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Updated Up To 18/01/2017
Volume 10, Issue 2 (June 2012) : 223-240
Falling Upwards
Paul Celanís Poetics of the Abyss
Antti Salminen
Rubric A: Topoi
Rubric B: German Literature


The abyss, the German Abgrund, is a recurring concept and motif which Paul Celan addresses in both his poetics and poetry. The abyss-like quality of Celanís poetry did not emerge unheralded, but the Abgrund topos has been little researched. This paper argues that in Celan Abgrund functions as both a thematic image and textual practice. The Abgrund topos is motivated by rich allusions to Celanís literary sources. Celanís abysses have a paradoxical twofold function. On the one hand the abyss is an ultimate end-point in which significance and value are doomed to collapse; on the other hand, building on that non-foundation is the source of Celanís poetic craft.

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