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Lecture by James Russell: 'L'oeuvre au noir: Bedros Tourian and Paul Celan'

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Date:

Monday, April 7, 2008 - 6:00pm

Lecture by James Russell: 'L'oeuvre au noir: Bedros Tourian and Paul Celan'

Bedros Tourian invented the language and imagery of modern Armenian lyric almost singlehanded. He died of consumption in Constantinople at the tender age of twenty-one when Rimbaud was beginning his life Paris. Juxtaposing them and triangulating south I have imagined Bedros as the beautiful boy Poet of the City whom the younger Cavafy might have hoped to meet but did not.

Lamenting a schoolmate's death and foreseeing his own— and with the Armenian Genocide not far off— Tourian wrote a poem elaborating the image of black milk, thereby uncannily foreshadowing one of the two central features of the post-Holocaust "Todesfuge" of Paul Celan. A discussion of the two involves the nexus of personal tragedy, modern constructions of nationalism and of historical fate, and of visionary art (and there will be some consideration of Anselm Kiefer here).

 

James Russell is Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies and a member of the Davis Center for Russian Studies at Harvard. His most recent studies include "The Shrine Beneath the Waves", "Solov'i, solov'i", "The Cross and the Lotus", and "Argawan: The Indo-European Memory of the Caucasus".