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Definition: Celan, Paul from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Romanian-born Jewish poet. He survived a Nazi labour camp and settled in Paris, France, in 1948, where he worked as a translator. Considered outstanding by many, his work slowly gained recognition as a difficult but valid new statement in German poetry. In 1958 he was awarded the Bremen Prize, and in 1960, the George Buechner Prize. His Death Fugue and The Straightening are seen as classic expressions of the Jewish experience during the Nazi persecution. Celan was born in Bukovina, Romania.


Summary Article: Celan, Paul
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(pôl sālŏn), pseud. of Paul Antschel änt'shschwa;l, 1920–70, Romanian-French poet. Although he spent his early years in Romania and his later years in France, Celan wrote in German and is widely considered the greatest postwar poet in Europe. A Jew, who lost both parents in a Nazi camp, he composed works that focus on the moral horror of the Holocaust and the destruction of the world as he knew it, as in his most famous poem, "Deathfugue." Celan was strongly influenced by Friedrich Hölderlin, Rainer Maria Rilke, Georg Trakl, and Osip Mandelstam. Frequently dissonant and freighted with pain, his poems are richly allusive and complicated. Celan was also a masterful translator of such authors as Shakespeare, Valéry, and Dickinson. He lived in Paris from 1948 until his suicide by drowning.

  • See the collection of his critical essays, ed. by A. Fioretos (1993);.
  • translations of his work by J. Neugroschel (1971), M. Hamburger (1988), N. Popov and H. McHugh (2000), J. Felstiner (2001), and P. Joris (2001);.
  • biography by I. Chalfen (1979;.
  • tr. 1991);.
  • Feltsiner, J., Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew (1995).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

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