Cover of Poetic Affairs by Michael Eskin
Poetic Affairs
Celan, Grünbein, Brodsky
Michael Eskin


252 pages.

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804758314
Ebook ISBN: 9780804786812

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Poetic Affairs deals with the complex and fascinating interface between literature and life through the prism of the lives and works of three outstanding poets: the German-Jewish poet and Holocaust survivor, Paul Celan (1920–1970); the Leningrad native, U.S. poet laureate, and Nobel Prize winner, Joseph Brodsky (1940–1996); and Germany's premier contemporary poet, Durs Grünbein (born 1962). Focusing on their poetic dialogues with such interlocutors as Shakespeare, Seneca, and Byron, respectively—veritable love affairs unfolding in and through poetry—Eskin offers unprecedented readings of Celan's, Brodsky's, and Grünbein's lives and works and discloses the ways in which poetry articulates and remains faithful to the manifold "truths"—historical, political, poetic, erotic—determining human existence.

About the author

Michael Eskin teaches German and comparative literature at Columbia

University. He is the author of Ethics and Dialogue in the Works of

Levinas, Bakhtin, Mandel'shtam, and Celan (2000) as well as a book in German on Nabokov's version of Pushkin's Eugen Onegin (1994).

"At the present juncture of new possibilities for critical strategies, Poetic Affairs: Celan, Grnbein, Brodsky sheds, at times, its paradigmatic weight and achieves, beyond boundaries set by codified procedures of discourse, a fidelity to its exploration borne by succinctness of style and the confident subjectivity of informed insight . . . Eskin's book is a valuable illumination of Celan, Grnbein, and Brodsky."

—James Brasfield, Comparative Literature Studies

"Michael Eskin's study of Paul Celan, Dors Grünbein, and Joseph Brodsky is a bold experiment in biographical criticism. . . . Eskin brings new questions to translation study and persona theory by framing them as ethical practices, and any reader of Celan, Grünbein, or Brodsky will nd much to ponder and appreciate in his meticulously detailed readings of their work."

—Mark Payne, Modern Philology

"In his extraordinarily entertaining and original study Poetic Affairs, Michael Eskin strategically uses the Goll affair, the Livilla affair and the Brodsky affair as the concrete basis for a well-grounded analysis of the poetics of three outstanding voices of modern poetry: Paul Celan, Durs Grubein, and Joseph Brodsky . . . With Poetic Affairs Michael Eskin proves to be—once again—an astonishing researcher in matters of poetic dialogues, a genuine expert of literary interlocutions."

Focus on German Studies

"This strikingly original study scrutinizes works by three modern poets responding to earlier poets in order to advance a compelling argument about the relation between the personal and public in the realm of literature. Eskin's three 'affairs' show that writing poetry is a messy business and that the richest readings take account of its constant transgression of comfortable boundaries."

—Derek Attridge, University of York