Breathturn Into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry (Hardcover)
2015 National Translation Award Winner in Poetry
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.
About the Author
Paul Celan was born in Czernowitz, Bukovina, in 1920, and is widely considered to be one of the most innovative poets of the twentieth century. A German-speaking Jew, he was sent to a forced labor camp during World War II. Celan settled in Paris in 1948, where he lived and wrote until his suicide in 1970. Pierre Joris has written, edited, and translated more than fifty books, including poetry, essays, translations, and anthologies. Most recently he published Barzakh: Poems 2000-2012, Meditations on the Stations of Mansur al-Hallaj, and the fourth volume of the anthology Poems for the Millennium: The University of California Book of North African Literature. In 2005 he received the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for his translation of Celan's Lichtzwang / Lightduress.
Praise for Paul Celan: Selections “Paul Celan is one of the essential poets—not just of the twentieth century, but of all time. Pierre Joris’s selections from the remarkable, heart-shattering work provide what is surely the best one-volume introduction to Celan ever published in English.” —Paul Auster
“No twentieth-century poet pierces the heart of language with such an exquisite blade as Paul Celan. With Pierre Joris & company’s translations of key poems, poetics, letters, and exemplary commentary, it is as if we are reading Celan for the last time, once again.” —Charles Bernstein, author of With Strings