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Fathomsuns and Benighted

Paul Celan

Translated by Ian Fairley

Cover Picture of Fathomsuns and Benighted
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Categories: 20th Century, German
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (220 pages)
(Pub. Feb 2001)
£19.99 £17.99
  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • 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.
    Paul Celan
    Paul Celan (1920–1970) was born Paul Antschel into a Jewish family in Bukovina, a German enclave in Romania which was destroyed by the Nazis. His parents were taken to a concentration camp in 1942, and did not return; Celan managed to escape deportation and to survive. After settling in Paris in ... read more
    Ian Fairley
    Ian Fairley is a translator of German. He teaches in the English Department at the University of Leeds. ... read more
    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.'
    Daily Telegraph
    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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Cover of Correspondence
Correspondence Paul Celan and Nelly Sachs,
Edited by Barbara Wiedemann,
Translated by Christopher Clark
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