Celan, Goethe, Hahneman, Handke and more.

Weihnachtsgruß des Ehepaares Celan: auf Seite 1 die eigenh. Grußworte von Paul Celan: „Alles Frohe! / Gisèle und Paul Celan / Paris, Weihnachten 1955“, auf Seite 2 die eigenh. Nieder- schrift seines Liebesgedichts „Auch wir wollen sein“

Skimming the Franfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of 10.07.2010 (and then having to buy 2 of the articles for € 2 each — i.e. basically the price of the whole Sunday Times here in NYC) — I came across these bits which may be of interest:

— What do a JS Bach receipt for 32 cents (well, groschen) for piano-rental, a batch of letters from Goethe to Legationsrat Falk, a hitherto unpublished collection of medical notes and suggestions by homeopathy founder Samuel Hahneman, and 5 missives from Friedrich Nietzsche to his English friend Emily Frym have in common? Answer: €140,000. i.e. the price each one of these items or bundles fetched at an auction of literary things chez Stargardt in Berlin. The prices seem to have gone through the roof (unless things had been very carefully underpriced). Another item in the auction was a ms. of a poem by Paul Celan (see pix above) which went from a starting price € 1600 up to € 7000.

— In another article in the same paper, Germanist Jürgen Brokoff asks — 15 years after the Srebenica massacre of Bosnian Muslims by Serb militias — if in Peter Handke’s books one can separate the literary from the political, as the critics, according to Brokoff, have been doing these last few years in order to be able to save Handke qua writer from his political involvements (I of course immediately thought of Ezra Pound). Brokoff concludes: “It is an extenuation to criticize Handke for his supposedly naive political statements. This author’s true sin does not take place in the arena of the political, but in the literary arena. The  extremely clever and text-wise strategically placed borrowings from the language of Serbian nationalism, the anti-Muslim and anti-Albanian insinuations on the symbolic level and his derision of the Muslim victims of the Bosnian war make this clear.” [ “Es ist eine Verharmlosung, Handke für seine vermeintlich naiven politischen Stellungnahmen zu kritisieren. Der eigentliche Sündenfall dieses Autors ereignet sich nicht auf dem Feld des Politischen, sondern auf dem Feld des Literarischen. Die textstrategisch äußerst geschickten Anleihen bei der Sprache des serbischen Nationalismus, seine antimuslimischen und antialbanischen Insinuationen auf der symbolischen Ebene und seine Verhöhnung der muslimischen Opfer des Bosnien-Krieges machen dies deutlich.”] I do not know Handke’s reent work well enough to corroborate this take, but if it is so, then the comparison with Pound is fallacious, as there is for me a very clear split in that case: Pound, the man, was clearly fascist — but his major work, The Cantos, are not. I would certainly argue in EP’s case that the poem won out over the man.

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4 Responses

  1. WELl, I PAID for the bloody Brokoff article twice and didn’t get it. However, he addresses my very subject, see:
    This looks like utter nonsense as far as I can tell. If Handke is guilty of anything, is then bailing out when Milosevics asked him as a witness for the defense. Handke denies nothing, nor distorts anything, but you could send me the piece in totality and the various Germanisten and those who have followed the controversy closely will have a field day on a new page on the yugo blog.
    everyone is encouraged to be a nationalist, but the serbians. no one asks about the economic warfare that destroyed the federation. and all kinds of humanity hyenas in europe and the u.s.
    can have a field day in their righteousness. never has there been greater proof of the dialectic of the enlightenment. xx

  2. I wanted to let you know that the entire text can be found and criticized point by point by your’s truly [!] at the following page of my handke-yugo blogspot:

    I know, Ezra is what might come to mind in an instance of Handke going very much his own way. But I don’t think this analogy sheds any light whatsoever on the present circumstance, which involves justice, exhibitionism, identity formations – Old Ezra after all felt that Mussolini, Italian fascism might afford a kind of state sponsored forever support for art…. and he hated old money bags Uncle Sam as fiercely as anyone ever has…http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name

  3. carla bolte says:

    I don’t know about Handke, but Pound was pretty crazy, wasn’t he? I’m guessing bipolar. He sort of lost it at the end there, seriously babbling and wildly grandiose and out of touch with reality. I designed a book of his letters from prison of OUP, collected by his son, I believe, and my impression was he was very broken down. (Ezra Pound, Letters in Captivity)

    He recanted later, of course (who wouldn’t?), but I believe he may have come to his senses a bit. Michael makes a good point about his yearning for purity of art and language, and his hatred of usury in general. They seem to have combined into a paranoid storm of invective; he was much encouraged and I think too fragile to fend for himself. He was, basically, a good and generous man overlaid with such complex mental and emotional turbulence. Not to mention genius.

    Good heavens, is that YOU, Michael Roloff? For whom I designed a Sam Shepherd cover a few decades ago?? (Rather badly, as I recall; you were most gracious.) How/where are you these days?

    Hi Pierre, happy almost birthday!!

  4. I don’t think Pound was crazy, and the loose use
    of bi-polar is ridiculous. He was uncompromising that’s all, a phantast? But then so are all romantics. he had his hates and loves and he went by them. to call anyone crazy who radically differs from the blood “norm” – well, the norm does it all the time. http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name

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