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The body as art in early-twentieth-century German poetry

Owen, Ruth J. 2004. The body as art in early-twentieth-century German poetry. Monatshefte 96 (4) , pp. 503-520. 10.3368/mon.XCVI.4.503

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In the first three decades of the twentieth century, clusters of poems, by both major and minor poets, evoke bodies as art objects, such as statues, paintings and floral ornaments. In part this originates in a desire to synthesize the ancient and the modern, or to posit a quasi-sexual model of art-reception and art-creation. The symbol-laden bodies constitute a play with aesthetic tradition: strict separation of the made image from the mortal, birthing body allows poets to explore how bodies are conceptualized. They set silent corporeal gesture against lyric language: whilst sonnet form counters the disintegration of broken art-bodies, the voiceless, non-intellectual model of communication also challenges the poem. In the shift from a visual to a linguistic medium, gaps open up, so that images are not just reproduced but critically interpreted in body poems; the critical gaps around bodies' speechlessness show up the power of spectatorship and the satisfied gaze.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Modern Languages
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PT Germanic literature
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
ISSN: 0026-9271
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 22:07

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