#jewishartist: Paul Celan

#jewishartist: Paul Celan

Paul Celan is one of the most influential poets of the 20th century. His works, which often reflect his Jewish origins and his difficult confrontation with his Jewishness, continue to have an enormous influence on world literature.

Celan was born to Jewish parents in Czernowitz, Romania, in 1920. His early years were marked by the growing anti-Semitism that was spreading in Europe. After the German occupation of the region in 1941, living conditions for the family became increasingly difficult: first they were forced to move to the local ghetto, and in 1942 Paul Celan's parents were deported to labor camps, where they both died. The deportation and death of his parents left deep scars on Celan: for the rest of his life he suffered from the feeling of having abandoned his parents. There are numerous references to this trauma of survivor's guilt in his poems. He himself survived the Holocaust as a forced laborer in the labor service.

In 1947, Paul Celan fled his homeland, which was now under Soviet control, first to Vienna. A year later, he went to Paris, where in 1951 he met his future wife, the artist Gisèle Lestrange. He soon published successful volumes of poetry and worked as a translator, maintained a wide range of contacts in artistic circles and was in a relationship with the author Ingeborg Bachmann for a while. But he was never able to really celebrate his successes: his mental health was so deeply affected by the terrible impressions of the Holocaust that he repeatedly sought treatment and, after a few incidents, lived separately from his wife, although the two remained close. His death in 1970 is still unexplained, but it is assumed that he threw himself from a bridge into the Seine to end his life.

Paul Celan's poetry often deals with themes of suffering and loss. Celan's Jewish identity was an important influence on his writing, and his works often reflect his own struggles with his faith. The works of Franz Kafka and the Bible also influenced him greatly, and his writings reflect a deep respect for both.

Celan's works have been translated into numerous languages ​​and have been praised by critics around the world. He is considered one of the most important poets of the post-war period, and his works remain among the most powerful poems of the twentieth century. His works are a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the resilience of the Jewish people in the face of adversity. His legacy is one of courage and perseverance, and his works continue to inspire readers to this day.

On March 22, 2023, the JCOM will dedicate a concert evening to Paul Celan – more information here .

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