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by Paul Celan

Deathfugue Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Did you think it would have been possible to write a good poem about the Holocaust before reading "Deathfugue"? Do you think it's possible now, or did the poem fall short?
  2. Does it make a difference in how you receive the poem to know that Paul Celan was actually a prisoner in a concentration camp? How would your perceptions be different if he had never lived in a camp?
  3. Does Celan blame poetry and literature in some way for contributing to, or failing to stop, the Holocaust? How does he want his readers to feel about the poem they are reading?
  4. How are Marguerite and Shulamith supposed to be related to each other? Are they rivals?
  5. How does "Deathfugue" compare to other historical, cinematic, or literary accounts of the Holocaust that you have read or seen?

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