DI have never followed the path of adaptation, I have never split myself into author and private person ”, says Paul Celan's letter letter to Romanian acquaintance Nina Cassian, printed for the first time in April 1962, at the high or rather low point of the tragic conflict between the most important German-speaking poet of the twentieth century and a large part of the literary business. The insistence on integrity may explain why Celan, highly sensitive to actual or supposed overtones, even considered stylistic criticism as an attack on his person and Jewish identity: Right and left had “got together. , to hate me, ”he continues. However, the first statement quoted is correct: this author's work and biography, complex poetry and complex personality are particularly closely intertwined. This can be hermetic to the outside, but it is transparent to one another.
Perhaps this is the reason for the always enormous interest in the many, emotionally extremely disparate letters from the poet. Although these are often philologically significant and stylistically pointed, they are always real, risky expressions of life, not literary prose under the false flag. Most of the correspondence is now in book form. What Barbara Wiedemann, a profound connoisseur of Celan's oeuvre and life, has now published is a novelty, namely the fascinating attempt to capture the “whole Celan” through his letters. The voluminous, excellently accurate and understandably commented edition begins with the thirteen-year-old's letter to his Aunt Minna and extends to the shattering farewell letter of Ilana Shmueli, who is increasingly hopeless against the obscuration of thoughts, and in which the recipient is asked to keep calm in case of missing letters. Only a postal strike is to blame. Eight days later, on April 20, 1970, Celan committed suicide.
A letter edition over three and a half decades is necessarily a selection, but it is far more than a best-of of the present editions, if only because almost half of the 691 letters are first prints. The information previously only (or not at all) available in archives significantly extends the material base of Celan philology. However, it is just as important that contexts of side by side become visible only in such a synopsis. When you see the same Celan lovingly writing to his wife and child, enthusiastically initiating translations, celebrating the death of the "mustache" (Stalin), answering questions frankly from schoolchildren, trimming proofreading, swarming up friends, writing wonderful consolation letters, bitterly lurking and blindly angry the majority German intellectuals were able to accuse Hitler of doing so – much of it at the same time – one suspects something of the person's broken up.
. (tagsToTranslate) Paul Celan (t) Barbara Wiedemann (t) Gisèle Lestrange (t) Nina Cassian (t) Ruth Kraft (t) Ilana Shmueli (t) Ingeborg Bachmann