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150 SHOFAR Summer 1996 Vol. 14, No.4 wrote The Castle he had himself given up believing in assimilation as a possibility. Ifthere is a shortcoming to the present study, it is the abruptness with which it ends. One would have wished for a concluding chapter tying the rich strands of Heidsieck's investigation together. There is an Appendix of German-language Sources at the back of the book in addition to the helpful footnotes that are happily placed at the bottom of each page. Ultimately, this study presents the reader with a less emphasized side of the great modern writer. In that regard, it is a welcome addition to the existing body of Kafka criticism and will take its place as a valuable source for future research. Ruth V. Gross Department of Foreign languages University of Texas, Arlington Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew, byJohn Felstiner.ยท New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995. 363 pp. $30.00. This is a book about the finest German-language lyric poet since World War Two. Every word in Felstiner's title is freighted with significance . The book beautifully weaves together compositional histories of individual poems and Celan's entire reuvre, cultural history, and biography. In doing so, it offers the profile of a stranded genius. The stranded subject is, of course, the Holocaust survivor-not of a generic Shoah but of his own particularly wrenching youth and early adulthood in the Bukovinan city of Czernowitz, also known as "little Vienna." Czernowitz was loyal to its Austro-Hungarian legacy; felt the influence of Zionism, Communism, Nazism, and Romanian and Ukrainian antisemitism; was occupied by the Russians; nazified by the Germans; reoccupied by the Russians; and stalinized after the War. Celan's strangely powerful words force us to engage his several worlds, the one that was violently taken from him, the murderous world he was thrown into, and the better worlds he had hoped for and never really found. Growing up with cultured friends, a father's ardent Zionism, and a mother's love for German poetry, and losing his parents, relatives, and artist friends through transportation and extermination marked Celan for life. He also wielded a shovel in several labor camps, escaped the RussianjRomanian pogrom in 1948 by finding his way to Vienna and then to Paris, and made an exile's home in Paris until his death by suicide in 1970. His personal history and crises are of their own Book Reviews 151 kind. Thus even those who identify closely with him cannot finally grasp remarks by him such as the following: "Reachable, near and not lost, there remained amid the losses this one thing: language.... In this language I have sought, during those years and the years since then, to write poems: so as to speak, to orient myself, to find out where I was and where I was meant to go, to sketch out reality for myself." Had Celan's mother tongue not been German, his career would no doubt have turned out differently. As Felstiner notes at one point: "Coming from a homeland that hardly existed anymore, writing for a German audience that he did not live among or trust, residing in France yet undervalued there, Paul Antschel-Celan's native tongue itself [German] was the only nation he could claim. 'I've become neither European nor western,' he wrote to Petre Solomon in 1957. 'Friends-I have scarcely any. The "praise" you speak of-you can safely put that in quotes.''' "Jew," the last term of the trio in Felstiner's title, is every bit as important in this study as the first two terms. That fact sets this book apart from much of the scholarship on Celan to date. The Celan presented here is a well educated and fairly well connected Romanian Jew from a city whose population was 50 percent Jewish in Celan's childhood and youth. His early friends were mostly gifted young Jewish activists and writers. During his years in France his friends and associates included notable Jewish writers and intellectuals of the post-War years. He was conversant in Yiddish and acquired complete fluency in it in the labor camps. He annotated his Hebrew...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 150-152
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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