Saturday, September 06, 2008

The draft from the well

The correspondence opens with Celan's poem "In Egypt", which he sends to his beloved, with the dedication "to one who is painfully precise", on her 22nd birthday. It contains a motif, so tantalising and uncomfortable, that it foreshadows the conflicts to come.
Sign and Sight translates a German newspaper article on the publication, fifteen years before it was originally scheduled for release, of Herzzeit, the correspondence between Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann.

As the article says, Bachmann wrote her PhD thesis on Heidegger, a subject with which we know Celan was familiar. Later Bachmann became friends with Thomas Bernhard who went on to make pained fun of her high regard for the philosopher. She appears as Maria the poet in Extinction whose companion Eisenberg "loves the same philosophy" and shares her "ideas about poetry". Could this be Celan? Probably not. But I sense some residual jealousy. In her biography, Gitta Honegger reports that: Bernhard bragged that Bachmann was in love with him, but 'she was too much for him'. And in another of his novels, the main character Reger says "I feel sick to his day" that "one of my best women friends wrote a dissertation about Heidegger". Heidegger "that ridiculous Nazi philistine in plus fours ... a charlatan who merely utilized everything around him and who, during that utilization, sunned himself on his bench at Todtnauberg."

To see for yourself where such sunning took place, Another Heidegger Blog provides some dreamy (or smudged) wallpaper for your desktop, including a close-up of the "Sternwürfel drauf" as mentioned in Celan's great poem.


Please email me at steve dot mitchelmore at gmail dot com.

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