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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

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Friday 11 May 2007

Snow Part

Some really exciting news from Carcanet: Snow Part by Paul Celan, translated by Ian Fairley, is to be published by them later this month:


A few months before his death, Paul Celan described Schneepart as his 'strongest and boldest' book. A response to the turbulent events of 1968 - the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the attempted assassination of a student leader in Berlin - the collection is haunted by images of earlier violence and resistance in a dark European century: the hanging of anti-Hitler conspirators in 1944, the shooting of Rosa Luxembourg in 1919. These are poems of an Ice Age, their terrain the clarity of the limestone alp with its subterranean presence of caves and abysses.

Snow Part is the first translation of Schneepart to be published in English. Its seventy poems were written between December 1967 and October 1968, and published in 1971, a year after Celan's death. To this volume, Ian Fairley adds some twenty posthumously published poems closely linked to Schneepart.

Paul Celan was born in Romania in 1920. In 1938 he visited France as a medical student, returning home in 1939 to study Romance languages and literature. The family was deported in 1942; Celan's parents died in a concentration camp and Celan was conscripted into a series of labour camps until 1944. He escaped, survived a period in a labour camp and eventually settled in Paris where he taught and wrote. After the war he emigrated to Bucharest, where he worked as a translator. He escaped to Vienna in 1947, and settled in Paris in 1948, the same year in which his first collection of poetry was published. In 1958 Celan was awarded the Bremen Literature Prize, and in 1960 the Georg Büchner Prize. He committed suicide in Paris in April 1970.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Reader Comments

Friday 11 May 2007

Paul Sweeney says...

Cool.

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Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight,
(Under Lord Derby’s Scheme). I died in hell—
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And I was hobbling back; and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duck-boards: so I fell
Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light.

At sermon-time, while Squire is in his pew,
He gives my gilded name a thoughtful stare:
For, though low down upon the list, I’m there;
‘In proud and glorious memory’... that’s my due.
Two bleeding years I fought in France, for Squire:
I suffered anguish that he’s never guessed.
Once I came home on leave: and then went west...
What greater glory could a man desire?

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