"Weil ich der raschen Lippe Herr nicht bin": Oral Transgression as Enlightenment Disavowal in Kleist's Penthesilea
- Women in German Yearbook: Feminist Studies in German Literature & Culture
- University of Nebraska Press
- Volume 22, 2006
- pp. 145-166
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- Additional Information
Kleist's Penthesilea so shocked contemporary readers that the writer insisted: "She really did eat him, Achilles, out of love." Indeed, the oral aspect of Penthesilea's destruction of Achilles is sometimes overlooked, an omission this article seeks to address. I argue that by radically conflating oral appetites, the figure of Penthesilea disawows Englightenment culture in three respects: the ideal of feminine modesty; aesthetic values that posited woman as an object of appreciation rather than an agent of aesthetic taste; and the Enlightenment's social contract, which subordinated bodily appetites to the interests of the community.