Poetics of Disintegration in Laure’s “Poems before the summer of 1936”

Barbara Ann Brown


This article examines issues of grammatical gender and symbol in the poetry of Colette Laure Lucienne Peignot. I have focused on the poetics of disintegration in the section entitled "Poems before the summer of 1936," in which we encounter a number of poems written in free verse that reflect different aspects of Laure's notion of the poetic sacred. The poetic sacred, for Laure, relates to the moment when the eternal part of a human being becomes actualized via the engagement of fulfilling a goal while simultaneously being aware of the "weight of death." For Laure, if a person cannot or can no longer experience this emotion, then the person's life is deprived of meaning, deprived of the sacred. Many of the poems in "Poems before the summer of 1936" recount journeys that the speaker, or statement subject "I," embarks upon. Great attention is paid to the grammatical gender of the statement subjects in these poems, although, at times, grammatical gender can be difficult to determine. Sometimes grammatical gender can be discerned in the past tense forms of verbs in the French language, and other times it can be determined by Laure's use of masculine or feminine rhymes in her work. But often, Laure conceals the gender of her statement subjects, choosing instead to focus on represent a rejection of traditional gender roles in her poetry. Ultimately, this article seeks to posit Laure among France's best known writers and thinkers in the early part of the twentieth century, to help close the huge gap in the canon left by the absence of women writers and thinkers between the years 1880-1930.


communism; feminism; grammatical gender; French poetry and poetics

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21533/epiphany.v4i1.36


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