Excavation, Expansion and Enclosure: Paul Celan’s ‘Engführung’ (1959) and J. H. Prynne’s ‘The Glacial Question, Unsolved’ (1969)

  • Nicola Thomas
Part of the Geocriticism and Spatial Literary Studies book series (GSLS)


Representations of metatextual space in J. H. Prynne’s ‘The Glacial Question, Unsolved’ are read alongside those in Paul Celan’s ‘Engführung’ [‘The Straightening’] as expressions of ‘Sprachskepsis’ or language skepticism. The creation of anti-metaphorical subterranean geological and archaeological spaces is shown to be a means by which language might be redeemed and the possibility of meaning restored in an altered form. What emerges is an understanding of Prynne and Celan’s non-metaphorical, meta-textual spaces as ‘maps’ to their own meaning, which are an attempt to engage with, and a gesture towards resolving in quite distinct ways, the aporia of language crisis.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicola Thomas
    • 1
  1. 1.St Hilda’s CollegeUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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