Maya Barzilai: "One Should Finally Learn How to Read this Breath:" Paul Celan and the Buber-Rosenzweig Bible
Sunday, February 26, 2017 - 3:00pm
The North Carolina Jewish Studies Seminar presents a seminar with Professor Maya Barzilai . The human breath and the Hebrew language are both central components of Paul Celan's poetic thought, but what is the relationship between the two? My essay answers this question by focusing on Celan's dialogue with Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig's Bible translation, begun in the mid-1920s. Celan's notes to the famous Meridian speech reveal his familiarity with Buber and Rosenzweig's essays on translation, and, specifically, with their use of the "cola" as a unit of rhythm and breath ("Kolometrie"). Through the "colometric" approach to translation, Buber and Rosenzweig sought to suffuse their German with the breath of the original Hebrew scripture. Celan's "breathturn" was also, I maintain, a return to this controversial Bible translation project, expanding on its premises to include original writing in German as a post-Holocaust form of translation.Maya Barzilai is assistant professor of Hebrew literature and Jewish culture at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She received her MA in Comparative Literature from the Hebrew University in 2002 and her PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2009. Her comparative scholarship concerns the emergence of Hebrew literature through adaptation and translation, particularly from and into German and Yiddish.