If you are facing a literary analysis writing assignment on the lyric poetry of Paul Celan, the first place you need to start is with a topic.
Below are 20 topics you might want to use:
Aren’t those cool topics? Of course, they are because they open the deep background of Celan’s poetry. These topics are based on the facts about Paul Celan’s lyric poetry. However, if you have troubles conducting the analysis, visit our guide on analytical writing. Below is a sample essay on one of those 20 topics:
Survival’s guilt is a powerful psychological effect that often accompanies survivors of mass atrocities and war, including the labor camps and concentration camps so prevalent during the Second World War. For the poet Paul Celan, this took combined with the survival skills learned during his two years in the labor camps are responsible for pushing forward his need to seek therapy in whatever form was best suited for his situation. That form was the specific changing of the German vocabulary and use of the German language as the mother tongue for his poems.
It was in 1942 that Paul Celan left his mother and father to go into hiding. They opted not to follow in spite of the inherent risks of remaining at home. It was on this night that both were arrested, deported, and ended up dying in concentration camps. His father died of disease but his mother was shot and killed when she was no longer physically able to work. He was taken to a labor camp where he worked for two years before escaping. As part of his time there, Paul Celan developed survival skills the same as everyone else. These skills enabled him to compartmentalize his feelings, to place sympathy and empathy on the same playing field so as to avoid a break down. This skill also allowed him to ignore the unbearable sounds, smells, and sights through disassociation, wherein the individual remains in a trance-life state which is beyond that of consciousness. This is a complex psychological state of being, one which must be dealt with after the fact.
The manner in which Paul Celan dealt with it was through his poetry. Working through the survivor’s guilt and attempting to move beyond the disassociation and survival skills developed, the poet began to write his own works. While fluent in three languages and familiar with six, he learned German, a trait common among those who are dealing with mass atrocities; he learned his enemy and studied it deeply. During this time he opted to write all of his poetry in the German language. This language was the language of the people who murdered his mother, who took away his father, who put him in a camp himself, and more. But in writing in their language, the poet was able to gain some semblance of power back over his enemy who had taken so much from him. He was able to learn their ways, their meanings, and to not just write in their language but to change it.
Paul Celan was popular for the vocabulary he created for the sake of his poetry. He was popular for making new words, for using traditional German prefixes and postfixes and making words which are similar to commonly used phrases, but are slightly different. Indeed, part of the ability and ease with which this was done reflects upon the German language itself, a very practical language full of literal terms and very few figurative turns of phrase. But in addition to the Greek and Latin roots so prevalent in the German language, the poet opted to do this because it offered a mild form of therapy, a way of taking back the control that was lost to him at the hands of the Nazis. For a people whose entire goal in the war was to preserve their motherland and mother tongue, to make sure that their purity went on to create the master race, the manner in which the poet spliced their mother tongue into pieces and infiltrated the pure language they held so dear was a way to re-gain control over what they did, to show them that they had not achieved a victory over him, and to get back at them in the same invasive and deeply inappropriate fashion that they had done to him. He violated the sanctity of their native tongue as a way of violating one of the things they held most dear as a people and in this way achieved revenge for their violation of the sanctity of his family unit.
Celan, Paul, and Michael Hamburger. Poems Of Paul Celan. New York: Persea Books, 1989. Print.
Celan, Paul, and Pierre Joris. Paul Celan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. Print.
Celan, Paul, Barbara Wiedemann, and Nelly Sachs. Paul Celan, Nelly Sachs. Riverdale-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Sheep Meadow Press, 1995. Print.
Celan, Paul, Ilana Shmueli, and Susan H Gillespie. The Correspondence Of Paul Celan & Ilana Shmueli. Riverdale-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Sheep Meadow Press, 2010. Print.
Celan, Paul, Werner Hamacher, and Winfried Menninghaus. Paul Celan. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1988. Print.
Ives, Margaret C., Haskell M. Block, and Paul Celan. “The Poetry Of Paul Celan”. The Modern Language Review 89.2 (1994): 530. Web.
Meyerhofer, Nicholas J., Clarise Samuels, and Paul Celan. “Holocaust Visions: Surrealism And Existentialism In The Poetry Of Paul Celan”. German Studies Review 18.2 (1995): 364. Web.