ABSTRACT

In “Ellen West” (1977) Frank Bidart engages with an intertextual poetics by including “found” prose from the English translation of Lionel Binswanger's case history to lend historical veracity to lyric passages spoken by West, a European Jew who died in 1921. In his representation of Binswanger's text, however, Bidart omits key points that connect West's disgust with her “Jewish” body type to her internalization of an anti-Semitic discourse. Instead of focusing on the anti-Semitic discourse that animates West's body hatred, Bidart reads West's devaluation of the body and her wish for its erasure as in line with German idealism and an aesthetic sublime.

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