The language of Schneepart is not merely purged of inherited content or meaning. It has shed all logic. The very title is an error of logical category. Schneepart, Fairley reminds us in his introduction, does not mean “the part that is snow” but rather “the part or role that is given to snow” as if a phenomenon of nature had gained the power of speech or music. Fairley is not at all troubled by these Kategorienfehler, which are now commonplace. Lichtdung is, brilliantly, “light soil”.
I do not think that Celan was a sort of verse Heinrich Böll, who set himself to rid written German of National Socialist patterns of speech and writing. Rather, Celan’s German is like a modern fighter aircraft that must be made absolutely unairworthy before it can perform its allotted task. (An F-15 without power will not glide but plummet.)
Only when language is utterly disabled, it seems, can it articulate, in some abandoned region at the end of space and history, a fugitive echo of reality.