Paul Celan is the greatest German-language poet after Rilke. His 'intolerable wrestle with words and meanings' evolved an inimitable originality. He dominates literature in the aftermath of the Holocaust by means of his attempt to redeem the human tongue from its terrible history.
Fathomsuns, published in 1968, is his longest collection and one of his most ambitious. Benighted is a sequence of 11 poems. It appeared in an anthology of 'abandoned works' by various authors published by Suhrkamp Verlag in 1968. Translated here in full for the first time, these works show Celan at his most provocative and unassimilable.
For Celan, writing such as this 'names and places, attempts to measure the range of the given and the possible'. The language, twisted, broken and restored, engages the world urgently; how it reckons with past and present is imperatively urgent. After years of refinement Ian Fairley's award-winning translations bring the English reader as close as he is likely to come to these compact, mighty acts of resistance, provocation and lament.