What does it mean for poetry and music to turn to each other, in the shadow of the Holocaust, as a means of aesthetic self-reflection? How can their mutual mirroring, of such paramount importance to German Romanticism, be reconfigured to retain its validity after the Second World War? These are the core questions of Axel Englund's book, which is the first to address the topic of Paul Celan and music. Celan, a Jewish Holocaust survivor who has long been recognized as one of the most important poets of the German language, persistently evoked music and song in his oeuvre, from the juvenilia to the posthumous collections. Conversely, few post-war writers have inspired as large a body of contemporary music, including works by Harrison Birtwistle, Gyoergy Kurtag, Wolfgang Rihm, Peter Ruzicka and many others. Through rich close readings of poems and musical compositions, Englund's book engages the artistic media in a critical dialogue about the conditions of their existence. In so doing, it reveals their intersection as a site of profound conflict, where the very possibility of musical and poetic meaning is at stake, and confrontations of aesthetic transcendentality and historical remembrance are played out in the wake of twentieth-century trauma.
Axel Englund is Associate Professor of Literature at Stockholm University, Sweden. His research is primarily concerned with interrelations between the arts and media, in particular the music and poetry of the modernist era. His other fields of interest include twentieth-century exile literature, concepts of aesthetic authenticity, and representations of gender and sexuality in opera. In 2011, Englund was an Anna Lindh Fellow at Stanford University (Freeman Spogli Institute of International Studies) and he has held visiting scholarships at Columbia University (Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures) and Freie Universitat Berlin (Institut fur Theaterwissenschaft).
Contents: Introduction: poetry and music in conflict and convergence; Play death sweeter: musicality, metaphoricity, murder; Fire in the harp, in her hair: the lied and the lullaby; Rises and plays: interruptive repetition and the law of musical purity; Into you, into you I sing: spasmodic speech and the borders of the human body; We resound: music in and beyond the first person plural; Shattered the songs: dissonances of a German-Jewish musicality; Bibliography; Index.