Thresholds, Encounters

Paul Celan and the Claim of Philology

Edited by Kristina Mendicino & Dominik Zechner

Subjects: Literary Criticism, Continental Philosophy, German Studies, Translation
Series: SUNY series, Literature . . . in Theory
Hardcover : 9781438494418, 324 pages, September 2023
Paperback : 9781438494401, 324 pages, March 2024

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Table of contents

Dis-positions: Introduction
Kristina Mendicino and Dominik Zechner

Part 1: Ex-posing the Poem


1. “In the Swell of Wandering Words”: Celan’s “Sprich auch du”
Michael G. Levine

2. A Different Witness: Bearing with the Past in Paul Celan’s “Engführung”
Simone Stirner


3. Flower Talk
Jan Mieszkowski

4. Poetic Involution: Adorno, Celan, Nature
Natalie Lozinski-Veach


5. Allophony: Celan’s Niemandsrosen-Lieder
Michael Auer

6. “A Chest Full of Cello Boughs”: The Sonorous Force of Writing in Deconstructive Readings of Celan
Naomi Waltham-Smith

Part 2: Language Dislodged


7. A limine
Kristina Mendicino

8. With—Paul Celan
Pasqual Solass


9. Occupiability
Sarah Stoll, trans. Aida Feng

10. For Shame of Language
Dominik Zechner


11. Poetic Approach: Celan’s Radio Essay “Die Dichtung Ossip Mandelstamms”
Irina Kogan

12. The Mimetic Desire of Translation: Reading Celan and Derrida with Girard
Christine Frank

List of Contributors

Explores the various ways in which poetic and philosophical writing meet in texts by, and on, Paul Celan.


Paul Celan's works dwell on the threshold between the extremes of poetic expression and philosophical reflection. The divergent literary and critical idioms that have marked Celan's writing—and that Celan's writing has come to mark for others (Hamacher, Derrida, Szondi)—thus call for a new philology. This philology cannot be situated within presupposed genres or fields but rather explores the ways in which poetic and philosophical ambitions meet in texts by, and on, Celan. The first part of Thresholds, Encounters ("Ex-posing the Poem") speaks to issues of history, ecology, and aurality; the second part ("Language Dislodged") delves into Celan's articulations of encounter, positionality, and translation. Throughout, contributors probe the consequences of Celan's poetry for thinking and writing, while inviting readers from different disciplinary spaces to further pace out the liminal zones opened by his oeuvre.

Kristina Mendicino is Associate Professor of German Studies at Brown University. She is the author of Announcements: On Novelty and Passive Voices (On the Subject of Phenomenology and Other Figures of Speech), both published by SUNY Press. Dominik Zechner is Assistant Professor of German at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.


"…this book stakes its 'claim of philology' by estranging preexisting critical positions on Celan and fathoming his multivocal idioms as if for the first time." — Critical Inquiry

"Beautiful and very open in its structure, Thresholds, Encounters is an invitation to dialogue." — Ilit Ferber, author of Language Pangs: On Pain and the Origin of Language

"The volume demonstrates an exemplary fidelity to a practice of philology that is attentive to language's capacity for ungrounding its propositions. It would not be an exaggeration to describe these performances of reading as tours de force." — Jason Groves, author of The Geological Unconscious: German Literature and the Mineral Imaginary