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Paul Celan

Paul Celan (Paul Antschel, November 23, 1920 - April, 1970) was born in a German-speaking Jewish family in Czernowitz[?], in the region of Bukovina, then part of Romania. The city, which had belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire until World War I, would later be annexed by the Soviet Union and today belongs to Ukraine, being called Chernovtsy[?].

As a young man, Celan studied Medicine in France, but returned to Czernowitz[?] to study Literature. In 1941, German forces occupied the region and the Jews were confined to a ghetto. In 1942, Celan's parents were sent to an internment camp, were his father died of typhus and his mother was killed by a shot. Celan himself was sent to a labour camp in Moldavia.

After the war, Paul Celan managed to leave Romania for Vienna, Austria, where he published his first book of poetry, Der Sand aus den Urnen. He then moved to Paris, where he married the artist Gisèle Lestrange[?] and lived until his death by suicide. He drowned in the Seine in late April, 1970.

The experience of the Holocaust and his parents' deaths are defining forces in Celan's poetry. His most famous poem, the relatively early Death Fugue, commemorates the death camps, negating Adorno's famous assertion that "there can be no poetry after Auschwitz".

In later years his poetry became progressively more cryptic, fractured and monosyllabic, bearing comparison to the music of Webern.

His poetry books are: Der Sand aus den Urnen (1948), Mohn und Gedächtnis (1952), Von Schwelle zu Schwelle (1955), Sprachgitter (1959), Die Niemandsrose (1963), Atemwende (1967), Fadensonnen (1968), Lichtzwang (1970).

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