Hg.: Bertrand Badiou

Paul Celan - A Biography in Pictures

Edited by Bertrand Badiou in cooperation with Nicolas Geibel
(German title: Paul Celan)
ca. 500 pages
Bertrand Badiou

Bertrand Badiou

Bertrand Badiou (born 1957) is the co-director of the Paul Celan Department at the École normale supérieure in Paris, editor of Celan’s works and letters in Germany (Suhrkamp Verlag) and in France (Éditions du Seuil). Together with Eric Celan he manages the poet’s estate.

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Celan Year 2020 – 100th birthday (April 20) and 50th anniversary of his death (November 23)

»Persevering, despite everything.«

The first comprehensive biography in pictures of the life of the most-interpreted German-language poet after 1945

Drawing on many hitherto unknown image sources, including substantial excerpts from the still unpublished diaries


The richness and novelty of its sources make this biography the first to provide comprehensive details about Paul Celan’s entire life in both texts and images.

In doing so, it avowedly enters into an area of tension and confronts a twofold challenge: For Paul Celan firmly rejected the biographical, especially a biographical approach to his poetry, and moreover, he was decidedly sceptical about the medium of photography. There was but one framed photograph displayed in his apartment: the one picture Celan had of his mother, who was murdered in Ukraine by the SS aged 47.

And still, this documentary attempts to give a report of Celan’s life that is as powerful as it is episodic with images that require explanation and in texts that are accompanied by images. Because the ethical and poetological dimension of his life is indelibly inscribed in every anecdote and every picture, as much as they may seem stuck to the surface and in violation of Celan’s apodictic statement that »True poetry is antibiographic«.

And so this book draws on private photographic archives and on Celan’s estate, particularly on the still unpublished diaries, notably in those instances where the poet talks as though to himself about his mental struggles, his poetic work and resistance. Here they are quoted at length for the first time.