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2024 Vol. 15 №2

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On the Poetic Dispute between Paul Celan and Johannes Bobrowski



The main purpose of this work is to explore the experience of confronting guilt ‘after Auschwitz’ in the creative dialogue between two significant poets of the twentieth century — Paul Celan and Johannes Bobrowski. Despite their importance, their works remain inade­quately studied, particularly in the context of the interaction between language and existence, or more precisely, poetic semiotics and the ontological foundation of existence. Sander Gil­man, an American Germanist, in his work “Why and How I Study German” aimed at stu­dents of the German language in the United States, notes: “Learning German means under­standing the path that leads from the text to the crematory”. Celan shared a similar senti­ment. Bobrowski, while agreeing with Celan's belief that Auschwitz revealed the infernal nature of the German language, attempted to counter him by suggesting that even within the language of the underworld, a poet could serve as a synergistic participant in the manifesta­tion of Truth from the Light of Truth in the performative "production of the presence" of God. One of those who supported him in this argument was perhaps the most complex author in German history, Hamann, whom Goethe considered to be “the brightest mind of his time” and the future “forefather and teacher” of all Germans. In this context, the poetic dialogue between Celan and Bobrowski concerning the German ‘language after Auschwitz’ could be seen as an effort to prevent its complete deontologization, due to what the philosopher Hei­degger referred to as “the lack of holy names," stemming from “the defining characteristic of the present era of the world being the closed dimension of the Sacred”.


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