While we await the critical and fully annotated edition of Celan’s verse, this collection helpfully deepens his mystery.



Celan is commonly regarded as the most important poet to write in German since Rilke, but many of his poems remain untranslated and very few are known by English readers. Many lines of Celan sound like uncanny echoes of Heiddegger: “Undebecome, everywhere / gather yourself, / stand.” Even the translator admits of the poems that “their readability is still an issue.” And not only because of the complex philosophy they enact, but because many are autobiographical in nature, referencing specific times, places, and people. Footnotes, which all editors and translators of Celan agree are necessary supplements, are sparse here: they are offered “more as a map of our ignorance than as a showcase for our knowledge.” Once the difficulties of the project are acknowledged, any reader of Celan will be happy to have this competent translation (with facing German text) of an important late collection. The comparative lyricism and directness of Celan’s early verse gave way, in the mid-1960s, to the leaner, more obdurate music of his late style. The poems are full of compound nouns (the jawbreaking “verse-fibula-yoke” is a translation of “Versspangen-Joch”), neologisms, and radical disjunctures of prosody. Joris’s valiant efforts to render Celan into readable and adequately inventive English are not as elegant as Michael Hamburger’s (Celan’s most gifted translator), but they do occasionally manage to strike very close to what Celan suggestively calls “the missing target”: “You, too, with all / the instrangedness in you, / instrange yourself, / deeper, / the One / string / tenses its pain below you, / the missing target / radiates, bow.”

While we await the critical and fully annotated edition of Celan’s verse, this collection helpfully deepens his mystery.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2000

ISBN: 1-55713-294-1

Page Count: 280

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2000

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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