich begrüsse es daher, wenn es in dem vorliegenden Buch in Wort und Bild unternommen wurde, eine Darstellung der Reichshauptstadt zu geben, so wie sie heute ist, und zugleich in ihrem Erícheinungsbild die Buntheit ihres Entstehens zu deuten.

Berlin, im Juni 1938

Oberbürgermeister und Stadtpräsident

It's quite difficult to make out the signature. A bit of research reveals, however, that it's that of Dr. Julius Lippert (1895–1956), Mayor of Berlin between 1937 and 1940.

Here he is again, collecting money for some patriotic purpose (the flowers they appear to be handing out suggests that it might be the German equivalent of Poppy Day):

["The capital of the Reich has entered a decisive new phase in its history. According to the Führer's will, some time ago a redevelopment project was launched, which has succeeded in creating in a few short years ... a better and clearer face for the city.

The Berlin of today, however, within a short lifetime ... has become home to millions. They are rooted here, as a man can only be rooted in his homeland.

I welcome, therefore, what has been done in this book in words and pictures to give an account of the imperial capital as it is today, and also to indicate in this beautifully rich way the variety of its structures.

Berlin, June 1938

Dr. Lippert

Mayor and State President"

Or words to that effect, at any rate ...

Yep, June 1938. After the Berlin Olympics (which Lippert helped to organise), after the March Anschluss with Austria, but before the Munich conference in September and (more to the point) the Kristallnacht pogrom on the night of 9th-10th November 9-10 - the so-called “Night of the Broken Glass” ...

It's a bit like that Hitchcock scenario about the two men meeting in the cafe and having a very boring conversation about nothing in particular. On and on they drone. There's nothing interesting about it at all.

Except that the cinema audience saw a man leaving a suitcase under the table shortly before they sat down, and we've been shown that there's a bomb in it.

The longer the excruciating chatter of the two men goes on, the greater grows our anticipation that the bomb will go off and kill them ...

The clock is ticking ... will they get up and go away in time? Who knows? All may yet be well, they could still be saved ...

But no real salvation is possible. As Hitchcock concludes, "The bomb must always go off." That's his first rule of narrative.

For "Hitchcock", read "History".

It's a pretty bizarre book, not that that's exactly surprising. On the one hand it's full of pastoral scenes of people enjoying themselves in parks and bars:

On the other hand there are a fair few hints of what's to come:

Better get used to rolling out those hoses, guys ...

And whose noble tomb is this, beside the floodlit dome?


Nice little Wagnerian echo there, a boat called the Rheingold ...

What a lovely, atmospheric city.


April 9
The Mayor of Berlin orders public schools not to admit Jewish children until further notice.


January 5
The Law on the Alteration of Family and Personal Names forbids Jews from changing their names.

April 22
The Decree against the Camouflage of Jewish Firms forbids changing the names of Jewish-owned businesses.

April 26
The Order for the Disclosure of Jewish Assets requires Jews to report all property in excess of 5,000 reichsmarks.

November 9-10
Kristallnacht (“The Night of Broken Glass”)

Yes, life is fantastic in the new Berlin. Just one or two little readjustments of the borders of the greater Reich to be made, and the future is assured ...

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]


    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


    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.


    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. Ka Mate Ka Ora, Issues 1-13 (2005-2014)
    [cover images: Richard Killeen

  59. (April 14, 2014) “Paul Celan & Leicester Kyle: The Zone & the Plateau.” Ka Mate Ka Ora 13 (2014): 54-71.

  60. 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)

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

  62. Jean Daive: Under the Dome (2009)

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

  64. John Felstiner: Paul Celan (1995)

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

  66. James K. Lyon: Paul Celan and Martin Heidegger (2006)

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

For further updates on this matter, see my subsequent post Collecting Paul Celan (2) (4/6/16).

Marc Chagall: Bridges over the Seine (1954)

Rest in peace