The Last Hapsburg Poet: Paul Celan’s Love Poetry and the Limits of Language

The Center for the Humanities
The Graduate Center, City University of New York
Martin E. Segal Theatre
Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:30pm

Paul Celan is usually regarded as the quintessential Holocaust poet—a poet whose mature years were spent in France, but who wrote his poetry, not in French, but in his native German—a German he so resented as the language of his oppressors that he had to reinvent it. But what happens when we look at Celan’s poetic language, especially his love lyric, elliptical and oblique as it is, in the context of its actual history and geography? Celan was, after all, not German, but Austrian and received a classical German education, as authorized by the centralized k. & k. (kaiserlich und königlich)government of the Hapsburg Empire. This lecture will reconsider the language of his earlier love poetry, in the light of Celan’s astonishing correspondence with the Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann. Join distinguished literary critic Marjorie Perloff as she takes a fresh look at Celan’s poetic practice.

Cosponsored by the Henri Peyre French Institute.