Monday, November 23, 2020

Susan H. Gillespie :

folio : Paul Celan/100


Extract from the Translator’s Introduction to Corona · Selected Poems of Paul Celan. Barrytown, New York: Station Hill, 2013, xi-xxiv.


The too-short life of Paul Celan (1920-1970) unfolded at the intersection of languages and countries, as he moved across their borders, torn and driven by the violence of their conflicts and the persecution he suffered as a Jew. His biography moves from Bukovina (at first part of Austro-Hungary, annexed by Romania and then by the Soviet Union—now Ukraine) to Bucharest, Vienna, and Paris, with frequent visits to Germany. Alongside the poetry (in German, with excursions into Romanian and French), and less than half a dozen remarkable prose pieces, Celan’s oeuvre includes translations of forty-six authors from seven languages.[1] His poetry, as he repeatedly explained, was an attempt to make sense of all this, to find a direction, a way to live, in language.

The result is a poetry written in German and yet always written between languages, a poetry for which translation was and is a constitutive part of experience. Here, poetry is not what gets lost in translation, it is, itself, an act of translation—of experience and thought—into new language.

To translate: to carry across. Celan’s most emblematic poem about poetic creation—a poem I hold to be of central importance for understanding his work and poetics—contains the word übersetzen, “to translate,” as part of a parable of carrying across. It is a truncated parable open to more than one meaning.

From Darkness to Darkness

You opened your eyes—I see my darkness live.
I see down to the bottom;
there too it’s mine and lives.

Can this cross over? And thereby awaken?
Whose light follows at my heels
that a ferryman appeared?

Here is the poem in German:

Von Dunkel zu Dunkel

Du schlugst die Augen auf—ich seh mein Dunkel leben.
Ich seh’ ihm auf den Grund:
auch da ists mein und lebt.

Setzt solches über? Und erwacht dabei?
Wes Licht folgt auf dem Fuss mir,
dass sich ein Ferge fand?

A love poem? A poem about language? We see the poet in a small craft on a dark sea. It is a rather traditional image, even if the boat is present only by implication, at the close of the poem. The sea is deep, a black pond in the eyes of his beloved. The poet, with the help of a mysterious ferryman, crosses over, or asks about the possibility of crossing over. The German word that I have translated as “cross over” is übersetzen: to translate. Literally: does this translate? In a well-known apercu by Martin Heidegger, with which Celan was familiar, the philosopher noted that über-setz’-en, as it is normally pronounced, with the accent on the second syllable, means “translate”; while with the accent on the first syllable, über’-setz-en, it means to ferry across or be ferried across. Celan exploits this ambiguity. Attempting to be open to both, and to stick close to Celan’s questioning rhythm and rising tone, I have translated as “Can this cross over?”

The “this” in the poem, what it seems to be “about,” initially, is darkness—or shall we rather assume two darknesses, the “darkness to darkness” of the title. One is the darkness of the poet, the other a darkness in the eyes of the beloved. The two darknesses may in fact resolve into a single darkness (“mine”): darkness plus darkness = darkness. In this reading, the darkness that the poet sees reflected in the depth of a lover’s gaze is his own darkness—separated now not by attribution, but by self-consciousness and the passage of time, in memory. And yet, it is almost impossible not to imagine that these two darknesses do not, on some level, belong to the lovers, that there isn’t a place in the poem both for the darkness of the poet and for the darkness of the beloved (apart from the likely darkness of her eyes). Indeed, this is the question posed by the poem. Does the darkness cross over? Does it awaken? The poem does not answer this question, but the ferryman “appeared.” There is the hope and possibility of crossing.

The darkness evoked in this poem reverberates through the “Meridian” speech. The poem, Celan writes there, has a darkness that, “if not congenital,” is “attributed to it for the sake of an encounter, from a—perhaps self-created—distance or strangeness.”[2] In this “for the sake of an encounter” we may see an affirmation of the interpersonal encounter that is at risk in the poem, for which the poem takes its risks.

The darkness attributed to the figures in the poem may cross over and awaken—at least we hope it will. It will cross over and awaken if the ferryman does his job. The ferryman appears for the poet thanks to a mysterious light, the light of someone else (“whose”). This light—anomalous in a scene centered on a living, creative darkness that the poet hopes will cross over (and not be effaced by light), paradoxical in its task of awakening without driving off the darkness of sleep—does not lead the way, nor does it pour down from above, like the sun. Instead, it follows the movement of the poet, lights him and the scene from behind. If it throws a shadow, it is a shadow thrown forward, toward the other bank of the river, or toward the beloved at whom the poet still gazes. Backlit, it casts a silhouette in a mirror.[3] But at the same time, the light also follows the poet’s movements, clings to the heel of his wandering foot. It seems to obey him, although it does this without his will. This shadow, into which the poet must step, is both self-created and completely dependent on a light from without. Its origin is interpersonal and alive—it follows, responds, clarifies, and reflects. It can be nothing but a form of mind, a shared consciousness. Only shared consciousness will allow the poet to embrace the present and an unknown future with the help of what he leaves behind, of the past.

The tenses in the poem are important. The simple past appears in two places: the beloved has opened her eyes, and a ferryman appeared. Thanks to the first of these two events, two things occur in the present: the poet sees and the darkness lives. And two questions are posed. In German, the questions are posed in the simple present: “Does this cross over, and thereby awaken?” I have translated somewhat differently, to emphasize the contingent nature of the crossing: “Can this cross over, and thereby awaken?” For the crossing remains uncertain, the destination ultimately unknown. In the future, if all goes well, there will be a crossing, and there will be an awakening. Such a thing as this (Solches) will arrive at its destination.

This Solches, this something, which I have translated inadequately as “this,” adds a further dimension, a comparative element to the text. “Such a thing as this” lifts the experience from the realm of the uniquely experienced to the level of the hypothetical. It also makes it generalizable. If the experience of this poem can cross over, then such crossings are repeatable, are possible as a type.

And the ferryman? The ferryman—we hope that he has come to appear for us as he appeared for Celan—is not the poet. This is important. Thinking of the ferryman as the poet, and the poem as his “freight,” is a natural mistake, particularly given other references in Celan to the poem as a message in a bottle. Indeed it is a rather common topos. It recalls, as well, the mythical figure of Charon, the boatman who ferries souls across the river Styx, to Hades.

But in this poem the ferryman is not the poet. The ferryman can only be the poem itself. A living presence, the poem springs to life in the mysterious light of shared consciousness. In an interview in Die Welt that he gave n 1958, Celan spoke of the life of the poem in terms identical to those in “From Darkness to Darkness”: “Poems sketch out life—they cast their shadow ahead of themselves: one must live after them. Life itself must pass through the poem.”[4]

If we think of Celan’s poem as a love poem, we may imagine this shared consciousness, with Walter Benjamin, as the bearer of the “profane epiphany” of mutual love. In the German original, the word that I have translated as “appeared” is sich fand—a reflexive verb that in its most literal sense means “found himself” or “found itself.” It’s a judicious way of thinking about the mysterious, “found” quality of poetic inspiration. Sich fand can be also be translated as “was found,” a variant that I seriously considered before opting, in the end, for “appeared” because of its suggestion of epiphany. If we think of it as a poem about poetry and/or translation, we may imagine it as the carrier and enabler of the sudden insight that flashes up when the words of the poet are truly grasped, “made flesh” by his reader/translator. This interpretation is supported by Celan’s use, in the opening line of the poem, of the verb aufschlagen, which is typically used of eyes—or of books.[5] If we think of it as a poem that, like quite a few in Celan, hallows the memory of the dead, we may imagine it, Charon-like, as responding to death’s finality by transmuting our grief, for just a moment, into a living communion with the dead. In all of these possible interpretations—all of them justified—the poem arises out of darkness and out of the past and makes toward an uncertain, unknown future in which it hopes to be in the company of another. As Celan wrote in “Meridian,” “The poem is lonely. It is lonely and en route. Its author stays with it.” And:

And are these paths [of poems] only detours, detours from you to you? But they are, among how many others, the paths on which language becomes voice. They are encounters, paths from a voice to a listening you, natural paths, outlines for existence perhaps. For projecting ourselves into the search for ourselves…. A kind of homecoming.”

Everything Celan says here about poetry is also true of translation—translation as poetry, as a metaphor for the transfer of poetic meaning, its voicing, its practice.

Note: the author stays with the poem. This applies, as well, to poems in translation—the original author stays with them. In a letter from 1959, referring to his Mandelstam translations, Celan described the process of translation in a way that goes beyond the now conventional notion of an encounter with the text. Of course, the text is the starting point for any translation, and as Celan notes: “my translations bear witness to my continual effort to achieve philological precision.” But there is something that extends beyond the text, that accompanies or radiates out from it. Celan continues: “Admittedly, the main thing for me, while remaining as close as possible to the text, was to translate the poetic in the poem, to reproduce the form, the timbre of the person who is speaking.”[6] Here we see a double encounter: not only with the text, but with a trace presence, in the text, of the other poet, his “form” or “timbre,” the quality of his voice.

For Celan, Mandelstam’s “voice” resonated with his life history and the cruel times that inflicted suffering so sadly reminiscent of Celan’s. The poet’s voice also resonated in the physical shape of the poems, the choice of language and the poems’ somatic form—rhythm, rhyme, assonance, and in general the gait and sound of their language. It is remarkable that Celan, who in his own work abandoned rhyme very early (except for occasional special effects) manages miraculously to recreate all of Mandelstam’s poems in German rhymed stanzas.

In a radio program Celan wrote in 1960, he describes experiencing Mandelstam, in his poetry, as a conversation whose nature is “phenomenal”:

…this phenomenon that emerges in the conversation has, like the person who perceived it with his language, its own time. Thus it comes toward you: in its very nearness distance is speaking, its own time speaks too; in the poem these—different—times interconnect, the hour speaks and the eon, the heartbeat and the cosmic clock.… They talk to each other, draw closer together—they remain incommensurable. In this way in the poem, the movement and the tension emerge by which we recognize it: time always joins in, time participates. The poems of Osip Mandelstam stand in a temporal corona of this kind. Which is the source, even in the noun series, of that vibrato of the words, which (also) has semantic relevance.[7]

The description of the poetic encounter as “phenomenal” and the mention of a “temporal corona” point to the philosopher Edmund Husserl, whose Lectures on the Phenomenology of the Inner Consciousness of Time Celan read in 1958. In the lectures, Husserl introduces the idea of the “temporal corona”—a term of art that Celan underlined in his copy of the Lectures, and that turns up more than once in his letters, poems, and other writings. The concept refers to Husserl’s observation that experience never contains a purely present moment—if it did, if it were completely separate from what precedes and follows it, it would be essentially meaningless. The neologism Husserl uses for this is Zeithof—a compound of Zeit, meaning “time,” and Hof, meaning “courtyard” or “corona,” for example the ring around the moon or the corona that becomes visible during a full eclipse of the sun or moon. Interestingly, German also recognizes the Italianate form “Corona” (sometimes written “Korona”), which—as in English—means “corona” in all the senses given above, and also has a musical meaning—the fermata, or lengthening of a note or rest, represented by the symbol [see here] . Although the Germanic term Hof is purely spatial, this musical meaning of Corona in German seems to bleed over into Husserl’s concept of the Zeithof, which relies for its definition on the example of musical melody: “The now-point again has a ‘temporal corona’ for consciousness, which occurs in a continuity of memory perceptions. The whole memory of the melody consists in a continuum of such temporal continuums, i.e. of continuums of perceptions of the type that have been described.”[8]

“Corona” thus emerges as a rather significant notion—an image-concept that, as it oscillates between visual and aural sensory modes, different languages, and overlapping temporal domains, sets broad and flexible horizons for human experience. For Husserl as for Celan, the shifting languages and meanings enrich and complicate each other. In this way, the term “corona,” in its various overlapping senses, both embodies and expresses the view that present perception is neither static nor disconnected from other perceptions, memories, and expectations or yearnings. Similarly, the apparently clear and present visual image, the precise poetic word is not unitary or closed in itself. It evokes something like an aura, a semi-visible, semi-audible, perhaps semi-conscious field of awareness that allows us to perceive the resonances with things and thoughts that are past or absent.

All this, as Celan repeatedly insists, has semantic meaning. The corona, the fermata are not just poetic devices, metaphors or allusions (despite the metaphorical quality of the terms themselves). In their multimodal, multilingual aspects they are real bearers of meaning. They participate. And the way they participate is by allowing resonances to unfold and become present to mind. The visual corona allows us to see peripheral light that is otherwise outshone by the brilliance of the sun or moon. The aural corona or fermata allows us to hear harmonic resonances that might otherwise be overheard or drowned out. The temporal corona allows us to ascribe meaning to life experience, including the life and voice of the poem and its accompanying poet. In this way, the poem is free, as its readers and translators are also, and inescapably, free to assemble or intuit its meaning. We do this by drawing on the experiences and other phenomena we have stored up in our linguistic and perceptual unconscious.

The role of the corona or fermata as the opening of a space for the perception of resonances is, I think, related to the significance of silence in Celan—a silence that is open and resonant. To quote again from the radio program:

It is this tension between the times, one’s own and that of the other, that lends the poem by Mandelstam that painfully mute vibrato by which we recognize it. (This vibrato is everywhere: in the intervals between the words and the stanzas, in the “coronas” in which the rhymes and assonances stand, in the punctuation. All that has semantic relevance.) The things draw close to each other, but in this very adjacency the question also arises: from where, and to where—an “open” question that “has no end,” that points to something open and available, vacant and free.

The vibrato of the human hand or voice, with its trembling ambiguity and ultimate incommensurability, is inseparable from both its unique personal time and its historical times. It speaks from the singularity of a mortal and unrepeatable human life—what Celan once beautifully called its “angle of inclination” (Neigungswinkel). And yet, although incommensurable, the voice is not meaningless, nor does its ambiguity ultimately render translation impossible—on the contrary. It is precisely the persistence of the somatic, real-life timbre of the voice, the vibrato of a memory that is inseparable from its anticipated or longed-for future—that translation aims for. The sound and shape of physical, spoken language—which can also, of course, be its mental representation as heard while reading a text—are essential bearers of meaning.

* * *


Extract from Corona. Selected Poems of Paul Celan, Barrytown, New York: Station Hill, 2013, 246-250.

The poem is an occurrence of itself.
—Paul Celan

The poem is an event
a slice of life
a sluice

luce = light

there was something here that I wanted to capture
that eluded me.

The way light slices through water
the water always moving
the way we want to capture the moving water in the moving light

with a net that is always moving
but our net, the net of our thought, is not light, is

grey, a veil that is always

is dark, or

a spider’s web in the dew
that tender

and easily torn.

The way thought moves down a nerve
in the form
of a wave

energetically and slowly, at one to thirty meters per second
an oscillation, until it meets itself again, between

hippocampus and prefrontal cortex,

As slowly
as memory, as the chiming of time
in tune with itself

more precisely: of something
in tune with itself

the slight, the ever-so-slight
temporal gap, the same difference that makes time

in the mind

only there
only once

its unseen

a singularity

then again—

The poem:
its moving net of light not merely light but
event potentials’ semi-permanent

dynamic state
still, semi is something

between is and as
between is and was

is and was not.

The poem:
the overlapping of references
the phenomenon of interference

the impact of coherent waves on each other when they meet.

You have been there before
you have been here before

Where was it going? Toward still resounding.
With the stone, went with us twain.

The wellspring rushes
the endless pool
black ponds of bliss

called by the sea

a river

of darkness


in the deep sea of a soul
and all the seas came too.

And in my eyes there is that moveable veil
it plays
to the tune of that rushing,

images and gestures, veiled and unveiled
as in a dream,

the net of light
plays over the stones,

while the stone grows fast,

so clear

so perfectly

more real than real
above real, and below

and over the water a word
that lays the ring over the stone.

You opened your eyes—I see my darkness live.
I see down to the bottom;
there too it’s mine and lives.

Can this cross over? And thereby awaken?
Whose light follows at my heels
that a ferryman appeared?

The poem:
with its human freight

a hope, today, of a thinker’s human word

in the heart—

borne over water
the sound of words
their coronas

(coronas: the halo, the
visual, temporal aura

our words)

their likeness
in darkness:

a known-unknown

hear (here)
in the rushing of thought

in your ears
my ears

the ears of our mind.

From darkness to darkness
by strange high floodtide

this life.

Listen in
with the mouth

said Celan,

listen in
with the eyes
the eyes on your breast.

You know of the stones
you know of the waters.

Listen in.

* * *


the overlapping of references

the phenomenon of interference

the impact of coherent waves on each other when they meet

Conversation with Hugo Huppert, December 26, 1966 (my translation), taken from “‘Spirituell.’ Ein Gespräch mit Paul Celan.” In: Paul Celan, ed. Werner Hamacher and Winfried Menninghaus. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1988, pp. 319-24. Translated into English by James Phillips, in Translating Tradition. Paul Celan in France, ed. by Benjamin Hollander. San Francisco: ACTS 8/9, 1988, pp. 156-62.

Where was it going? Toward still resounding.
With the stone, went with us twain
What occurred? (Was geschah?) 

the wellspring rushes
Crystal (Kristall)

the endless pool
Glimmertree (Flimmerbaum)

black ponds of bliss
Landscape (Landschaft)

called by the sea
Still Life (Stilleben)

Wordmound (Wortaufschüttung)

in the deep sea of a soul
“Edgar Jené and the Dream about the Dream” (Edgar Jené und der Traum vom Traume), in Paul Celan, Collected Prose, transl. by Rosemarie Waldrop. Manchester: Carcanet, 1986.

and all the seas came too
There was earth in them (Es war Erde in ihnen)

and in my eyes there is that moveable veil
Don’t be extinguished (Erlisch nicht ganz)

images and gestures, veiled and unveiled
as in a dream
“Edgar Jené and the Dream about the Dream” 

while the stone grows fast
Don’t be extinguished (Erlisch nicht ganz)

and over the water a word
that lays the ring over the stone
I heard someone say (Ich Hörte Sagen) 

You opened your eyes—I see my darkness live.
I see down to the bottom;
there too it’s mine and lives.

Can this cross over?  And thereby awaken?
Whose light follows at my heels
that a ferryman appeared?

From Darkness to Darkness (Von Dunkel zu Dunkel)

a hope, today, of a thinker’s human word
in the heart
Todtnauberg (Todtnauberg) 

by strange, high floodtide
this life

Invasion of the unsplit (Einbruch des Ungeschiedenen)

listen in
with the mouth
The Trumpet Passage (Die Pausaunenstelle) 

you know of the stones
you know of the waters
Shibboleth (Schibboleth)


To my mind, thinking, writing, and rewriting are all forms of translation, beginning with the translation of experience into language. Interlingual translation is distinguished by its capacity – especially since the creation of nations and formally recognized national languages in the 17th century – to expose the assumptions, imaginative leaps, and creative re-writings that are a necessary part of linguistic meaning-creation.

All spoken and written language bears the traces of our material experience, which, when we translate from one language into another, we may attempt to “carry across” as fully as possible. That the result naturally differs from the original is not a so much defect as an occasion for grateful acknowledging that identity is no more possible or desirable in the act of interlingual translation than in any other aspect of our life. Viewed in this way, translation calls on the full spectrum of a translator’s conscious and subconscious knowledge, from scholarly expertise to somatic response. To begin, she should have comprehensive, detailed knowledge of both the language of the original and the new language into which the chosen work is being translated. This includes the translator’s familiarity with historical and literary registers, genres, and sources on which the original author may have drawn in translating his or her lived experience into new language, and an equal familiarity – not always to be taken for granted! – with the same richly diverse dimensions of her “own” language and history. For me, in practice, acquiring this level of comfort often means doing additional research and immersing myself in the writer’s world. When translating Paul Celan’s poems, for example, I read widely m the poet’s other works and letters, and found Barbara Wiedemann’s meticulous accounting of his activities, sources, and concerns an invaluable resource. All this research, hopefully, need not render the result dry, flat, awkward, or obscure. On the contrary, the new language should feel alive, fresh, even surprising or striking.

In the end, this approach does not eschew faithfulness and is still, I think, fairly “classical,” but calls for heightened awareness of the physical and temporal embeddedness of all language – the “temporal corona” (Zeithof) that, as Celan noted in regard to his own translations of Osip Mandelstam, carries “semantic” relevance and is a crucial part of what translated work, indeed any work of art, means.

I translate rapidly – the first draft often feels almost as if it is unspooling automatically, except when I encounter words, phrases, or sounds in the new translation that spontaneously “feel” wrong, or terms in the original that call for further investigation. When the first draft is done, I like to let it sit, “ferment,” for a couple of weeks, before returning to the text and a thorough line-for-line and word-for-word comparison with the original. This phase usually involves many changes. If I’m lucky, I’ll have an attentive editor and a chance to read it through again with new eyes before it goes to press.



Susan H. Gillespie:

I am a translator from German to English and an international educator with a commitment to environmental justice and translatability. I have published works of philosophy (Theodor W. Adorno and others), musicology, and poetry (Paul Celan), as well as a novel, a memoir, and works on politics and media. Original essays on translation and international education have appeared in In Other Words, Journal of Studies in International Education, Liberal Education, Logos (in Russian), the Los Angeles Review of Books, New German Critique, The Musical Quarterly, Raritan, and World Policy Journal. I am a member of the Board of Advisors of Words Without Borders and Vice Chairman of the Board of Bard College Berlin.

Selected List of previous publications

Book-length translations

Theodor W. Adorno, Essays on Music, Selected, with an Introduction, Commentary, and Notes. Ed. by Richard Leppert (2002, University of California Press; 15 of 27 essays).

Theodor W. Adorno and Elisabeth Lenk, The Challenge of Surrealism. The Correspondence of Theodor W. Adorno and Elisabeth Lenk. Edited and translated by Susan H. Gillespie (2015: University of Minnesota Press). Includes retranslations of Theodor W. Adorno, “Rückblickend auf den Surrealismus” (Surrealism Reconsidered) and Walter Benjamin, “Surrealismus. Letzte Momentaufnahme der Europäischen Intelligenz” (Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia).

Paul Celan, Corona. Selected Poems of Paul Celan (2013, Station Hill Press).

Paul Celan and Ilana Shmueli, Correspondence (2011, The Sheep Meadow Press—finalist for the National Translation Prize; excerpt published as a Special APR Supplement in American Poetry Review).

Helga Königsdorf, Fission (2000, Northwestern University Press). 

Christian Lammert and Boris Vormann, Democracy in Crisis. The Neoliberal Roots of   Popular Unrest (2019, University of Pennsylvania Press).

Ilana Shmueli, Toward Babel. Poems and a Memoir (2013, The Sheep Meadow Press).

Roberto Simanowski, Facebook Society (2018, Columbia University Press)

Stefan Lorenz Sorgner & Oliver Fürbeth (eds.), Music in German Philosophy (2011, University of Chicago Press).

Christoph Türcke, Philosophy of Dreams (2013, Yale University Press).

Hanns Zischler, Kafka Goes to the Movies (2003, University of Chicago Press).

Translated Essays, Letters, Memoirs (Selection)

Adorno, Theodor W., and Hannah Arendt, “On Walter Benjamin’s Legacy: A Correspondence Between Hannah Arendt and Theodor Adorno,” with Samantha Rose Hill. Los Angeles Review of Books (December 9, 2019).

Adorno, Theodor W., “Amorbach.” In: New German Critique, 127 (February 2016).

Adorno, Theodor W., "On some Relationships between Music and Painting." In: The Musical Quarterly, 79/1 (Spring 1995).

Adorno, Theodor W., "Wagner's Relevance for Today." In: Grand Street, 44 (XI:4, 1993).

Adorno, Theodor W., "Music, Language, and Composition." In: The Musical Quarterly, 77/3 (Fall 1993).

Adorno, Theodor W., "Late Style in Beethoven." In: Raritan, XIII: 1 (Summer 1993).

Brahms, Johannes, correspondence with Joseph Joachim Norton. Critical Scores edition, ed. by Kenneth Hull.

Hölderlin, Friedrich, “Am Quell der Donau.” In: Schuldt, Robert Kelly, Friedrich Hölderlin, Unquell the Dawn Now (1998, DOCUMENTEXT, McPherson & Co.).

Kittsteiner, H.D., “The Allegory of the Philosophy of History in the Nineteenth Century” (with Daniele Franke). In: Steinberg, Michael P., ed., Walter Benjamin and the Demands of History. (1996: Cornell University Press).

Koschorke, Albrecht, “Ideology in Execution. On Hitler’s Mein Kampf.” In: New German Critique, 2015, 42 (1), 1-22.

Kraus, Karl, "Cultural Bankruptcy." In: Richard Strauss and His World, ed. by Bryan Gilliam (1992: Princeton University Press).

Müller, Harro, “Mimetic Rationality. Adorno’s Project of a Language of Philosophy” (New German Critique 2009; 36 (3 (108)), 85-108.

Sloterdijk, Peter, “Nationality. A View from Above and Within." In: Annandale, Spring 1991.

Essays, Book Chapters, and Conference Papers

“The Possibility of Translation.” Paper presented at the conference “Does Attention to Language Matter Anymore? Philology, Translation, Criticism,” November 2-3, 2018. Publication forthcoming in Boundary2 (University of Pittsburgh).

“Education as a Translational Space.” Panel presentation at the triennial conference of the International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS), July 3-6, 2018, Hong Kong Baptist University.

 “Adapting Liberal Arts and Sciences as a System of Education,” with Jonathan Becker. Book chapter in American Universities Abroad: The Leadership of Independent Transnational Higher Education Institutions, ed. Ted Purinton and Jennifer Skaggs (Cairo and New York. 2017: The American University in Cairo Press).

 “Prescience and Prediction: Walter Benjamin’s Media Dialectics and the 2016 US-American Election of Donald Trump.” Paper presented at the conference “Art and Political Engagement. Walter Benjamin’s thought in XXI century,” St. Petersburg State University, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, December 16, 2016.

“On Amorbach,” in: New German Critique 127 (February 2016).

“Translatability and the Migration of Knowledge. What Role for States in Higher Education of the Future?” Paper presented at the conference “Against Educational Apartheid. The Other Global University,” November 7-8, 2015, Weatherhead East Asian Institute of Columbia University.

“The Translatability Project.” In other Words, No. 45 (Summer 2015), 61-66.

Meinung =/= Meaning. Theodor Adorno and the Problem of Translation.” Paper presented at the conference “100 Years Adorno: A Symposium in Honor of Theodor W. Adorno’s Life and Legacy” at the Villa Aurora, Pacific Palisades, California, October 24, 2003.

 “Toward ‘Genuine Reciprocity.’ Reconceptualizing International Liberal Education in the Era of Globalization.” In: Liberal Education, Vol. 89, No. 1, Winter 2003.

"The Practice of International Education in the Context of Globalization. A Critique." In:
Journal of Studies in International Education, Vol. 6 No. 3, Fall 2002.

"Opening Minds. The International Liberal Education Movement." In: World Policy Journal, Vol. XVIII, No. 4, Winter 2001/02. 

“Translating Adorno. Language, Music, and Performance.” In: The Musical Quarterly, 79/1 (Spring 1995).


Both selections are from Corona. Selected Poems of Paul Celan. Barrytown, NY: Station Hill, 2013. Page numbers are cited directly preceding the two selections.


[1]Guillaume Apollinaire, Teodor Arghezi, Antonin Artaud, Charles Baudelaire, Alexander Blok, André Breton, Jean Cayrol, Aimé Césaire, René Char, Vladimir Chlebnikov, Émil Cioran, Jean Daive, Robert Desnos, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, André Du Bouchet, Jacques Dupin, Paul Éluard, Robert Frost, Yvan Goll, Alfred Edward Housman, Vladimir Khlebnikov, Maurice Maeterlinck, Stéphane Mallarmé, Osip Mandelstam, Andrew Marvell, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Henri Michaux, Marianne Moore, Gellu Naum, Gérard de Nerval, Henri Pastoureau, Benjamin Péret, Ferdinand Pessoa, Pablo Picasso, Arthur Rimbaud, David Rokeah (Hebrew), William Shakespeare, Simenon, Konstantin Slutschevskiy, Jules Supervielle, Virgil Teodoresco, Giuseppe Ungaretti, Paul Valéry, Sergei Yesenin, Yevgeny Yevtushenko.

[2] Here and elsewhere I cite Rosemarie Waldrop’s fine translation of Celan’s prose works: Paul Celan: Collected Prose (England: Carcanet, 1986).

[3] Celan gave the title “Backlight (Gegenlicht)” to group of aphoristic prose pieces he published in a newspaper in 1949, and also to a cycle in the volume Poppy and Memory.

[4] Gedichte entwerfen Leben—sie werfen ihren Schatten voraus. Man muss ihnen nachleben. Das Leben selber muss durch das Gedicht hindurch. Interview with Harry Neumann, Die Welt, 27 January 1958. Cited in Charlotte Ryland, Paul Celan’s Encounters with Surrealism. Trauma, Translation and Shared Poetic Space (London: Legenda, 2010. Trans. by Charlotte Ryland.

[5] Thanks to Madeleine Stratford for this observation.

[6] Letter to Gleb Struve, January 29, 1959, cited in Leonard Ölschner, “‘Anamnesis’: Paul Celan’s Translation of Poetry,” In: Translating Tradition: Paul Celan in France, ed. by Benjamin Hollander (special double issue #8/9 of ACTS: A Journal in New Writing), p. 69. My translation.

[7] Published in Paul Celan: Der Meridian. Endfassung—Vorstufen—Materialien, ed. Bernhard Böschenstein and Heino Schmull (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1999), 216. My translation.

[8] Edmund Husserl, Vorlesungen zur Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusststins (Lectures on the Phenomenology of the Inner Consciousness of Time), ed. Martin Heidegger (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 3rd edition, 2000), 396. My translation.

[9] Text in italics is Paul Celan’s.

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