Link from the title:
The dictionary defines fugue as a musical form consisting essentially of a main theme repeated with minor variations beneath the continuing first statement. The fugue is associated most with the German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750), who was first a church organist then a court composer and finally composer-in-residence for the city of Leipzig. He is an integral figure in both German culture and the western tradition of classical music. The organizers and governors of the camps and many of the prisoners shared this latter heritage.
What do you think Celan achieves by linking fugue to death, and by using this compound noun as the title for this poem? (Think about the way Wilfred Owen used a similar reference to western culture, the reference to the poet Horace in Dulce et Decorum Est.) How is the musical theme established in the title continued in the poem?
You might also like to think about a second definition, from psychiatry, for the word fugue: a dreamlike state of altered consciousness, lasting from a few hours to several days, during which a person loses his/her memory of a previous life and often wanders away from home. Fugue itself derives from the Italian word fuga, which means a running away, flight.
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