Speaking In Tongues
Guided by Voices


by Anna Glazova


This thesis mainly focuses on Paul Celan's book of poems Die Niemandsrose. Osip Mandelstam was the Russian poet, whose life and works deeply impressed Celan and influenced his own writing. On the biographic level, Mandelstam's fate appeared to Celan as a premonition of his own. In the history of the twentieth century, the lives of these two poets are separated by the Holocaust. Both Jewish, Celan and Mandelstam sought to fit in the culture and the language of the countries where they were borne. At the same time, they both realized that they could not abandon Judaism completely. Both faced the anti-Semitism and experienced prosecutions in their countries. Mandelstam lived in banishment for five years and died on his way to the labor camp in the Russian Far East; Celan spent two years performing forced labor in Moldavia.
Also the poetic practice of the two poets shows certain similarities. Mandelstam criticized the blind emphasis on the technological progress of Stalin's industrialization; Celan, as will be discussed later, opposed the Nazi obsession with machines in his poems. Both Celan and Mandelstam oppose the indifferent, repetitive, merely quantitative progress with the entirely different concept of the human progression. They both feel obliged to keep memory on the past generations, to turn rather back to the past than to look forward to the future. The most significant link between Celan and Mandelstam consists in their notion of a poem as a receptackle of the memory.
Mandelstam never received a chance to reembody his experiences during the years of custody and banishment, because he perished before these events became memories. Celan survived the Holocaust and inscribed it in his poems. The dedication of Die Niemandsrose to the memory of Osip Mandelstam is the act of keeping memory - not only of the Holocaust in Germany, but also of Mandelstam's personal Holocaust.


Paul Celan's collected works include, apart from three volumes of poetry and prose, two volumes of translations, a considerable part of which are translations from Russian. Although Celan rendered works of altogether six Russian authors, only one of them, Osip Mandelstam, became crucial for his own poetical practice, even to the extent that Celan would refer to him, in a letter, written during his work on the translations, as "the Poet, the Metaphysician" (Gellhaus 1997, 389). The two authors indeed had a lot in common - both on the biographical and textual levels - allowing Celan to speak of his Russian predecessor as a brother (1) and benfit from the poetical knowledge of his counterpart from his own unique standpoint.
Osip Mandelstam was born thirty years earlier than Celan in St. Petersburg. His parents, like Celan's, were middle-class almost assimilated Jews. Similarly to the situation in Celan's family, Mandelstam's mother received a better "gentile" education, while his father was more concerned about the Jewish tradition. Mandelstam's family spoke Russian at home. The knowledge of Judaism, which he communicated to his children, did not exceed the boundaries of the basic information about most essential Jewish holidays and customs. Similar to Celan, Mandelstam in his younger years took an ambivalent attitude toward his origins (2), seeking to merge into the surrounding Christian culture; both authors would change their attitude in their later years. Like Celan, Mandelstam in his childhood drew a sharp line between the world of his largely assimilated, well-educated mother and the Jewish-orthodox tradition of his father. In the text "Judaic Chaos" from The Noise of Time, Mandelstam speaks of the crucial role language plays in a child's
development. Although the language of the family was Russian, Mandelstam refused to acknowledge it as such - in his recollection, this speech appeared to him as not proper enough. While the language of his mother appeared to him "poor and narrow", but "anchored and confident", the language of his father was the "shy language of a Russian-speaking Talmudist" (Mandelstam 1965, 90), whose , babble, he did not even accept as a valuable language at all:
My father had absolutely no language; his speech was tongue-tie and languagelessness. The Russian speech of a Polish Jew? No. The speech of a German Jew? No again... It was anything in the world, but not a language, neither Russian nor German.
In essence, my father transferred me to a totally alien century and a distant, although completely un-Jewish atmosphere. This was, if you will, the purest eighteenth or even seventeenth century of an enlightened ghetto somewhere in Hamburg (ibid.).
In another piece of prose from the same collection, "The Bookcase", Mandelstam compares his mind to a bookcase, where Judaic books occupy the lowest level, right next to the ground, while the German classics take up the major part and Russian works crown the top (Mandelstam 1966, 96). He loathes his Judaic, "chaotic", roots, yet he admits that they form the basis of his self as its pre-history, the primordial Book of Genesis. But it is the same , babble, or as he also calls it - , inarticulateness - that serves as the constructive element of his poetics, "a source of extraordinary power" (Pollak 1995, 33): " // " [He fashions the experiment from babble,// And drinks babble from experiment"] (Mandelstam 1997, 229).
The babble is also the interim phase in the birth of a poem. Mandelstam composed "from hearing" and never wrote poems down himself rather letting his wife or others do it. First a poem emerged as a musical phrase, from which words would later follow. The source, from which the poem, or the Word, appears, is the world culture, or the universal memory:
There is not yet a single word, but the poem can already be heard. This is the sound of the inner image, this is the poet's ear touching it.
Only the instant of recognition is sweet to us!
Today a kind of speaking in tongues is taking place. In sacred frenzy poets speak the language of all times, all cultures (Mandelstam 1991, 116).
Moreover, Mandelstam emphasizes that the poetic language is not only a tool to connect the poet with the whole world history, language and history are identical (3): "So highly organized, so organic a language is not merely a door into history, it is history itself" (Mandelstam 1991, 122).
Since Antiquity served Mandelstam as the most powerful source of inspiration, it is appropriate to compare this particular conception of history as a reservoir for cultural memories to Plato's Chora, a receptacle of ideas, that forestalls all creation. The idea as a finished pattern is first impressed into the Chora, where it is kept as the absolute model for any object created in the world. A poem descends from the Chora and announces itself to the poet first in the inarticulate form, not filled with words yet. It is the preliminary melody, which will ater give birth to the words of the completed poem. This process is both happy and feared, since in its "coming through" the poem might become lost or spoilt by a wrong word, if the poet's listening to the music is interrupted:

, ,
, .

. .


, ,
(Mandelstam 1997, 152).

[I have forgotten the word that I wanted to say.
The blind swallow returns to the palace of shadows,
On cut wings, to play with the transparent ones.
In nocturnal unconsciousness a song is sung.

Birds cannot be heard. The immortelle is not in bloom.
Transparent are the manes of the nocturnal herd.
In the dry river an empty boat swims.
Among grasshoppers the word becomes unconscious.


And to mortals is the power given to love and perceive,
For their sake sound is poured into fingers.
But I have forgotten what I want to say,
And the incorporeal thought returns to the palace of shadows. (4)]

As soon as the poem is established, the poet experiences , joy of recognition. A poetic work is a recollection of the universal culture, confirming that the memory is preserved - the anamnesis. The last phase in the genesis of a poem is its inscription. For the sake of perpetuation (5) the poem is written down. This causes it to lose its living body, its sound, which was the means through which it was communicated to an interlocutor, . A poem, as a statement of non-forgetting, a modified idea, then returns back to the Chora of the eternal cultural memory. This transition, though, is a traumatic one: for in the eternity, the many-colored living word has been transformed into its pale shadow.
These traumatic metamorphoses of the Word are reflected in the distorted language, whose foundation is the Judaic chaos. This consideration, probably, hides behind Tsvetaeva's peculiar aphorism " - " [All poets are Yids] (6) (Freidin 1987, 7). Freidin argues that "the true center of modern Russian culture was not with those 'most Christian' but their opposites - the antipodal 'Yids'" (Freidin 1987, 9). Obviously Mandelstam was completely aware of this double-role as the social outcast and the supreme bearer of the majority culture at the same time, which he sought to integrate fully into the context of the universal cultural memory. In this sense, Mandelstam, like later his Bukovinian counterpart Celan later, is much more than a Russian or even Russian-Jewish poet, since he represented and contributed to the world literary tradition, far beyond the boundaries of his physical homeland.


Osip Mandelstam is not infrequently called the central figure in modern Russian poetry, and Paul Celan is often considered the most important German poet after World War II (7). This characterization is not unproblematic, as it reduces Celan's importance by referring to him as a national poet. Even though Celan wrote in German and received numerous German literary awards, the discourse within and about his poems is international (8), or even universal. Alhough Celan's native language was German, he was also fluent in Yiddish, English, Italian and Russian. He spoke Romanian at school in Czernowitz and with his Bucharest friends. Later, when he moved to Paris, French became his everyday language (Emmerich 1999, 83). The first text Celan succeeded in publishing was a translation from Russian into Romanian (9). His best known poem, "Todesfuge", was initially published in Rumanian translation by Alfred Margul-Sperber in the literary magazine Contemporanul in May 1947 under the title "Tangoul Mortii" [Death Tango]. There have been many responses to Celan's language: it was considered a "Babel within the single language" (Derrida 1994, 31), "the wreckage of poetry" (Lacoue-Labarthe 1999, 8) and language of alienation (Carson 1999, 28-33). Celan's poetry has a "foreign quality" and sounds "as if it were always translating" (10) (Carson 1999, 28). The more articulated Celan's poetic language became, the more his texts were filled with strikingly unusual, alien words and images: neologisms, rare, and morphologically distorted words. He borrowed and incorporated words and quotations from foreign languages into poems.
It is indeed problematic to classify Celan as a German poet. To avoid this label, Celan is also often called an Austrian poet, but also this identification too is imprecise. Czernowitz had been a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and also remained under influence of the Austrian culture after World War I. As a matter of fact, many Czernowitzer authors called themselves "Buko-Wiener" (Emmerich 1999, 23), but it was Celan's wish, as well as a necessity, to escape this narrow circle. His biography reveals that after the war he was constantly en route, until he established himself in Paris, where he could, at last, remain alien and foreign. Vienna was just a station on this journey, although the Austrian capital remained important to him for the rest of his life. Probably the first person who coined the designation of Austrian poet for Celan was his old friend Erich Einhorn (Dmitrieva-Einhorn 1999, 14). Einhorn, Celan's former classmate, escaped to Russia during the war and eventually managed to establish himself as the editor of the prominent literary magazine Noviy Mir, where he was able to publish several Celan's poems as examples of modern Austrian verse. Christine Ivanovi mentions a letter to Vladimir Markov, in which Celan said: "Im Grunde bin ich wohl ein russischer Dichter..." (Ivanovi 1999, 51). It is rather impossible indeed to define Celan's work in terms of a national literature; the Holocaust rendered Celan's former "Buko-Wiener" identity extinct. Writing in the "murder language" (Emmerich 1999, 42) of German and living in exile, Celan, among other authors with the similar background, could be called an off-German poet, with all the inaccessibility of such a term. Like Mandelstam, Celan became , a rootless cosmopolite, whose only possession was his language (11).
In the broadest spectrum of Celan's vocabulary, which contains specific terms from fields as varied as botany, medicine, theology, geology etc. (12), one can hardly find any reference to mechanistic devices. If any kind of equipment does appear, it is as primitive as a clock, a wheel or a medieval alchemical retort. Celan avoids technical vocabulary quite consciously and intentionally; his "immaterial, yet earthly, terrestrial" language is opposed to the immensely mechanized structure of the Holocaust. If he makes an allusion to technology, then loaded with negatiive connotation (13).
In this fact I see a further proof of the poetical kinship of Celan and Mandelstam. On the one hand, in his programmatic Acmeist manifestos Mandelstam proclaimed the return from Symbolist clouds to Earth, urging the poet to be attentive to the phenomena of every day existence. Similar to Celan, Mandelstam's poetic language is often called "geological", and his works are replete with terrestrial imagery. In the essay The Word and Culture Mandelstam writes: "Poetry is the plough that turns up time in such a way that the abyssal strata of time, its back earth, appear on the surface" (Mandelstam 1991, 113). This image reappears in Celan's poem "Schwarze Erde" in Die Niemandsrose. The same notion of the poetic language as a terrestrial phenomenon contributed to Celan's creation of the Meridian topos (14), which became crucial for Celan's practice of writing altogether.
The harmonious organic consonance is discussed by Mandelstam in the essay "Humanism and the Present" (Mandelstam 1991, 181). The pre-industrial era is opposed here to the wretchedness of the 20th century mechanical technology Mandelstam imagines two models of a possible social structure in a society. The first - and positive one - is the organic "social Gothic", similar to the Gothic cathedral, where every member is necessary and bound, bearing with dignity its part in , the play of forces (Mandelstam 1991, 63-65). The second, the negative model according to Mandelstam, is a simple social pyramid, in which the hierarchy does not follow any inner logic, but is constructed haphazardly and purely mechanically (Mandelstam 1991, 181-183), leaving no room for those who have become outcasts and pariahs as a result of random and forcefully applied laws. This essay, written in the midtwenties, reflects on social changes connected to technical progress, to which Mandelstam referred as "civilization", with a somewhat negative implications.
In the first two decades of the 20th century, the rapidly developing technology brought about impressive machines that became not only symbolic of human power and superiority over nature, but also created in the minds of many, the image of a hostile force that might break loose and become destructive. This notion is reflected in numerous works of art and literature of the time. Fascism not only brought about the breakdown of culture and value system, it was also an enfant terrible of the industrial progress. From this point of view it is not a coincidence that fascist propaganda employed images of technical progress such as highways, fast cars, engines, etc. The fascist ideology was based on the machines and the machinal. The mechanization caused the inner alienation. The human seemed to become replaced with the mechanical. Fascism made use of this "modern time" phenomenon. The development of audio-visual mass media, furthermore transformed the Fascist propaganda into an easy-to-consume mass product. Techniques used to produce visually attractive advertisements, developed by artists and photographers (some of them, like El Lissitzky, were, ironically enough, confirmed socialists), were efficiently used in the fascist propaganda machine. And the concentration camps, intended for mass destruction, with their carefully arranged hierarchy and technical equipment, were perfect conveyers of death (15). To die in the concentration camp meant not only to be murdered, but also to be treated as material for killing machines, that stripped away all individuality in life, as well as (or especially) in death.
Customarily, the remains of the dead are buried and a place of the burial is marked - usually with the name and two dates, date of birth, the other the date of death. In that way a minimum of individuality is inscribed on a stone to prolong human memory. The victims of the Holocaust did not have personal graves; as Celan said, they ascended into "ein Grab in den Wolken da liegt man nicht eng" ("Todesfuge"). Peter Szondi points out that it was Celan's usual practice to sign poems with the specific information on where and when (sometimes with the exact hour) the text had been written. These notes are to be found in his manuscripts, but were deleted prior to publication. (16) In this respect, Celan's texts on the memory of the Shoah function as "a grave in the clouds", a cemetery resting upon the void (17) - immaterial tombstones with erased dates and obliterated inscriptions of "all den mitverbrannten Namen" (Celan 1963, 25).
Celan had survived the Holocaust but for the rest of his life buried the dead; to survive can imply both coming through and escaping. In Celan's case, it is hard to decide which one of the two meanings describes his situation the best. He spent eighteen months in the labor camp of Tabresti near Buzau, in Moldavia (now Moldova), where he performed forced labor on road construction. The camp was within the Romanian jurisdiction and, thus provided some protection from the Verbringungen (as Celan writes in Sprachgitter), i.e. deportations to German concentration camps. Doing time in Tabresti, Celan was able to write and receive letters. He even went on a business trip to Vienna and took a vacation in Czernowitz. His was a far better fortune than that of his parents: after having ignored their son's urgent requests that they leave or hide, they were deported to the camp in Michailovka and both were murdered there in late 1942 (Emmerich 1999, 43-45). Celan was allowed to go back to Czernowitz, since in 1944 Romania came under Soviet occupation, and in 1945 he enrolled into the University of Bucharest. Having survived, he enjoed his newly-found life at that time (18), the motif of the genocidal murder inevitably emerges in his poems (melodious and serene before. In "Nhe der Grber" and "Espenbaum" (1945 (19)), murdered Jews are personified in the figure of Celan's own mother. "Todesfuge", written shortly after these two poems, shares the image of the hair, that had time to turn old and grey, (20) with "Espenbaum".
"Todesfuge", the much discussed and, probably, best-known Celan's poem, was, in a way, a failure and at the same time the turning point in his career. This "schnes Gedicht" (Emmerich 1999, 56) evoked a great number of critical debate. Some critics discussed it only in terms of the aesthetic value; others, starting with Jerry Glenn in 1973, pointed out its historical significance, calling it "beautiful and terrible at the same time" (Glenn 71); and, again, other critics, such as Kurt Brutigam and Hans Mayer, interpreted it as a "reconciliation" between Jews and Germans. In 1966, Celan bitterly referred to his poem as "lesebuchreif gedroschen" ("thrashed into shape to fit a high school reader") (Huppert 1973), and, he would not permit its publication in anthologies from that point (Fricke 1997, 196). The first reading of "Todesfuge" given by the author occurred at the meeting of Gruppe 47 in 1952, and provoked a reaction that Celan hardly could have expected: as Walter Jens remembers, the poem received a cold reception from the public, and someone in the auditorium stated that Celan "reads like Goebbels" (Firges 1962, 266). Perhaps this rebuff forced Celan to realize that, in order to express the remembrance of the Holocaust, a completely new language was needed. The melodiousness and tragic pathos of "Todesfuge", even if it was the opposite of the author's intention, attached a melancholic beauty to the poem - and thereby to the events of the Holocaust.
Like Mandelstam, who needed the Word to be , mangled, or tongue-tied, in order to function as the vehicle for perpetuation of the poem and inscribing it into the body of the cultural pan-memory, so Celan needed the alien word, that would be able to signify the memory of the Disaster. Aris Fioretos discussed Celan's poetic language in respect to this trauma, which appears and reappears in the poems: the trauma is not merely described, on the contrary - it is inscribed in the body, the syntax of the text. His research shows, how the experience of the horrific injury takes shape in Celan's post-war poems on the example of "Die Silbe Schmerz":

[...] ein blindes

E s s e i

knpfte sich in
die schlangenkpfigen Frei-
Taue -: ein
(und Wider- und Gegen- und Aber- und Zwillings- und Tau-
sendknoten), an dem
die fastnachtsugige Brut
der Mardersterne im Abgrund
buch-, buch-, buch-
stabierte, stabierte (Celan 2001, 202).

[[...] a blind

L e t t h e r e b e

tied into
serpentheaded free-
coils -: a
(and retro- and counter- and over- and double- and Thou-
sand knot) where
a carnival-eyed brood
of weasel stars in the abyss was
book-, book-, book-
stalling and stalling (ibid.)]

There is no word of pain or lamentation in this poem, there is no description of the violence (and in this respect the poems in Die Niemandsrose differ so much from the earlier "Todesfuge"), but "[t]he pain schematised throughout Celan's poetry here becomes the wounding of the syntax, the cutting agony of language itself" (Fioretos 1994, 331).
Instead of an additional lyrical portrayal of the Holocaust, which would be a way to speak about it as an event in the past, Celan (especially from Sprachgitter on) persistently affirms the remembrance of the annihilated "Wurzel Abrahams" (Celan 1963, 37), whose memory he strives to prolong in his texts, naming the dead Niemand (No-One) and Nichts (nothing). "Nothing", or "No-One" is an erased collective individuality, but each unknown member is addressed singly - "No-One" instead of "we" in the earlier "Todesfuge":

Ein Nichts
waren wir, sind wir, werden
wir bleiben, blhend:
die Nichts-, die
Niemandsrose (Celan 1963, 23).

A Nothing
we were, are now, and ever
shall be, blooming:
the Nothing-, the
no-one's rose (Celan 2001, 157).

Celan's relationship to Judaism was ambiguous. He was raised according to the model of good upbringing, common in the Jewish middle-class:
Paul's parents gave their son a conventional, middle-class education, in which Judaism served as a moral structure rather than a religion. Jewish ethics were to shape his character and still the behavior necessary for the social advancement they hoped for him. That this education had to be authoritarian seemed self-evident to them. His father, usually a very correct and compliant man, felt himself virtually obliged to impose his paternal authority to its full extent (Chalfen 1991, 37).
For the first time in high school the young Celan succeeded in gaining greater freedom, with his mother as his accomplice. He rejected his father's "'petit-bourgeois' Zionism" and "did not hesitate to voice his opinion to his friends" (Chalfen 1991, 71). In a conversation with a friend, Celan once said that Kafka's Letter to the Father could be written over and over again in Jewish homes (Felstiner 1991, 21). But although his father's authoritarian upbringing left a negative memory in Celan's mind, "his recovery of childhood would not have exhibited Kafka's or Mandelshtam's ambivalence tinged with disgust at the loose ends of Central European Jewish assimilation" (Felstiner 1991, 21). Later Celan's attitude toward Judaism would change, he would accept it as his spiritual guide; Lydia Koelle called it das pneumatische (21) Judentum (22).
Until he was reminded by the Nazis of his Jewish origin, Celan tried to free himself from Jewish tradition, the burdensome rule of his father. He leaned, as Mandelstam and Kafka did, toward the Germanized world of his well-read mother. Her image appears in many of his poems as the symbol of the lost homeland, (23) and it is always referred to with the greatest pain. Before the war Celan was inclined to see the future of Bukovina Jewish culture in terms of enlightenment and assimilation. After the catastrophic dissolution of the German-Jewish "symbiosis", the once harmonious whole of Celan's Buko-Wiener German-Jewish identity became torn apart into two incomplete halves, separated by an impassable chasm. This, catastrophe both collective and individual, finds its utmost expression in "Radix, Matrix":

Wurzel Abrahams. Wurzel Jesse. Niemandes
Wurzel - o

Root of Abraham. Root of Jesse. No-One's
root - O
ours.) (Celan 2001, 167)

According to Germinal ivikov, "root of Abraham" refers to Jews, while "root of Jesse", or Isai, to Christians. No-one's root means, then, the negation of the possible unification of these two origins into one (ivikov 1999, 100). Celan's origin was reduced to No-one and Nothing. An absolute stranger, he feared his visits to Germany and rejected the notion of reconciliation with Judaism. Nelly Sachs considered such reconciliation possible and tried to convince Celan of this idea (Bollack 1994, 119-134, ivikov 1999, 98, Emmerich 1999, 144). Celan kept negating - his remained only das Nichts, der Niemand.
It seems appropriate to relate Celan's recurring and terrifying Nichts to Freud's term "das Unheimliche", the uncanny, literally the "un-homely" (24). The uncanny are things that one cannot classify by any of the familiar categories, the uncanny is always unknown and alien, something that is not and cannot be internalized, as Celan could not rationalize the Holocaust. The uncanny can't seize to be uncanny. The memory of the uncanny returns back and back again, so that at last, through the process of these repetitive returns, the uncanny becomes familiar. The uncanny posseses the power to keep one bound on it. In "Todesfuge", Celan's thoughts already dwell on the uncanny experiences in the labor camp. In his later poems he repetitively returns to these events, but in a departure from "Todesfuge", he elaborately erases every presence of the familiar topoi by placing them into an alien landscape. In this uncanny, unheimlich, infinite and indefinite world without dates and markers his poems hover over "graves in the clouds" and prevent the "no-ones" from falling into oblivion. How much denial to forgive and forget contains this conception, may become illustrative from Celan's conversation with Martin Buber. According to Felstiner, their encounter went wrong: "How had it felt (Celan wanted to know) after the catastrophe, to go on writing in German and publishing in Germany? Buber evidently demurred, saying it was natural to publish there and taking a pardoning stance toward Germany. Celan's vital need, to hear some echo of his plight, Buber could not or would not grasp" (Felstiner 1997,161). Celan understood that as soon as such a reconciliation would take place the Holocaust would turn from a disturbing memory into a past event. The catastrophe past is a new beginning that makes the past obsolete. Celan wanted to retain the memory for himself and others. The traumatic coexistence of the singularity and the dissolution build together a "speechgrille" of the poem, behind which the silence of the uncanny dwells.
Unlike Mandelstam's rejoicing act of anamnesis, Celan's rescuing of recollection from dissolving into oblivion is by necessity a suffering, the everyday pain of keeping memory alive.


Die Niemandrose was written between 1959 and 1963, while the translations of Mandelstam were started in 1957 and completed in 1959. The cycle is dedicated "Dem Andenken Osip Mandelstamms": Celan insisted in this spelling of the poet's name, which alludes to the word der Stamm meaning "stem" or "kin". Celan "translated" Mandelstam's name into German, to make the name "speaking" in the language of his poems. Celan felt kinship between himself and Mandelstam in a variety of aspects: Jewishness, persecution, solitude, suicide attempts, rejections by publishers (25). In his penchant to identify with Mandelstam, Celan even believed for a while that Mandelstam was killed by Germans during the war (Gellhaus 1997, 328). Thus, Mandelstam pervades Die Niemandsrose like an astral double of Celan and signifies the body of Jewish victims, since " " (26). Having added the letter "m" to Mandelstam's name, Celan also attached to it the image of the almond tree to symbolize the poet and the Jews in general (27), since Mandelbaum, the almond tree, is a biblical symbol of the Jews. (28) The most obvious references to Mandelstam-Mandelbaum are to be found in "Mandorla" (Glenn 1973, 127), "Nachmittag mit Zirkus und Zitadelle" (Ganz 1994, 283-292), "Schwarzerde" [...] (Goldschnigg 1991, 104), "Eine Gauner- und Ganovenweise" (Werberger 1997, 13), "In eins" (Derrida 1994, 34), "Und mit dem Buch aus Tarussa" (Olschner, 1994, 373). Although it has already been pointed out that
Mandelstam's image appears and reappears in a number of poems in Die Niemandsrose, the intertextual connections have not been the primary focus in criticism. My discussion of Die Niemandrose intends to show that the cycle contains, besides the complex symbolic figure of Mandelstam, also a vivid intertextualdialogue. As Peter Ganz and Leonard Olschner showed, Celan's work as translator of Mandelstam's texts exceeds the rigid linguistic task and provides an example of highly personalized reading, which transfers and at the same time provides a commentary. These translations form the basis of the poetic Nebeneinander in Die Niemandsrose - in the sense of conversation with the interlocutor (Mandelstam) or with the Other (Celan), a dialogue that produces die fremde Nhe, as Celan once called the art of translating. An example of such an encounter is to be found in the poem "Nachmittag mit Zirkus und Zitadelle".
This text reproduces two different prospectives or, better said, retrospectives. It can be read in the context of the European history between the two world wars, while it speaks, too, of the individual perceptions of one poet's musing on the other. The encounter is an imaginary thread that leads through both the temporal and spatial displacements - the Meridian. In his reception speech for the Bchner prize, Celan creates the following image:
I am also, since I am again at my point of departure, searching for my own place of origin. [...]
I find a connective which, like the poem, leads to encounters.
I find something - like language - immaterial, yet earthly, terrestrial, something in the shape of a circle which, via both poles, rejoins itself and on the way serenely crosses even the tropes: I find... a meridian." (Celan 1996, 148)
Celan's meridian is a "polytrope" (Derrida 1994, 14), its function is to bind, to take one into various places, including poles and tropes (in both meanings of the word), and to bring one back in the same instant. The point of departure in "Nachmittag mit Zirkus und Zitadelle", from which time and space break through their boundaries, is Brest.
Peter Ganz writes that in 1959 Celan spent his vacation on the French Celtic coast, not far from the harbor of Brest. In Belorussia there is also the city with the same name, Brest. This Brest is particularly interesting with respect to its historical role in German-Soviet relations. In 1918 the treaty of Brest-Litovsk, at that time in the territory of Poland, was signed to end the Soviet-Russian participation in World War I. In World War II the two Brests became opposing poles: Brest in Bretagne was the Nazi submarine base, and its counterpart on the river Bug successfully resisted the Nazi invasion in 1941. The defense was built around the fortress in Belorussian Brest that had been constructed in 1838 and reconstructed around the turn of the century. Breton Brest too has a fortress, since originally it had been a Roman military outpost. The citadel mentioned in the title of the poem refers to both towns.
The skyline sketched in the second strophe, with its seagull, roadstead and crane, suggests Breton Brest, and then suddenly a cruiser "Baobab" appears in the harbor. Neumann reads this word, that means "the monkey bread tree", as a quotation from Saint-Exupry (Neumann 1991, 33); it appears more credible, though, that it refers to the Russian cruiser "Aurora" (29) from another poem, "In eins". According to Goldschnigg, "Baobab" is "eine Vokalise" (Goldschnigg 1991, 101), an off-spring of a musical play with vowels. Furthermore, if a reader would replace "Baobab" with "Aurora", it would rhyme to die Trikolore in the first line of next stanza. In addition, one might interpret it in terms of a political landscape established by the two Brests. Until the Versailles Peace Settlement Germany possessed colonies overseas, in Africa and the Far East; thus, "Baobab" also has a discreet post-colonial undertone.
The clue to the third strophe hides in the word "tricolor" that immediately alludes to the French Revolution, and, "saluted [...] with a Russian word", also to the Russian flag and the Revolution. The treaty of Brest comes to mind again: Leo Trotsky protracted the negotiations in the hope that a socialist rebellion could occur in Germany and Austria, but it did not happen and Russia capitulated. "Lost was Not Lost" (ibid.) may seem an ironical remark on the outcome of the war or wars in general. It could also refer to the fall of the Habsburg Monarchy, the historical turning point that importantly predetermined the course of Celan's own life. Even though after the World War I the Bukovina became Romanian, the Bukovina Jews still adhered to the Austro-Hungarian traditions until 1940. Describing the unique character of Czernowitz, this "German-language Jewish city", the home to a "German-Jewish symbiosis", Israel Chalfen writes: "The Jews had seen the downfall of a world in the collapse of the Habsburg Monarchy. But among them, the Austrian tradition survived" (Chalfen 1991,12).
On the other hand, departing for the journey with "Nachmittag mit Zirkus und Zitadelle", Celan, like Dante in Divine Comedy, finds a fellow poet to accompany him: John Felstiner observes that Mandelstam, alongside Kafka, is a "tutelary spirit for Celan" (Felstiner 1991, 21). The double task of the poem - to describe that which is current and personal while recurring to the past - is best described with Celan's own words on Mandelstam's poetry:
Bei [...] Ossip Mandelstamm [ist] das Gedicht der Ort, wo das ber die Sprache Wahrnehmbare und Erreichbare um jene Mitte versammelt wird, von der her es Gestalt und Wahrheit gewinnt: um das die Stunde, die eigene und die der Welt, den Herzschlag und den on befragende Dasein dieses Einzelnen. Damit ist gesagt, in welchem Mae das Mandelstammsche Gedicht, das aus seinem Untergang wieder zutage tretende Gedicht eines Untergegangenen, uns Heutige angeht (Celan 1986, 623).
[For Osip Mandelstam the poem is the site where that which can be perceived and attained through language is assembled around that central point from where, it gains form and truth: around the existence of a singular being, who questions the heartbeat and the aeon. This expresses the extent, to which Mandelstam's poem, the poem of a sunken one, emerges to us today in levitation from its own sinking.] (30)
The collision of past and present occurs as a "tiger leap" in the first two lines. This image is borrowed from Walter Benjamin's 14th philosophic thesis, where he speaks about the possibility of the historical discontinuity as a tiger leap, "Tigersprung ins Vergangene" (Goldschnigg 1991, 100). The encounter of the two poets takes place and their dialogue begins. The "singing finiteness" brings to mind Mandelstam's listening first to the music of the incipient poem, which comes as if from nowhere and then later will be replaced by words (31). As it seems, Celan comments on this practice in the translation of an early poem, replacing "", "unsilent" with "unendlich", "endless" and "", "still" with "Schweigen", "silence".
The second stanza sets in with the harbor scenery which is unusually realistic for Celan and ends with the cruiser "Baobab-Aurora". The gull suspended over the sea reminds one of Mandelstam's poem translated by Celan, which includes the following lines:


[And swallows, when they flew
over the waterway to Egypt,
four days long they hung above,
without a wing scooping the waters.] (32)

The swallow appears frequently in Mandelstam's early poems and is associated with words. Motionlessly, suspended in the air they fly to Africa, where baobabs grow. Celan's meridian, as he emphasizes, crosses even the tropes. The baobab may also be a link in the series of the dryadic mutations of Mandelstam-Mandelbaum, reaching the acme in "Eine Gauner- oder Ganovenweise". The construction of three stanzas, and a rhyme, rarely used by Celan, are reminiscent of Mandelstam's style in [The Stone]. With the oxymoronic equalities Brest=Brest, Lost=Unlost, this poem could be called by Mandelstam the "Acmeist" one. In Morning of Acmeism Mandelstam writes:
A=A: what a magnificent theme for poetry! [...] The capacity for astonishment is the poet's greatest virtue. Yet how can we not be astonished by the law of identity, the most fruitful of all poetic laws? Whoever has experienced reverence and astonishment before this law is a true poet (Mandelstam 1991, 64).
For Celan, the anamnesis of the collective history and, at the same time, the singular moment of the encounter with the kindred poet are the material, the stone to reinforce "das Herz, ein befestigter Ort", the "heart a mighty fort". Brest, aside from being a proper name, is an obsolete or dialect word for frailty or sickliness. The heart needs to be befestigt, reinforced, so that it not be bresthaft, frail.
The poetic dialogue comes through even more clearly in the poem "In eins". Celan translated Mandelstam's poem " " (1920), with the first stanza like this:

(Celan 1986, 158).

Petersburg: es fhrt uns neu zusammen,
so als htten wir die Sonn begraben dort,
und es tritt, zum erstenmal, uns auf die Lippen
jenes selge, deutungslose Wort.
In der Jnnernacht, in ihrer Sammetschwrze,
und im Samt der Leere weltenweit
singen sie, der selgen Frauen traute Augen,
und es blht die Blume ohne Tod und Zeit (Ibid.).

The "word-//dilated eyes" from "In eins" clearly allude to the quotation above, and the sash taken from them alludes to the black velvet of night, which is called , Soviet, by the author and Jnner-, January, by his peer translator. The poem was written in January 1920, and the cold of this night is also transferred to "the icy light of the cruiser 'Aurora'", that finally finds itself at home, in St. Petersburg, mentioned by the name of Petropolis - thus Mandelstam calls his hometown in Tristia. The title Tristia itself suggests Ovid's somber elegies on exile. For this reason Petropolis is said to be the "wander city", "der Unvergessenen Wanderstadt". The stage for many of Mandelstam's poems in Tristia is Tuscany, and the name of the province, phonetically, is very close to Russian , melancholy or nostalgia. According to his widow Nadezhda, Mandelstam once replied to the question as to what Acmeism was, by saying: " ", "nostalgia for the world culture" (Mandelstam 1999, 296). Like "Nachmittag mit Zirkus und Zitadelle", "In eins" is highly loaded with historical reminiscences, which are extensively analysed by Jacques Derrida (Derrida 1994, 22-35). The poem, again, dwells on the two levels: it reflects the historical contexts and states the personal standpoint. Working on the Mandelstam translations, Celan once noted in the margins:

This motto is obviously valid for Celan's own writing as well. The topos of the meridian means this Ortung exactly, the location of one's coordinates in the world. Like the title and first lines of "Nachmittag mit Zirkus und Zitadelle", which provide the approximate time (afternoon) and whereabouts (Brest), "Eine Gauner- und Ganovenweise" starts with Paris under Pontoise, the starting point of an imaginary meridian that would connect Pontoise to Sadagora.
Although it is not unusual for Celan to play with anagrams of his proper name, this is the only poem in his oeuvre, where he writes his complete author's name, right in its title. Along with the geographical coordinates, as it seems from the first sight, this title strives to give the text an authentic identification, to fill it with specific, real context. As Peter Horst Neumann observes, "Czernowitz und Paris sind der Ausgangs- und der Endpunkt des Fluchtwegs" (Neumann 1990, 35), and it is clear, that these two points on the map are tightly bound to Celan's biography. But the closer analysis shows the inner contradiction. The actual geography is turned upside-down: Pontoise, the suburb of Paris, appears as a big city, and Paris - as its satellite, the same with the village Sadagora and Bukovina's main city Czernowitz. This distortion is more than geographic: it does not confuse the existing places, but rather the common-sense hierarchy of their representation - the minor and major exchange places. Already this simple inversion invites an inquiry into the legitimacy of a customary hierarchy, which automatically puts Sadagora bei (by, under) Czernowitz, Pontoise "emprs" (mangled aprs, after) Paris. But the proper name of Sadagora, as the research showed, is full with submerged meanings:
In German Sadagora is called Sadgora. What appears a slight misspelling in German is the Yiddish version of this name. Moreover, in Slovak this place is called Bukovina. Hence, Sadagora is the synecdoche of the country name. Sadgora was the birthplace of Celan's mother, who more than once represents Bukovina in Celan's poems. Sadgora is associated with the large Hassidic cemetery where, the tombs date back from 19th to 20th century. Since World War II, the cemetery has not been used for new burials and is now abandoned and rarely visited by tourists and descendants of those, who had been buried here (The AJGS Cemetery Project). More importantly, for a long period this place was the cradle of the mystical Eastern-European Hassidism, personified in the figure of the zaddik Israel Rushiner, who settled down in Sadgora and established his dvor there with much pomp:
So entstanden seit dem ausgehenden 18. Jahrhundert einige sehr bedeutende Zaddik-Dynastien, die - trotz vehementer Haskals (also Aufklrertum) vom Westen her - noch ber das 19.Jahrhundert fortbestanden, und zwar mit ausgeprgter und gelegentlich sogar prunkvoller Hof Haltung. Als Beispiel sei hier z.B. der Dvor von SADAGORA (in der Bukowina) genannt, wo bis 1914 der Sitz der Nachkommen des Wunderrabbis Israel der Ruschiner, des Grnder der Dynastie Friedman, war. [...] Er gehrte zu jenen - eigentlich wenigen - Zaddikim, die sich mit Pomp und einer prunkvollen Hof Haltung umgaben, ja sogar darin quasi ein Prinzip des Chassidismus sahen. Doch das Auftreten des 'chassidischen Melech' rief nicht nur den Argwohn der russischen Behrde, sondern auch die anderer frommer Juden hervor. Sein Fall wurde sozusagen zu einem 'Politikum', sogar im Zusammenhang eines Mordes, bzw. Anstiftung dazu, wo Israel der Ruschiner jedoch offensichtlich unschuldig, aber immerhin 22 Monate im Kiewer Kerker einsitzen mute. Diese Geschichte tat nichts gegen sein Ansehen, sondern brachte ihn vielmehr noch den Ruf eines Mrtyrers ein. Nach seiner Flucht aus dem Zarenreich lie er sich in Sadagora, unweit von Czernowitz, nieder, wo er ein so aufflliges Leben fhrte, da sich der Volksmund sogar erzhlte er wolle hier, in dem Stetl, einen Tempel wie jener in Jerusalem errichten (Hagalil Online).
In the opinion of Israel Chalfen, the culture brought by the German Jews to Czernowitz under the reign of Joseph II and kept until the breakdown in 1941, is the best example of successful "Jewish-German symbiosis". Chalfen describes the end of this once blossoming cultural landscape as follows:
In 1941, one hundred years after the zaddik from Ukrainian Rishin had found a second home for himself and for Hasidism in Sadagora near Czernowitz, his great-grandchildren were destined to be expelled from that home. Rabbi Ahron and Rabbi Mordechai Friedmann, leading their last faithful followers, Torah scrolls in their arms, set out on the painful path to the East, from which they would never return (Chalfen 1991, 19).
Mentioning Sadgora, Celan inscribes not only the memory of his mother into the poem, but the memory of the generations of German Jews who used to live in this place and were buried there. This cemetery is the opposite of the communal graves of the Holocaust: each stone bears a name and distinct dates of a single human life.
The name of the Parisian environ Pontoise is not less loaded with hidden significance, necessary for understanding this poem. A common medieval anti-Semitic superstition was that Jews used Christian blood to perform religious rites. The Jews were accused of abducting and killing Christian boys.
The ritual murder accusation became epidemic throughout Europe. The old Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. III, 266, lists the following cases, beginning with William of Norwich: 5 other cases given for the twelfth century, 15 for the thirteenth, 10 for the fourteenth, 16 for the fifteenth, 13 for the sixteenth, 8 for the seventeenth, 15 for the eighteenth, and 39 for the nineteenth, going right up to the year 1900 [total 113]. There have been many more cases in the 20th century (Online Medieval Sourcebook).
Based on this legend, many false martyrs were proclaimed saints. One of them was St. Richard of Pontoise. Numerous massacres in ghettos were organized as acts of rage for "innocently killed" children. The epigraph, taken from Heinrich Heine's poem An Edom, a poetical foreword to the novel Rabbi von Bacherach, shows that Celan had the pogroms in mind.
Heine began to work on Rabbi von Bacherach in 1825, but was disappointed with it and abandoned the novel. In 1840 he felt forced to continue: The pogroms in Damascus reminded Heine of the unfinished work. An alleged case of the ritual murder was the reason for these pogroms.
The first stanza of the poem is a response to Heine's ironical portrayal of the German-Jewish "symbiosis". Celan compares the memory of the Holocaust with Heine's indignation caused by pogroms. In the time of pogroms "gab es // ein Oben", "they had an On High". In the time of the gallows, the hanged victims retained faith in God and the singularity of death; during the Holocaust, the Below and the Above ceased to differ. This somber image emphasizes the incredible destructive power of the Holocaust machine.
The second stanza is, in my opinion, an indirect quotation of this text, written on the account of the Jewish graveyard in Sadagora by Czernowitzer author Alfred Margul-Sperber, a good friend and admirer of Celan in his Bucharest years:

Celan's Jewish beard, blown about, is not there anymore: "Where's my beard you pluck?" The Jewish patch refers to the badge, which would have been put onto Celan's sleeve had he been brought into a concentration camp. He was not.
"Hooked, so goes my nose". The hooked nose is an anti-Semitic Jewish stereotype. Having survived the Holocaust, Celan felt constrained to identify with the Jews.
Mandelbaum, the almond tree, as mentioned earlier, is a biblical symbol of the Jews. (34) Furthermore, as numerous critics have mentioned (Neumann, Glenn, Ivanovi, ivikov), is a reference to Mandelstam. The play with the phonetic mutations of the word Mandelbaum is more than an allusion to Galgenbaum (as noted by Neumann 1990, 36, Ivanovi 1999, 60); rather, it sounds like a paraphrase of Mandelstam's ("babble"):
What did my family want to say? I don't know. It was congenitally tongue-tied - yet it had something to say. Congenital tongue-tie hangs over my head and the heads of many contemporaries. We learned not to speak, but to babble, and only listening to the swelling noise of the age and whitened by the foam of its crest we acquire a language (Mandelstam 1965, 90).
There is also a further, indirect, reference to Mandelstam, contained in the name of Pontoise: as Axel Gellhaus observes, Pontoise is the birthplace of Franois Villon (Gellhaus 1997, 394), whose name is the title of Mandelstam's earliest Acmeist manifesto at the same time.
"Emprs", the mangled aprs, used in this context, is almost a slang expression, "eine Gauner- und Ganovenweise", thieves' cant. Neumann argues, that "diese 'Ganovenweise' ist eine Judenweise" (Neumann 1990, 34). Specifically, the inhabitants of Sadagora were called Gauner und Ganoven, rogues and gonifs (Gellhaus 1997, 394). In general, the Nazis treated all Jews as criminals. The distorted language also alludes to the stereotype about the Jewish speech-defects. The Jew's Mausheln is, as Sander Gilman writes, "the special language attributed to the Jew" that "is one of the central signs of the difference of the Jews. It can be a sign of biological immutability or of the social impact that formed them" (Gilman 1993, 36). Perhaps, Celan refers to Mandelstam's considerations about the tongue-tied Russian-German speaking Jews as well (Neumann 1990, 35). Moreover, the tentative version of the title reads: "Eine Gauner- und Ganovenweise, im Jahre 1961 gesungen von Pawel Lwowisch Tselan russkij pot in partibus nemetskich infidelium" (Celan 1995, 42). Here Celan uses the Russian version of his proper name, similar as he used the German "translation" of Mandelstam's name, as it was mentioned earlier. Annette Werberger interprets it as a reference to the poem written by Mandelstam in 1935 (Mandelstam 1999, 18), in which he uses his proper name too and calls it "[...] - // [] , " ["what a hell of a name - // [] it sounds crooked, not straight]. The final version, though, is signed with Celan's usual author's name, the date is removed together with the last part of the title, where Celan describes himself as a Russian poet among infidel Germans, and the geographic references, with all their pregnant meanings, are added instead. Erasing the date (1961) from the title, Celan tears the "Ganovenweise" out of the definite time and places it into a geography that never existed: Sadagora ranks above Czernowitz, Pontoise - above Paris, and all these names signify more than mere points on the map. In my opinion, this imaginary geography brings Celan much closer to the already mentioned Mandelstam's poem, in a deeper way. Mandelstam writes:

, .
, , ,
... (Ibid.)

[What street is it?
Mandelstam Street.
What a hell of a name-
no matter how you twist it,
it sounds crooked, not straight.
He was not very linear,
his nature was not lily-white,
and that is why this street,
or, rather, this hole
is named after that
Mandelstam.] (35)

Mandelstam wrote this poem during his banishment in Voronezh. He was arrested several times for his anti-Stalinist texts, and died in 1938 in Vladivostok on the way to a further destination, which he never reached and which Celan believed to be in Siberia (36). During the four years in Voronezh Mandelstam wrote his last book of poems, Voronezh Notebooks. The "Mandelstam Street" should lie in the outskirts of Voronezh that are described in these texts. Nadezhda Mandelstam remembers that her husband was impressed by many street names in the village of Nikol'skoe, near Voronezh. Under Peter the Great, Nikol'skoe was a place for banished criminals. Their descendants remembered this fact by naming the streets (37) - such as "Robers Road" or "Killers Street" (Mandelstam 1999, 168). Mandelstam was considered a criminal, too. He wrote this poem obviously alluding to the history of the place of his banishment. "Mandelstam Street" is an exact address, but it does not exist, it is a legend based on history and geography - precisely like Celan's big cities Sadagora and Pontoise. The "Mandelstam Street" is a mythical location, and another legend about a mythical Jewish city, the city of Sadagora, belongs to Israel Ruschiner. It is said that shortly before his death he asked his sons to come close to his bed and gave them a mandate to build the precise copy of the Jerusalem temple in Sadagora. This work, as the dying zaddik supposed, would glorify this place, so that from then on everyone would say "Czernowitz under Sadagora" and not "Sadagora by Czernowitz" (Hofbauer 1999).
The two focuses - on the global and on the individual - are permanently present and interlaced. The Jewish individuality, personified in "Gauner- und Ganovenweise" in the figure of Mandelstam, is opposed to the global history of Anti-Semitism from the medieval blood libel to the Holocaust. Passing through mutations, the word Mandelbaum, a variation of Mandelstamm, turns into Machandelbaum, juniper, which is a figure from Grimms' fairy tale (Neumann 1990, 36) and thus stands for Germany (38). In this tale, a little boy, is killed by an evil stepmother and eaten by his unsuspecting father; his little sister buries his bones under the juniper. This murder of an innocent child hints at St. Richard of Pontoise and at the legend of ritual murder, which forced Heine to write his poem. After the bones are buried, the juniper undergoes some mystical transformations, giving the little sister a sign that the soul of her brother has found its rest, and she returns home consoled. The singular event of the death leaves a mark on the surface of the earth (in the form of a tree) as well as a trace in someone's memory.
The italicized words "Friaul. Da htten wir, da htten wir" are a quotation from an old German mercenary song (Neumann 1990, 111), but this fact does not provide any further insights. It seems to me that Friuli could be an additional reminiscence to the Brothers Grimm. There is a parable about the war between the Lombards and the Huns, Romhild und Grimoald der Knabe (1816). The plot of this parable in some respects reminds of Von dem Machandelbaum (1814). The king is killed in the war, and his wife and children hide in a fortress called Friaul. As she casts a glance on the Hun king, she falls in love with him and tells him that she will open the gates in exchange for his promise of marriage. He accepts the offer. As a result, all men in Friaul are killed, all women and children captured, only the queen's children are able to flee. The smallest son is seen as a burden by the older brothers and they decide to kill him, but he makes a narrow escape (such as was Celan's escape from the deportations).
Both in Von dem Machandelbaum and Romhild und Grimoald der Knabe the murder is committed (or almost committed) by members of the victim's family. The line "Dulden wir uns brderlich" ("We tolerate each other as brothers") from Heine's poem comes to mind again. The Sadagora zaddik was accused of murder and spent almost two years in a custody in Kiev, which brought him the martyr's fame. The motif of the Jewish victim (personified in Mandelstam's spectres) combines with the libel ritual murders and is transformed finally into the fratricide.
The empty space, which separates the last stanza from the rest of the poem, stands for the Holocaust, which itself is an aporia, an impassability, "No pasarn", as Celan says in "In eins". The only thing that could go through, is a word, or a password - shibboleth. What happened here may be described with Celan's own words from the Bremer speech:
Reachable, near and unlost amid the losses, this one thing remained: the language. [] But it had to go through its own loss of answers, had to go through terrifying muteness, had to go through the thousand darknesses of deathbringing talk. It went through and gave no words for that which happened; yet it went through this happening. (Celan 1996, 127-128)
But the interupted poem starts again. "It gave no words" on the Holocaust, yet "it went through". The uncanny silence about the Holocaust is integrated into the structure of the poem and is followed up by the French word Envoi which indicates the concluding part of a work or a dedication. It corresponds to the beginning of the cycle, the preliminary line that reads: "Dem Andenken Ossip Mandelstamms". From his exile in France, the stranger Celan keeps the memory of the mass murder and needs "a brotherly hand" for that purpose. Like his "brother Ossip" (39), he is a tree that "bumt sich" ("shoots up") against the fascism, or "die Pest" ("the Plague"). At the same time, this reference to Camus leads back to the medieval accusation of the Jews: one of the alleged Jewish crimes was well poisoning and proliferation of plague. Thus the circle is closed. The word "went through"; the meridian journey reached the terminus, which concurs with the point of departure.


One of Celan's translations from Mandelstam, as is not unusual for Celan's translations in general, not only transfers the text, but also provides one with an elaborate commentary on it:

, ,
"!" - ,

, ,

[Your image, the racking and vague one -
I could not make it out in the fog.
Lord! - I said by mistake,
not intending to say that.

God's name, like a big bird,
flew away from inside my chest;
the dense fog swirls ahead,
and the empty cage is behind.]

Dein Gesicht, das qulend umrilose,
tief im Dunst - ich machts nicht aus.
"Herr," so sprach ich und versprach mich,
sprach ein Ungedachtes aus.

Gro, ein Vogel, flog der Name Gottes
aus dem Innern, war nicht mehr.
Vor mir Dunst und Nebel, dichter.
Hinter mir ein Kfig, leer (Celan 1986, 73).

[Your face, the rackingly uncontoured,
deep in the steam - I did not make it out.
Lord! - so I said and made a slip,
said something I had not thought.

Big, a bird, the God's name flew
from within, got lost.
Before me - steam and fog get denser.
Behind me - an empty cage.] (40)

This poem is from which means that it was written in the time when Mandelstam still avoided mentioning his Jewishness in the hope to become recognized as the Russian poet. But the character of the poem is obviously Judaic; it refers to the sinfulness of pronouncing the God's forbidden name.
The second stanza of the translation sounds strikingly different from the original. Losing the sacred word, Mandelstam's poet remains with the void in his , cage, or thorax. In Celan's adaptation, the poet himself becomes the homeless, lost word between the vagueness and the void.
Die Niemandsrose contains a poem, "Die Schleuse", where Celan speaks about the similar loss. Losing he word "sister", one loses the family. Losing the word Kaddish - the ability to recover from its death.
Kaddish is "the name of a Jewish prayer recited by relatives of a dead person" (Carson 1999, 36). Yizkor means "May God Remember" and also the name of a memorial service. Both prayers remember the dead, but in different ways: while Kaddish is the avowal of God's omnipotence, Yizkor summons the God to remember, too - together with the living.
As described in "Die Schleuse", the word Kaddish, which corresponds to the individual memory of a singular being, is lost to Vielgtterei . Precisely this ultimate law of the Jewish God - the veto upon the polytheism - was transgressed by the Jews, and the transgression indignated Moses so much that he broke the tablets. Kaddish, the word-tablet, the symbol of the rightful law, is lost and leaves Celan disconcolate in the lawlessness, the anarchy - the Judaic chaos, as Mandelstam might have said.
Kaddish, the individual memory, cannot be retrieved. Instead, the task of rescuing Yizkor - the collective memory - from the flood of oblivion must be completed: an arduous and probably ruinous task, since the outlets in the sluice are no wider than is necessary for the transition of a word. As soon as a culture - such as the culture of the Bukovinian German-Jewish "symbiosis" - collapses, the task of the poetic remembering ceases to be the rejoicing anamnesis and becomes the painful fight with the amnesia.
Celan keeps the memory of the Holocaust and incorporates it in his poems. The rememberance of Mandelstam's personal fate - his life in prosecution and death in camp - turned to be the collective fate of the Jews. Celan persisted in keeping this memory alive.


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  20. Emmerich, Wolfgang. Paul Celan, Reinbek bei Hamburg: rororo Verlag, 1999.
  21. Felstiner, John. Introduction. Paul Celan. A biography of his Youth. Trans. Maximilian Bleyleben. New York: Persea Books, 1991. Trans. of Paul Celan: eine Biografie seiner Jugend. 1979. xix-xxvi.
  22. Felstiner, John. Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew. New York: Leo Baeck Institute, 1997.
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  28. Ganz, Peter. "Fort aus Kannitverstan", German Life and Letters 47.3 (1994): 283-292.
  29. Gellhaus, Axel et al. "Fremde Nhe": Celan als bersetzer, eine Ausstellung, Marbach am Neckar: Deutsche Schillergesellschaft, 1997.
  30. Gilman, Sander L. The case of Sigmund Freud, Baltimore, London: John Hopkins University Press, 1993.
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  33. Heine, Heinrich. The Complete poems of Heinrich Heine, trans. Hal Draper. Boston: Suhrkamp/Insel, 1982.
  34. Hofbauer, Ernst. "Im Adelsschloss der Wunderrabbis." Wiener Zeitung Online.
  35. Exerpts from Verwehte Spuren. Von Lemberg bis Czernowitz. Ein Trummerfeld der Erinnerungen, Vienna: Ibera, 1999. 20 Jan. 2001. <>
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  39. Lacoue-Labarthe, Philippe. Poetry as Experience, trans. Andrea Taranowski, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999.
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  46. . "Shum vremeni [Noise of Time]", Collected Works, vol 2. New York: Inter-Language Associates, 1966.
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1. Cf: Gellhaus 1997, 394
2. Cf: "The family, and by extension, the Jewish people, should not move backward but forward [to assimilation], or so Mandelstam implies; they must join him in his flight from Jewish chaos" (Cavanagh 1995, 109).
3. Since the moment of a poem's emergency is the "instant of recognition", the poet is the reader of the one single book of the universal literature. In her recent article, Wai Chee Dimock argues that Mandelstam's poetry is to be understood not within the national boundaries, but in the context of the whole world literature - as well in the spatial as in the temporary sense. As she puts it, "[n]o milleage can tell us how far is one author from another; no dates can tell us who is close to whom" (Wai Chee Dimock 2001, 174).
4. Trans. Leonard Olschner.
5. Cf: "Kultur und Gedchtnis" (Bonola 1995, 45-54).
6. This sentence appears, too, as the epigraph to Celan's "Und mit dem Buch aus Tarussa".
7. "Paul Celan gilt heute als der bedeutendste Lyriker deutscher Sprache seit 1945. Seine 'Todesfuge' ist ein, ja vielleicht d a s Jahrhundertgedicht." (Emmerich 1999, 7)
8. On the reception in the USA: Ivanovi, Christine. "Celan in den USA", Celan-Jahrbuch, 7 (1998). In Italy: D'Agostini, Maria Enrica. "Paul Celan als bersetzer Ungarettis", Sehnsuchtsorte, ed. Bremer, Thomas and Jochen Heymann, Stauffenburg Verlag, Tbingen, 1999. In France: Broda, Martine. "Prsence de Paul Celan dans la posie contemporaine, Arcadia, 32, 1 (1997). In Japan: Mori, Osamu. "Celan in Japan", Celan-Jahrbuch, 7 (1998).
9. Edition "Cartea Rua", 1946, A Hero of our Time by Mikhail Lermontov and several stories by Anton Chekhov. (Emmerich 1999, 58).
10. Italics by the author.
11. The same stance was taken by several writers (such as Elias Cannetti or Nelly Sachs), who left Germany after the war, but continued to write in German in exile.
12. The approach to read Celan's text in terms of anatomy is to be found in: Bleier 1999. Dennis Schmidt's article "Black Milk and Blue"(Schmidt 1994, 110-129) offers an analysis of mystical and theological elements in Celan's poetry.
13. Cf. to the chapter "Krasse Bedeutungsenergien (Vulgarismen, Obszonitt, Blasphemie, technisch-wissenschaftliches Vokabular" in Menninghaus's Paul Celan. Magie der Form (Menninghaus 1980,195-208). Menninghaus mentions following examples: Duschraum, Wiederholungszwang, Hirntransplantant etc. On the usage of such words "beruht die Kritik und der melancholische Zynismus, der von den Versatzstcken des technisch-wissenschaftlichen Kosmos ausgeht" (Menninghaus 1980, 208).
14. Cf: Gellhaus 1997, 395.
15. At least, the Fascists wished this image to represent themselves. The concentration camp in Mikhailovka, for example, in which Celan's parent were killed, was not a perfectly functioning machine, it was an improvised ghetto, poorly organized and lacking any trace of technology. Nethertheless, in his critique of the Fascism, Celan mostly addresses its pervert emphasis on the mechanization of death.
16. Compare: "Celan hat fr den Gedichtband Schneepart [die Zeit-] Angaben gestrichen, genauer: in dem Gedichtband [] stehen sie nicht. Das freilich entspricht seinem sonstigen Brauch: in der Reinschrift sind die Gedichte datiert, in der Verffentlihung nicht." (Szondi 1972, 114).
17. This aspect is much discussed by Uta Werner in her recent book Textgrber: Paul Celans geologische Lyrik, Munich: Fink, 1998.
18. Cf: "Und er lebte und geno es in vollen Zgen" (Emmerich 1999, 61)
19. The poems are not dated, but Emmerich assumes that they were written at that time (Emmerich 1999, 65).
20. This image will appear again in Die Niemandsrose: "Judenlocke, wirst nicht grau." (Celan 1963, 42)
21. Cf: "Ge-//trunken hast du,// was von den Vtern mir kam// und von jenseits der Vter:// --Pneuma" (Celan 2001, 174). Pneuma means "spirit" in Greek.
22. Koelle, Lydia. Paul Celans pneumatisches Judentum :Gott-Rede und menschliche Existenz nach der Shoah, Mainz: Matthias-Grnewald, 1998.
23. Cf: "Dandelion, so green is the Ukraine.// My fair-haired mother did not come home" (Celan 2001, 21).
24. Cf: Freud 1974, 219-252.
25. Cf: Emmerich 1999, 110-111.
26. All poets are Yids", a quotation from Maria Tsvetaeva, which appears as an epigraph to "Und mit dem Buch aus Tarussa" (Celan 1963, 85)
27. Cf: Glenn 1973, Neumann 1991, Ivanovi 1999, ivikov 1992.
28. Cf: "[Der Mandelbaum ist] ein biblisches, dem Stamm Juda zugeschriebenes Symbol" (Ivanovi 1999, 60).
29. Cf: Goldschnigg 1991, 101.
30. Transcription mine.
31. On this practice see Mandelstam 1999, 83.
32. Transcription mine.
33. Transcription mine.
34. Cf: "[Der Mandelbaum ist] ein biblisches, dem Stamm Juda zugeschriebenes Symbol" (Ivanovi 1999, 60).
35. Transcription mine.
36. This erroneous statement is to be found in Celan's foreword to the volume of Mandelstam's translations and is embodied in the poem Sibirisch (Celan 1963, 46) and Hinausgekrnt (Celan 1963, 70).
37. " .. , , . , : , , ..." (Mandelstam 1999, 168).
38. Trying to reconstruct in his translation the complex word play, John Felstiner suggests "Allemandtree" for Machandelbaum, a precious find for the translator.
39. So calls Celan Mandelstam in a poem draft. Cf: Ivanovi 1999, 62.
40. Transcription mine.