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Evas erbe: Mythenrevision und weibliche schoepfung in der lyrik Rose Auslaenders

Kristina Von Held, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dispensation explores Rose Auslander's poetics through her revision of traditional myths. In many of her short poems, the 20th-century Austrian-Jewish poet is concerned with the creative process. Turning to female predecessors, she revises the role of Eve in the Biblical creation myth and uses images of an archetypal cosmic mother figure and of the Shekhina, a feminine emanation of the divine in the Kabbalah. Out of these revisions of mythology arises a new role for the woman poet, and the maternal imagery leads to an understanding of poetics which I call relational poetics. In close readings, I trace the development from the revision of Eve to the cosmic mother and to a maternal language. Eve is seen as a co-creative female power next to the divine forces of creation. Her transgression makes her a role model for the woman poet, rather than marking her as the archetypal seductive woman. She turns the knowledge acquired from the forbidden tree into the source of poetry which she shares with the world. Thus, she becomes a point of departure for Auslander and provides a bridge to the mother figure. In the mother poems, verbal creation is replaced by water and milk as the medium of creation, and Auslander shifts from the creative competition between God and Eve to the struggle between the cosmic mother and her human daughter. Finally, language takes on the mother role. Maternal voices become part of Auslander's search for a new language as images of the symbiotic relationship between the mother and the child in her womb provide access to these voices. Through the image of giving birth, female reproduction becomes a metaphor for poetic productivity. Auslander's relational poetics thus derives from the close relationship between mother and daughter. The boundaries between self and other are fluid, and in a constant process of exchange, poet and poem create each other anew with every word.

Subject Area

German literature|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Von Held, Kristina, "Evas erbe: Mythenrevision und weibliche schoepfung in der lyrik Rose Auslaenders" (1997). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9809558.