One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Grass, Celan, & Todtnauberg II

Grass's My Century is an oleagenious mix of fact and fiction. Strategically placing his anonymous narrator at the center of the action, he laces a discussion of the famed meeting between Celan and Heidegger with the troubled narrative of the '60's (Chapters 1966 & 1967).

One detail that is apparently a fact is that Celan altered the text, at some point deleting the parenthetical ungesaumt kommendes (Felstiner's "undelayed coming") and simply writing kommendes.

Via his narrator, here is part of Grass's account:

     Although I imparted these and other reminiscences to the students, I could respond to the question posed by the inquisitive one among them about what I thought had or had not been spoken of in the cottage only by referring to the poem "Todtnauberg" itself. I pointed out many clues. The plant name "arnica," which the poet also calls Augentrost, "comfort for the eyes," allows of many interpretations. The well in front of the cottage with its three-dimensional star is likewise rich in associations. Then too there is the guest book, which plays a central role in the poem--serves as its heart, one might say--and which the poet signs, wondering fearfully "whose name it had before mine," yet surely full of "hope, today, for a thinker's coming word in the heart"; moreover, the words in parentheses, "forthwith coming," later deleted by the poet, lend a certain urgency to the wish, which, as we know, was never granted. What we do not know, what remains conjecture, can scarcely be surmised and therefore keeps the wound open is what was put into words or kept silent in the cottage....
Post a Comment