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Title: The Poem at the Border of Translation: Osip Mandelstam, Paul Celan, and the Lives of the Word
Authors: Schnairsohn, Leeore
Advisors: Hasty, Olga P
Contributors: Comparative Literature Department
Keywords: Celan
Subjects: Comparative literature
Slavic literature
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: When the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938) died, he left behind a trove of analytical and critical prose: essays, reviews, and long pieces of literary criticism many of which can now fall under the aegis of theory. Within this multifarious body of work, few of whose components are clearly aware of their place in the whole or their debt to a general organizing principle, two strands of thinking emerge which dominate the poet's evolving understanding of the poetic word. These are the life of the word and the role of the reader. Over the course of Mandelstam's career as a prose writer and literary critic (roughly 1913 to 1934), these two strands, word and reader, come ever closer together. This dissertation argues that they finally merge in the Conversation about Dante, Mandelstam's final, longest, and most involved piece of literary criticism. We argue as well that, at this point of convergence, Mandelstam's poetics comes closest to including translation in its conceptual point of view. There are several strong reasons that this poet would have been disinclined to consider translation as theoretically interesting; but the shadow of translation is nonetheless there in his thinking. It is thus fitting that the Bukovinian poet Paul Celan (1920-1970), whose experience of Mandelstam was chiefly as his first translator into German, was able in his own critical writing to add another dimension to Mandelstam's theory of poetic discourse--one, we argue, that depends upon an open consideration of translation. This dissertation traces a kinship across time and death, one whose workings are based in the life and afterlife of the poetic word. From it emerges a model of reading and translation that is both appropriative and generous. Mandelstam and Celan claim that the reader constitutes the text not only as it is being read, but also as it is being written; thus every text is written toward its own translation.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Comparative Literature

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