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.
Speaker Marjorie Perloff is a poetry scholar and critic who teaches courses and writes on twentieth and now twenty-first century poetry and poetics, both Anglo-American and from a Comparatist perspective, as well as on intermedia and the visual arts. She is Professor Emerita of English at Stanford University and Florence R. Scott Professor of English Emerita at the University of Southern California. She is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.