Event 15

Paul Celan from Bucarest to Vienna (1945-1948)


Venue: Campus de Santa Cruz la Real, Universidad IE, Aula Magna

The Vienna in which Paul Celan arrived in December 1947 was a black-and-white city. It was the beginning of the Cold War, when goods and people were being smuggled and personalities of political interest for the Soviets were being kidnapped. A city which is best illustrated by a classic in the film noir: The third man, written by Graham Greene and performed by Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten. Although Celan stayed in the Austrian capital for a short time, this period was a turning point in his life and the subsequent work of the author of Escape of death, probably the most translated and commented German-written poem in history. In Vienna Celan was successful with his literary work for the first time; there he met Ingeborg Bachmann and some other friends who were vital to the dissemination of his work. His complex and fascinating personality made him very soon a character in two novels written by Austrian authors. Vienna was the German-speaking city where he spent the most time and where he was confronted with issues which would profoundly mark his poetry: a latent or clear antisemitism, relative hypocrisy towards the crimes committed by the National Socialists, mediocracy and opportunism in the literary world.

The translator and writer José Aníbal Campos will present from Vienna and by videoconference the book Los meses vieneses de Paul Celan (which will soon be published by the editorial La Moderna at the initiative of the Austrian Cultural Forum), where he collects important accounts on Celan´s stay in the Austrian capital and provides clues about the reasons why the Rumanian poet decided to continue his journey to Paris despite the tacit promise of a successful literary career.

Iona Zlotescu, Hispanicist and translator, director of the Cervantes Institute in Bucharest (2000-2006) will evoke the Bucharest period (1945-1947) of Paul Celan, relying on the book by Petre Solomon – one of the poet’s great Romanian friends – entitled, in the Spanish translation by Xavier Montoliu Pauli “Paul Celan y Rumaní: la adolescencia de un adios”. It is in Bucharest that Paul Antschel, turned into Paul Celan, will publish his first text, the famous Todesfugue (“Death Fugue”) translated from German into Romanian by Petre Solomon. And it is in the Romanian capital where Paul Celan will be aware of its poetic value and it will further open his literary horizons.

This session will be streamed live at youtube.com/user/IEUniversity

Photographies: “The Viennese” and Paul’s arrival document to Vienna © DLA Marbach; Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann © Heirs of Ingeborg Bachmann
Photographies of Iona Zlotescu and María Pop: courtesy of Instituto Cultural Rumano

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Paul Celan from Bucarest to Vienna (1945-1948)