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Paul Celan and Martin Heidegger: An Unresolved Conversation, 1951-1970 Hardcover – January 18, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0801883026 ISBN-10: 0801883024 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews


Lyon succeeds in presenting the explicit and implicit relation between the major philosopher and the most challenging poet of twentieth-century Europe, Martin Heidegger and Paul Celan, with much sound and original scholarship and ample coverage of what was already known. He provides a full chronological and topical picture of the philosophical, poetic, and personal issues that both bind and distance the two men, while at the same time, ultimately letting the reader decide how to assess their crucial relationship. In achieving this, he rectifies the overly tilted anti-Heidegger view that has prevailed.

(John Felstiner, Stanford University)

Lyon's study is a thorough and convincingly argued study... one that will undoubtedly provide the basis for future studies of the relationship between the poet Celan and the philosopher Heidegger.

(Mark Grzeskowiak Seminar: Journal of Germanic Studies)

Lyon's scholarship throughout is thorough, and well collected in this readable account.

(Richard Hamilton Philosophy in Review)

About the Author

James K. Lyon is a professor of German at Brigham Young University.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition (January 18, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801883024
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801883026
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,331,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
One of Paul Celan's most widely-known works is "Todtnauberg", which enigmatically documents the poet and Holocaust survivor's meeting with the philosopher and unrepentant Nazi supporter Martin Heidegger. But Celan's engagement with Heidegger was much vaster than his 1967 visit to the philosopher's estate. Celan had been reading Heidegger since the early 1950s, they met more than once, and their correspondence lasted until Celan's suicide in 1970. James K. Lyon documents this uneasy relationship in his monograph PAUL CELAN AND MARTIN HEIDEGGER: An Unresolved Conversation.

Charting Celan's reading of Heidegger is a task made easy by the poet's habit of scribbling in the margins of books he owned, including such details as the date he finished reading them. The basic chronology for Celan's study is thus established. Lyon's interpretation of many of Celan's markings is highly speculative. Nonetheless, it is clear that Celan's poetic language and thematics were enormously influenced by what he read in Heidegger. A poem in Celan's difficult late collection FADENSONNEN, one that had long baffled me, is readily made clear by one passage in Heidegger.

By the end of the 1950s, a correspondence had been established between Celan and Heidegger. Only a couple of letters survive, but contact between the two is attested by mutual acquaintances like Otto Pöggeler. Lyon exhaustively documents Heiddeger's influence on Celan's poetics. It is not only the poetry that shows the profound traces of Heidegger's thought, but also Celan's 1961 speech "The Meridian" benefits from a knowledge of the philosopher's work. That said, Lyon notes that many of Celan's ideas predate his discovery of Heidegger, but the poet did find the philosopher's unique language helpful for expressing those ideas.
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