Under the Dome
Under the Dome
Walks with Paul Celan
Translated by Rosmarie Waldrop
Introduction by Robert Kaufman, Philip Gerard





Review in the New Yorker
Nov 17, 2020

"The French writer Jean Daive, who was close to Celan in his last years—and whose memoir about him, Under the Dome, has just appeared in English, translated by Rosmarie Waldrop—remembers him reading 'the newspapers, all of them, technical and scientific works, posters, catalogues, dictionaries and philosophy.' Other people's conversations, words overheard in shops or in the street, all found their way into his poetry. He would sometimes compose poems while walking and dictate them to his wife from a public phone booth. 'A poet is a pirate,' he told Daive. . . . Daive's memoir sensitively conjures a portrait of a man tormented by both his mind and his medical treatment but who nonetheless remained a generous friend and a poet for whom writing was a matter of life and death. 'He loves words,' Daive writes, recalling the two of them working together on translations in Celan’s apartment. 'He erases them as if they should bleed. . . . The best way to approach Celan’s poetry may be, in Daive’s words, as a 'vibration of sense used as energy'—a phenomenon that surpasses mere comprehension."—Ruth Franklin


Review in Boston Review
Nov 23, 2020

"[Under the Dome's] form aptly mirrors Celan's own: it is composed in short fragments, its style is hallucinatory and obsessive. . . . And though it is steeped in melancholy, the memoir also shows Celan absorbed in the quiet happiness of his work. Daive watches from a distance and leaves him undisturbed."—Peter E. Gordon


Review in Times Literary Supplement
Nov 20, 2020

"[Under the Dome] is as valuable for its insights into Celan the man as for the light it sheds on his later ars poetica."—Mark Glanville


Review in On the Seawall
Dec 16, 2020

"Daive offers a curbside view of Celan's behaviors. Written two decades after Celan's suicide, Daive's lyrical fragments drift among the cafés and streets of Paris, and are oriented through his engrossed attention to Celan’s complex mind . . . The two stroll down Boulevard Saint-Michel, cross Boulevard Saint-Germain, and then move onto Place de la Contrescarpe, a square in the city’s Fifth Arrondissement where Celan lived and where chestnut and paulownia trees lined the street. 'These trees and their leaves generate—and in turn offer the poet-translators a generative—dome' which inspires the book’s title. Yet such walks could be painful for Celan . . . But there are also moments of levity and wonder."—Wayne Catan


Review in Caesura
Dec 9, 2020

"As we follow along with Daive and Celan wandering about Paris like two walking enigmas struck by mutual recognition of the value each of them has to offer the other, the streets, parks, and squares the two meet in and stroll through come to life, with the city playing a central role throughout. Not only providing the physical setting for the scenes of the poets' meetings, but also serving metaphorically for the shelter, literal 'dome', under which their exchanges occurred; permanently stamping Celan's haunting presence upon Daive's imagination. . . . Daive and Celan clearly shared a peculiar closeness, one that refuses the professional, yet also resists being entirely personal. Yet it was decidedly poetic—endlessly and compellingly exploring as it does, in poet Robert Duncan’s words, 'the sounds and silences of language' where 'creativity in language works.'"—Parick James Dunagan


Review in Leonardo Reviews
Dec 2, 2020

"The book is much more than a recounting or memoire. Rather, it is an evocation of a significant period in both poets' lives, rich in subtle detail and sentiment. . . . Daive builds his book from this shared history. Doing so, he tracks in Celan a kind of revelatory attentiveness that Celan's poems embody, the former feeding the latter and vice versa. . . . For readers of Paul Celan in English, Under the Dome: Walks with Paul Celan is a touchstone. For readers unfamiliar with Celan, I suggest they read this book after encountering Celan’s poetry, especially in the English translations by Pierre Joris. And then, of course, the pleasure is yours."—Allan Graubard


Review in Kirkus Reviews
Jul 1, 2020

"[E]vocative portrait of the relationship between two significant figures in [France] . . . In this narrative on poetry and philosophy, on Kafka and God, on the challenge and futility of using words to express what words cannot express: 'The matter of words. Words as matter. Distance within logic.' . . . it's a book that will appeal most to fans of either poet’s work and one that could find a home in courses on modern French literature."