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Fathomsuns and Benighted
Translated by Ian Fairley
Categories: 20th Century, German
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (220 pages)
(Pub. Feb 2001)
Paul Celan is the greatest German-language poet after Rilke. His 'intolerable wrestle with words and meanings' evolved an inimitable originality. He dominates literature in the aftermath of the Holocaust by means of his attempt to redeem the human tongue from its terrible history.
Fathomsuns, published in 1968, is his longest collection and one of his most ambitious. Benighted is a sequence of 11 poems. It appeared in an anthology of 'abandoned works' by various authors published by Suhrkamp Verlag in 1968. Translated here in full for the first time, these works show Celan at his most provocative and unassimilable.
For Celan, writing such as this 'names and places, attempts to measure the range of the given and the possible'. The language, twisted, broken and restored, engages the world urgently; how it reckons with past and present is imperatively urgent. After years of refinement Ian Fairley's award-winning translations bring the English reader as close as he is likely to come to these compact, mighty acts of resistance, provocation and lament.
Awards won by Paul Celan Winner, 1990 European Poetry Translation Prize (Poems of Paul Celan)
'Fairley's translations are challenging and inventive, prepared to take risks and above all to convey the uncompromising demands of the originals: his versions also show an impressive sensitivity to the rhythms and sound effects of the German.'
Poetry Review 'Fairley's endlessly careful and brilliantly resourceful translations...he never fails to address himself to the music of the originals.'
Praise for Paul Celan 'The correspondence includes lovely Sachs poems and interesting accounts of their meeting and of contact with other prominent writers of the time. The introduction and afterword are indispensable, as is the entire book.'
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