Born Paul Antschel in Czernowitz, Rumania, the only child of German Jewish parents, and educated there. Spent a year studying medicine in Tours in 1938. Studied Romance languages and literatures at Czernowitz University. In 1942 his parents were deported to an extermination camp; he himself was placed in a Rumanian labour camp. An editor and translator in Bucharest from 1945 to 1947, the year in which he adopted his nom de plume. In Vienna in early 1948 and later that year in Paris. Began the formal study of German literature in Paris in 1948; published and almost immediately recalled his first collection of poems The Sand From The Urns in that year. A friend of the multilingual Surrealist poet Yvan Goll in 1949-50, but subsequently accused of plagiarism by Goll's widow. A professor of German at the École Normale Supérieure from 1950 onwards. Married the artist Gisèle Lestrange; a son was later born to the couple. Awarded several prestigious German literary prizes over the next fifteen years, a period of marked mental instability and recurrent paranoia. Made a trip to Israel in 1969, where he met a girl whom he fell in love with. Drowned himself in the Seine for reasons that have yet to be fully clarified. An accomplished translator of Shakespeare, Rimbaud, Valéry, Blok, Mandelstam, Ungaretti, Jules Supervielle, Sergei Esenin and André du Bouchet.
It is generally agreed that the greatest of post-war German poets is Paul Celan, although there has been no consensus as to how his work may best be approached. The absence of a consensus can be directly attributed to the fact that, in the