The renowned poets Itzik Manger (1901-1969) and Paul Celan (1920-1970) wrote primarily in Yiddish and in German, respectively, and their work further differed on numerous stylistic and thematic counts. In the wake of the Shoah, their differences seemed only to intensify, and, as Alexander Spiegelblatt once argued, “the linguistic abyss threatened to engulf them both.” Manger and Celan shared, however, a specific biographical context: the multilingual milieu of Czernowitz (in what is now Ukraine), where both were born and raised. In this talk, these poets’ shared birthplace serves as a point of departure and provides a context in which to situate a set of archival documents held at the National Library of Israel. These documents—including Manger’s trilingual notebooks and his youthful experiments with romanization and translation, as well as materials pertaining to Celan’s visit to Israel in 1969 and later Yiddish-language correspondence that cites and invokes his life and poetry—shed new light on the relationship between Yiddish and German writing. Building on the scholarship of Spiegelblatt and Efrat Gal-Ed, as well as recent studies of the multilingual archives of Israeli writers, this lecture will analyze these documents and related texts by Manger and Celan and consider what a comparison of these two poets can reveal about the filiations and constitutive tensions of Jewish literature in the twentieth century.
Matthew Johnson, PhD Candidate, Department of Germanic Studies, University of Chicago
7 pm Israel time, 5 pm London time, 12 pm EST
Sunday June 13th 3 Tamuz 07:00 - 08:00
Online Zoom Event Map
Itzik Manger's notebooks, NLI (ARC.4* 1357 02 22)