Romanian Poems (Romanian) Paperback – May 1 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Before his decisive move to writing in German after 1948, Paul Celan (1920-1970), who grew up in Bukovina, wrote poetry in Romanian; work from 1945 to 1947 is here collected in Romanian Poems. With facing-page translations by Julian Semilian and Sanda Agalidi, these 17 poems and prose pieces alter Celan's oeuvre, and are essential to it.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Born in Bukovina (now part of Romania) Celan saw his father and mother die because of the Nazi take over of their country and their imprisonment in camps. He spent most of his life in Paris writing in German before committing suicide.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The introduction further describes these Romanian pieces as "somewhat 'secret' or private" writings--texts that Celan "did not translate, publicize or intend to publish." I found these pieces to be strange and surreal--overall this body of work reminds me of some of Gertrude Stein's adventurous writings. Celan uses words in odd, hard-to-decipher combinations; he often creates weird and striking imagery. There are occasional cultural references--Spanish dancers, Columbus, the Great Southern Cross, etc. But overall, there is very little in the poems that anchor them to identifiable historic or cultural moments. They feel more like deeply personal psychological phenomena. He also frequently uses the pronouns "I," "you," "we," or variations thereof.
Here are sample fragments that may give a sense of the overall flavor of the book: "Our phosphorescent eyeballs will scurry down from the walls"; "I offer my fingers bloodied by the floating spines of the nocturnal sky." Other interesting phrases include "a chiming of celibate coins," "the leprosied curtain of the bloodstained tents," and "the razor-edged fanfare of the eyeless platoon." This bilingual edition presents the Romanian and English versions on facing pages. Although I can neither read nor speak Romanian, I appreciated having the distinctive-looking Romanian text available; it adds visual excitement to the overall presentation. Overall, I found these poems too obscure for my taste. Still, the cryptic quality, dreamlike images and often striking language of these pieces make them oddly compelling.