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Paul Celan, one of the greatest German-language poets of the twentieth century, created an oeuvre that stands as testimony to the horrors of his times and as an attempt to chart a topography for a new, uncontaminated language and world. Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry gathers the five final volumes of his life's work in a bilingual edition, translated Paul Celan, one of the greatest German-language poets of the twentieth century, created an oeuvre that stands as testimony to the horrors of his times and as an attempt to chart a topography for a new, uncontaminated language and world. Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry gathers the five final volumes of his life's work in a bilingual edition, translated and with commentary by the award-winning poet and translator Pierre Joris. This collection displays a mature writer at the height of his talents, following what Celan himself called the "turn" (Wende) of his work away from the lush, surreal metaphors of his earlier verse. Given "the sinister events in its memory," Celan believed that the language of poetry had to become "more sober, more factual . . . ‘grayer.'" Abandoning the more sumptuous music of the first books, he pared down his compositions to increase the accuracy of the language that now "does not transfigure or render ‘poetical'; it names, it posits, it tries to measure the area of the given and the possible." In his need for an inhabitable post-Holocaust world, Celan saw that "reality is not simply there; it must be searched for and won." Breathturn into Timestead reveals a poet undergoing a profound artistic reinvention. The work is that of a witness and a visionary.


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Paul Celan, one of the greatest German-language poets of the twentieth century, created an oeuvre that stands as testimony to the horrors of his times and as an attempt to chart a topography for a new, uncontaminated language and world. Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry gathers the five final volumes of his life's work in a bilingual edition, translated Paul Celan, one of the greatest German-language poets of the twentieth century, created an oeuvre that stands as testimony to the horrors of his times and as an attempt to chart a topography for a new, uncontaminated language and world. Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry gathers the five final volumes of his life's work in a bilingual edition, translated and with commentary by the award-winning poet and translator Pierre Joris. This collection displays a mature writer at the height of his talents, following what Celan himself called the "turn" (Wende) of his work away from the lush, surreal metaphors of his earlier verse. Given "the sinister events in its memory," Celan believed that the language of poetry had to become "more sober, more factual . . . ‘grayer.'" Abandoning the more sumptuous music of the first books, he pared down his compositions to increase the accuracy of the language that now "does not transfigure or render ‘poetical'; it names, it posits, it tries to measure the area of the given and the possible." In his need for an inhabitable post-Holocaust world, Celan saw that "reality is not simply there; it must be searched for and won." Breathturn into Timestead reveals a poet undergoing a profound artistic reinvention. The work is that of a witness and a visionary.

30 review for Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Geoff

    This is Infinity Literature like Finnegans Wake. So one never really finishes or begins reading it. I certainly didn't. End or begin. The kind of writing that if you don't read it and revisit it your entire life it will never yield up its secrets. Probably won't then either. But, even in translation, Celan does things with language that are unprecedented, unable to anticipate, and, for me at least, mostly unable to decipher. I'd say approach it as you would approach music, but one doesn't do tha This is Infinity Literature like Finnegans Wake. So one never really finishes or begins reading it. I certainly didn't. End or begin. The kind of writing that if you don't read it and revisit it your entire life it will never yield up its secrets. Probably won't then either. But, even in translation, Celan does things with language that are unprecedented, unable to anticipate, and, for me at least, mostly unable to decipher. I'd say approach it as you would approach music, but one doesn't do that with words. So approach Celan as you would approach the spirit of beauty that dissolves when you try to apprehend her. Try to hold him. You'll fail.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    This is not a review of Celan's poetry, which I will simply say is, I think, among the greatest of the 20thc, but of this edition. It is a beautifully made hardback from FSG - german text of the poems on the left, english translations on the right (this is essential for Celan's work - not to have the bilingual even if you don't read German (I don't) is to miss out on much - it is important to see the shape, the breaks in words, the sounds etc) Joris' translations are, in general, not as tradition This is not a review of Celan's poetry, which I will simply say is, I think, among the greatest of the 20thc, but of this edition. It is a beautifully made hardback from FSG - german text of the poems on the left, english translations on the right (this is essential for Celan's work - not to have the bilingual even if you don't read German (I don't) is to miss out on much - it is important to see the shape, the breaks in words, the sounds etc) Joris' translations are, in general, not as traditionally "poetic" in English as Hamburger's - they do not have the same flow or use as many traditional poetic devices etc - but are, because of this, more "accurate". Short comparison - Original: FADENSONNEN über der grauschwarzen Ödnis. Ein baum- hoher Gedanke greift sich den Lichtton: es sind noch Lieder zu singen jenseits der Menschen. Joris : Threadsuns above the grayblack wastes. A tree — high thought grasps the light-tone: there are still songs to sing beyond mankind Hamburger: Thread suns above the grey-black wilderness. A tree- high thought tunes in to light's pitch: there are still songs to be sung on the other side of mankind. Felstiner Threadsuns over the grayblack wasteness. A tree – high thought strikes the light-tone: there are still songs to sing beyond humankind. What is interesting here about the act of translation (and why reading a number of different versions of Celan's work is helpful) can be seen from the different ways that "greift sich den Lichtton" is translated. Google translate gives me "grabs the optical sound" .... I think "light-tone" is better than Hamburger's "pitch" - not least because it retains more of the sound of the original german. "greift" itself gets me these meanings: http://en.dicios.com/deen/greift There is no "strikes" here (though I think the sound of this works better in english) - "strikes" and "light" bounce nicely off each other - Joris' choice certainly seems closer to the original german - what do any of you german speakers out there think? To stike something and to grab something are very different activities! So why not "grips"? Then we would retain both the "G" and the "i" (and note how there is an "i" in every main word in the line in the original) - perhaps because "grips" is too forceful, too aggressive? "Grasp" both suggests a certain desperation, but also "to grasp" something is to understand it - is this meaning there in the German? Anyway, I marked this as "read" though I will be reading and re-reading for the rest of my life, I am sure, simply to put it on more people's radars...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Edita

    ([…] Where flames a word, would testify for us both? You—all, all real. I—all delusion.) * In the noises, like our beginning, in the ravine, where you fell to me, I wind it up again, the musical box—you know: the invisible, the inaudible one. * […] you, with the hope fogging you in. * the wilding conviction that this is to be said differently than so.

  4. 4 out of 5

    mwpm

    Celan seems to have signaled as far back as 1958 that a change in his poetics was taking place, when he suggested that for him poetry was no longer a matter of "transfiguring" (verklären). The statement came in a short text written as a reply to a questionnaire from the Librairie Flinker in Paris, and needs quoting more fully, as it shows Celan already thinking through changes that will be implemented only in the poetry of the sixties, and which the volume Sprachgitter | Speechgrille, to be publ Celan seems to have signaled as far back as 1958 that a change in his poetics was taking place, when he suggested that for him poetry was no longer a matter of "transfiguring" (verklären). The statement came in a short text written as a reply to a questionnaire from the Librairie Flinker in Paris, and needs quoting more fully, as it shows Celan already thinking through changes that will be implemented only in the poetry of the sixties, and which the volume Sprachgitter | Speechgrille, to be published the following year, foreshadows without fully developing. Given "the sinister events in its memory," writes Celan, the language of German poetry has to become "more sober, more factual . . . 'grayer.'" This greater factuality checks a core impulse of the lyrical tradition - in German the common word for poetry is Lyrik - and its relation to the lyre, to music: "it is . . . a language which wants to locate even its 'musicality' in such a way that it has nothing in common with the "euphony" is to increase the accuracy of the language: "it does not transfigure or render 'poetrical'; it names, it posits, it tries to measure the area of the given and the possible." Celan underscores this turning point, this Wende, when he uses the word in the title of the volume that incarnates the turn and opens the book underhand: Atemwende | Breathturn... - Introduction, pg. xli-xlii Breathturn into Timestead collects the five volumes of poetry that followed the "turn" in Celan's poetics: Breathturn , Threadsuns , and Lightduress , published in Celan's lifetime, along with Snow Part and Timestead , published posthumously (following Celan's suicide in 1970). In addition, Breathturn into Timestead includes a cycle entitled "Tenebrae'd". According to the commentary by translator/editor Pierre Joris, the poems of this cycle were "written during the time of the composition of Threadsuns , and originally conceived as part of that volume"... In January 1968, Celan sent the cycle with the added title Eingedunkelt to Siegfried Unseld, the publisher of Suhrkamp Verlag, who had asked for a contribution to an anthology to be called Aus aufgegebenen Werken (From Abandoned Works). - Commentary, pg. 543 Breathturn ... The numbers, in league with the images' doom and counter- doom. The clapped-on skull, at whose sleepless temple a will- of-the-wisping hammer celebrates all that in worldbeat. * To stand, in the shadow of the stigma in the air. Standing-for-no-one-and-nothing. Unrecognized, for you alone. With all that has room in it, even without language. * Hollow lifehomestead. In the windtrap the long blown empty flowers. A handful sleepcorn drifts from the mouth stammered true out towards the snow- conversations. * Tell your fingers accompanying you far in- side the crevasses, how I knew you, how far I pushed you into the deep, where my most bitter dream slept with you heart-fro, in the bed of my inextinguishable name. * When they impale the last shadow, you burn the vowing hand free. * Half-death, suckled on our life, lay ash-image-true around us - we too kept on drinking, soul-crossed, two swords, stitched on heavenstones, born of wordblood, in the nightbed, larger and larger we grew, intergrafted, there was no name left for what urged us on (one of thirty- -and-how-many was my living shadow, who climbed up the delusion-stairs to you?) a tower, the half-one built into the Whither, a Hradčany all of goldmaker's No, bone-Hebrew, ground to sperm, ran through the hourglass, through which we swam, two dreams now, tolling against time, on the squares. * You, the hair taken from the lip with the bright- seeing highsleep: threaded through the goldeye of the sun-alright ash- needle. You, the knot torn out of the throat with the One Light: run through by needle and hair, underway, underway. Your reversals, incessantly, round the seven- fingered kisshand behind happiness. Threadsuns ... Sleepmorsels, wedges driven into the nowhere: we remain equal to ourselves, the turned- about roundstar agrees with us. * Eternities, died over and above you, a letter touches your still un- wounded fingers, the shining forehead vaults hither and beds itself in odors, noises. * Throw the solar year, to which you cling, over the heart railings and row to, starve yourself away, copulating: two germ cells, two metazoons, that's what you were, the inanimate, the homeland, now requests return - : later, who knows, one of you two, transformed, may reemerge, a slipper animalcule, ciliated, in the shield. * Dysposition, I know your knives swarming like minnows, closer to the wind than I nobody sailed, nobody more than I was cut by the hail squall to the seaclear knived brain. Tenebrae'd... Tenebrae'd the keypower. The tusk rules, up from the chalktrace, against the world- second. Lightduress ... We already lay deep in the underbrush, when you finally crept along. But we could not darken over toward you: there reigned lightduress. * Where I forgot myself in you, you became throught, something rushes through us both: the world's first of the last wings, the hide spreads over my storm-riddled mouth, you come not to you. * Your face shies quietly, when all at once lamplike it lights up inside me, at that place where one most painfully says Never. * Addressable was the one- winged soaring blackbird, above the firewall, behind Paris, up there, in the poem. * Delusionstalker eyes: in you end up the rest of the gazes. A single flood swills up. Soon you brighten the rock to death, on which they have bet, against themselves. * Do not work ahead, do not send out, stand inward: transgrounded by the void, free of all prayer, fine-fugued, according to Writ's pre-Script, Not overtakable, I take you in, instead of any rest. Snow Part ... Lilac air with yellow windowstains, Orion's belt above the Anhalter ruin, flamehour, nothing intercurrent yet, from standing bar to snow bar. * Snowpart, arched, to the last, in the updraft, before the forever dewindowed huts: flatdreams skip over the chambered ice; to carve out the wordshadows, to stack them around the cramp in the crater. * Be sloppy, Pain, don't slap her face you yourself botch the sand boil in the white Beside. * Something like night, sharper- tongued than yesterday, than tomorrow; something like her fishmouthed greeting over the sorrow- bar; something blown together in children's fists; something of my and of no substance. * The in-ear device sprouts a bloom, you are its year, you are dis- cussed by the tongueless world, one in six knows this. * A lead, treeless, for Bertolt Brecht: What times are these when a conversation is nearly a crime, because it includes so much that's already been said. Timestead ... Spiteful moons sprawl and slobber behind Nothingness, com- petent hope, the half of it, switches itself off, bluelight now, bluetight, in bags, misery, flambéed in hard troughs, a throwstone-game saves the forehead, you roll the altars timeinward. * Only when I touch you as shadow do you believe me my mouth, that one clambers with late- meanings up there in the timehalos, you happen upon the host of secondusers among the angels, the mutefurious stars. * The trumpet's part deep in the glowing Empty-text, at torch's level, in the timehole: listen your way in with the mouth.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cristina

    "Out of shattered madness I raise myself and watch my hand as it draws the one single circle"

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hind

    "BEFORE YOUR LATE FACE, a loner wandering between nights that change me too, something came to stand, which was with us once already, un- touched by thoughts." In all honesty, my soul has been prostrated beyond belief and I still cannot encapsulate this weariness and agony looming over me in words, and I fairly think I'm even more fatigued than I've ever been and that will just amplify as the days tread ahead so my demise takes me to the void of nothingness. "IN THE VOID where the chitlins wind ar "BEFORE YOUR LATE FACE, a loner wandering between nights that change me too, something came to stand, which was with us once already, un- touched by thoughts." In all honesty, my soul has been prostrated beyond belief and I still cannot encapsulate this weariness and agony looming over me in words, and I fairly think I'm even more fatigued than I've ever been and that will just amplify as the days tread ahead so my demise takes me to the void of nothingness. "IN THE VOID where the chitlins wind around the brains- blossom, I threw myself toward stones, they caught me and crowned a round with what I became." I have been haunted by demons of grevious losses, the recent death of my brother and the beginning of me encasing myself in the most bewildering stages of my life at the nonce; the demons of lost loves and the premature death of any one that I feel forming. It's exhausting. It's aching how I constantly yearn and all my hands can reach is emptiness; knowing that all I can offer with my distant hands is wilted flowers and feeble words. Death and loss are recurrent themes in my life and it has been terribly wearing me out. I, the murderer of my words, the slayer of my dreams had a shield for ephemeral moments when I read Celan's collection because I've thrown all my agonising dismay at him as I read his work. I threw all the heft on his words, all the tears in his works and he took everything like no one has ever done. With Celan I lamented. With his poetry, I only lamented and rued all my shortcomings, all my flaws and all the circumstances crashing over me because I chose, over and over, to stand against the tumultuous current of what they dictate, and what is pity is that I've only been a rebel against myself all the time. With Celan I looked for another lost part of me; another bit of the voice I'm seeking; another tear I had to shed, a sigh I had to heave out of my being. With Celan as well, everything became personal and I often sobbed at how this one sided dialogue set my chest and insides afire and unhurriedly watched me smoulder and crackle, charcoalising everything around me before turning into bitter-salty ash. Celan, I quote you to yourself as a diminutive letter from a future twenty-something weary soul: YOU WERE my death: you I could hold on to, while all fell from me. Because all did fall from me, and I only had my tears and the last pages of your poetry. Breathturn into Timestead simply and beautifully penetrated me, but perhaps that's another baby-step into the constant eradication of myself before emerging again, and hopefully not losing myself completely.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lou Last

    TODAY: nightthings, again, fire whipped. Glowing naked-plants-dance. (Yesterday: above the rowing names floated faithfulness; chalk went around writing; open it laid and greeted: the turned-to-water book.) The owl-pebble raffled— from the sleep-cornice he looks down upon the five-eye, to whom you devolved. Otherwise? Half- and quarter- allies on the side of the beaten. Riches of lost-soured language. When they impale the last shadow, you burn the vowing hand free. *

  8. 4 out of 5

    World Literature Today

    This book was featured in the Nota Benes section of the March/April 2015 issue of World Literature Today Magazine. See the full list of the March Nota Benes here: http://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/2... This book was featured in the Nota Benes section of the March/April 2015 issue of World Literature Today Magazine. See the full list of the March Nota Benes here: http://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/2...

  9. 4 out of 5

    dipandjelly

    HOW DO YOU WORDS???????????????????????

  10. 5 out of 5

    Khashayar Mohammadi

    Celan is the best "walk-and-a-spliff" poet of all time.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Greta

    Little night: when you take me in, take me in, take me up, three woe-inches above the ground: all the sand-made dyingcoats, all the helpnots everything, that still laughs with the tongue -

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cody Stetzel

    Every poem in this book informed me of an entirely new purpose for language.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Ian Fairley’s translation of Celan’s Snowpart is not as good as Pierre Joris’ translation of this and Celan’s other late books in Breathturn into Timestead. Joris’ are more literal, so far as that is possible. Celan is not here trying to sound lyrical or poignant or conversational – no, “greyer.” His poems open insights into the depths of social reality, its processes and how they wrench and/or bounce-off humans’ personhoods. Even these distanced- (removed)-seeming poems locate their persuasive Ian Fairley’s translation of Celan’s Snowpart is not as good as Pierre Joris’ translation of this and Celan’s other late books in Breathturn into Timestead. Joris’ are more literal, so far as that is possible. Celan is not here trying to sound lyrical or poignant or conversational – no, “greyer.” His poems open insights into the depths of social reality, its processes and how they wrench and/or bounce-off humans’ personhoods. Even these distanced- (removed)-seeming poems locate their persuasive and polemical element mainly in the place where depictions of reality are polemical when there is objectively something wrong in reality. It is in this way (in truth-telling) that Celan’s poems are very subversive, (without wanting to delineate an agenda.) Life even in the context of the Holocaust is nightmarish and looks to its sometime-concrete fundamentals (“eye”, “stone”, “dig”, “stand”, and others) to see how it can exist at all – as if life is an experiment in staring. The poems turn up inner workings of the individual human’s relationship or non-relationship to late-capitalist society, and the living human’s relationship to the dead, whose absence and once-presence are or have to seem to be of infinite weight. The poems seem to be wars and other militant and trying-not-to-be-[all-annihilatingly]-militant conflict-trajectories among eternal (though eternally alone, possibly) pieces of or institutions in human perception. The poems are the near side of conversation that takes place in a shocked, tired eternity. These are poems that pass judgment on, sardonically, their own topics – poems that belittle or negate themselves, partly to depict the negating of people in the world, partly, in words, to negate the human negaters. They are poems not exactly hostile – beyond hostility – but they have enemies. It is as if often the enemies (especially fascists) are not let into the poem, whose space is cleared for and reserved for the dead and their long orientations toward the possible and perhaps even relevant existence of God. It’s a poetry of what is left, and the uncertain demarcations of it, not in its future but in holding-places of unseen shape and size, a paralysis and/or wavering; or like the tension of being confined to a geometric plane, one dimension too few, so that all movement amounts to no more than a kind of wavering (a limbo – a space very loosely and palely grasped by, nevertheless, (for all that has ever been known), invincible boundaries.) But on a deep level these poems reach out and connect beautifully and viscerally – so that they are twofold – they present a cold and critical face to who is cruel and inhuman, and a human reaching toward (often) the dead and also many among the living. These poems are social in the sense that a declaration of solidarity with the dead is meaningful among the living. The poems take place as if half-eternally (because Celan scavenges in chthonic and ethereal recesses and steppes for the possibility of speaking), but they are crystallizations of woundings and partial healings that happen in this world.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mary Sayler

    This book isn't easy, but then well-written poetry seldom is! In addition to posting a review on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/review/RPHCNHQN... I reviewed the book on my Poetry Editor & Poetry blog - http://thepoetryeditor.blogspot.com/2..., which says in part: Not only was Celan ahead of times in compressing and reducing the elements of a poem as poets often do today, his work presents the essence, the essentials, the core of life, the crux of being stripped of superfluities and the superficial This book isn't easy, but then well-written poetry seldom is! In addition to posting a review on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/review/RPHCNHQN... I reviewed the book on my Poetry Editor & Poetry blog - http://thepoetryeditor.blogspot.com/2..., which says in part: Not only was Celan ahead of times in compressing and reducing the elements of a poem as poets often do today, his work presents the essence, the essentials, the core of life, the crux of being stripped of superfluities and the superficial. That was a mouthful! But Celan’s poems, amazingly rendered by Joris, give us beauty and a breathturn into brevity. For example: YOU MAY confidently serve me snow: as often as shoulder to shoulder with the mulberry tree I strode through summer, its youngest leaf shrieked. I have no idea what that means! Nevertheless, impressions and images arise, recreating a mood and interesting experience.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Delgado

    In these last collections of poems, one can read and hear the words the same way Huidobro does in "Altarzor," Lautrémont in "Maldoror" and James Joyce in "Finnegans Wake." Words flow and enter and leave new territories.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Upon further consideration, I'm not sure I love Joris's translations of Celan-- something seems off or missing, or too elemental and unrooted. And this edition is simply packed: the poems have no space for breath. Or perhaps I've begun to turn against Celan, the poet I've always loved most?

  17. 5 out of 5

    Milton

    Deep fucking shit shit the deepest fucking shit

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    “The poem is born dark; it comes, as the result of a radical individuation, into the world as a language fragment, thus, as far as language manages to be world, freighted with world.”

  19. 4 out of 5

    Keith

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dames

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mark Noack

  22. 4 out of 5

    anton

  23. 4 out of 5

    Manfred H. H.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  25. 4 out of 5

    Peycho Kanev

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nejra

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cameron Blaylock

  28. 5 out of 5

    City Lights Booksellers & Publishers

  29. 4 out of 5

    angelique

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mark Fleckenstein

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