Poetics of the Unfinished: Illuminating Paul Celan's Eingedunkelt

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Poetics of the Unfinished: Illuminating Paul Celan's Eingedunkelt

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Title: Poetics of the Unfinished: Illuminating Paul Celan's Eingedunkelt
Author: Connolly, Thomas
Citation: Connolly, Thomas. 2012. Poetics of the Unfinished: Illuminating Paul Celan's Eingedunkelt. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: This thesis aims to challenge a number of critical assumptions that have unnecessarily restricted the way we read Paul Celan's work, and poetry in general, by reading an unfinished cycle of poems called 'Eingedunkelt.' The poems were written during the Spring of 1966, when Celan was incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital in Paris, and have received little critical attention since their initial partial publication in 1968, their more extensive publication in 1991, and the exhaustive publication of the transcription of all genetic documents in 2006. The thesis consists of three chapters, the last two of which are divided into two parts. The opening chapter confronts the poems in 'Eingedunkelt' as they are now available to us as genetic documents, and engages with current theories of genetic criticism to explore new ways of reading and creating meaning within the avant-texte. Although studies of Celan's work have proliferated since his death in 1970, very few critics have been willing to look beyond the formulation of the poetics Celan defines in his 1960 Büchner prize speech 'Der Meridian.' Chapters Two and Three therefore seek to identify the presence in 'Eingedunkelt' of alternative ways of thinking about poetry that do not necessarily conform to the poetics most explicitly outlined in 1960, and that allow for the very real possibility that Celan's conception of his poetic task was often challenged and maybe even transformed. Through Celan's engagement with Stéphane Mallarmé and Jean-Paul Sartre, Chapter Two identifies the development of a poetics of suicide, according to which each poem rehearses the poet's final and greatest creative act in his or her own self-destruction. Chapter Three recognizes the existence of a counter-poetics of life through Celan's lifelong interaction with the paintings of Rembrandt van Rijn, in which the material qualities of dried oil paint, which mimic the organic qualities of human skin, offer a way to create a living, breathing, but also decaying memorial to those who died in the Shoah. This provides the platform for Celan's poetic critique of both the 1963 - 1965 Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, and Peter Weiss's 1965 dramatization of the Trial, 'Die Ermittlung.'
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10330316
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