Final version of Celan's The Meridian published

By Harriet Staff

paul celan

Both Hyperion Art Journal and Charles Bernstein have pointed out that Paul Celan's The Meridian, a speech written for his 1960 acceptance of the Georg Büchner Prize in literature, has been republished in a definitive edition by Stanford University Press, translated by Pierre Joris and edited by Bernhard Böschenstein and Heino Schmull. The new edition, entitled The Meridian: Final Version--Drafts--Materials, also includes an essay by Celan on Osip Mandelstam. Extracts from this major publication can be found in issue 40 of Jacket.

As the press notes, "The Meridian is one of, if not the most important poetological statement of the second half of the twentieth century. Much more than a personal statement or occasional piece, it is a meditation on the state of poetry and art in general and a rigorous attempt to account for what poetry is, can, and must be after the Holocaust."

Celan, whose poetic output frequently mirrored his response to Adorno's feelings about poetry after Auschwitz (as he said to Jean Daive, "Man will continue to talk, man will continue to bear witness with or without Adorno"), committed suicide in 1970 with less than 50 pages of collected prose. This edition of The Meridian contains facsimiles; first drafts; extensive, previously unpublished working notes; and preparatory work that should increase our knowledge of his scope and interconnections as well as "clarify Celan's notes to authors as diverse as Leibniz, Scheler, Kafka, Hofmannsthal, Husserl, Pascal, Valéry, Heidegger, and others."