Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Célan, Paul mss. ca. 1950-1965, consist of photos, postcards and correspondence between Paul Célan, 1920-1970, and his friend Isac Chiva, as well as some of Célan's poetry.

Célan, one of the major German-language poets of the post-World War II era, was born Paul Antschel into a Jewish family in Romania (now Ukraine). Célan's parents died in Nazi labor camps, and Célan himself was imprisoned for eighteen months. After the war, Célan lived in Bucharest and Vienna before settling in Paris. During this time, he began writing under the pseudonym Célan, an anagram of his Romanian surname Ancel. Célan gained widespread recognition in 1952 when his second book, Mohn und Gedaechtnis (Poppy and Memory), was published. He continued to write poetry and translate literature throughout his lifetime. Célan committed suicide in 1970.

Célan met Isac Chiva, 1925-2012, in Budapest in 1947. Chiva, who was also a Romanian of Jewish origin, helped Célan move to Paris in 1948, and introduced him to his future wife Gisèle de Lestrange. Chiva worked at the Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions and became a respected anthropologist and ethnologist.

The correspondence is arranged chronologically. The collection also contains photos and poetry, including a poem written in memory of the French poet and surrealist Paul Éluard as well as a translation of Guillaume Apollinaire's work.

An inventory is available.

Acquired: 2013

Collection size: 31 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.