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Celan

Celan

Celan, Paul, pseud. of Paul Antschel, 1920-70, Romanian-French poet. Although he spent his early years in Romania and his later years in France, Celan wrote in German and is widely considered the greatest postwar poet in Europe. A Jew, who lost both parents in a Nazi camp, he composed works that focus on the moral horror of the Holocaust and the destruction of the world as he knew it, as in his most famous poem, "Deathfugue." Celan was strongly influenced by Friedrich Hölderlin, Rainer Maria Rilke, Georg Trakl, and Osip Mandelstam. Frequently dissonant and freighted with pain, his poems are richly allusive and complicated. Celan was also a masterful translator of such authors as Shakespeare, Valéry, and Dickinson. He lived in Paris from 1948 until his suicide by drowning.

See the collection of his critical essays, ed. by A. Fioretos (1993); translations of his work by J. Neugroschel (1971), M. Hamburger (1988), N. Popov and H. McHugh (2000), J. Felstiner (2001), and P. Joris (2001); biography by I. Chalfen (1979; tr. 1991); J. Feltsiner, Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew (1995).

orig. Paul Antschel

(born Nov. 23, 1920, Cernāutsubcommai, Rom.—died May 1, 1970, Paris, France) Romanian poet who wrote in German. When Romania came under Nazi control during World War II, Celan, a Jew, was sent to a forced-labour camp; his parents were murdered. He moved to Vienna in 1947 and published his first volume of poetry, The Sand from the Urns, in 1948. His second volume, Poppy and Memory (1952), established his reputation in West Germany. He produced seven more volumes before taking his own life by drowning in the Seine. Celan's dense and complex verse is marked by his experience of World War II; his early poem “Todesfuge” is one of the most famous poetic expressions of the Holocaust.

Learn more about Celan, Paul with a free trial on Britannica.com.

orig. Paul Antschel

(born Nov. 23, 1920, Cernāutsubcommai, Rom.—died May 1, 1970, Paris, France) Romanian poet who wrote in German. When Romania came under Nazi control during World War II, Celan, a Jew, was sent to a forced-labour camp; his parents were murdered. He moved to Vienna in 1947 and published his first volume of poetry, The Sand from the Urns, in 1948. His second volume, Poppy and Memory (1952), established his reputation in West Germany. He produced seven more volumes before taking his own life by drowning in the Seine. Celan's dense and complex verse is marked by his experience of World War II; his early poem “Todesfuge” is one of the most famous poetic expressions of the Holocaust.

Learn more about Celan, Paul with a free trial on Britannica.com.

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