JOURNAL OF BEIJING UNIVERSITY OF AERONAUTICS AND A ›› 2017, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (3): 98-102.DOI: 10.13766/j.bhsk.1008-2204.2016.0123

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On Erotic Poetics of John Berryman

PENG Yu, QUE Jun   

  1. School of Foreign Languages, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Beijing 100083, China
  • Received:2016-04-11 Online:2017-05-25 Published:2017-05-27


The American confessional poet John Berryman audaciously constructs a male-dominated world of eroticism and sensuality in his poetry. His erotic poetics not only demonstrates the loss of life values such as self-split and sexual sadism, but also is embedded with a profound sense of guilt, which derives from the inner conflict between his intense desire for erotic experience and the deep-rooted religious creeds and moral codes. Berryman develops severe depression in the continuing conflict between the body and the soul. Unable to obtain salvation by confessing to God, he eventually commits suicide. Berryman's self-eroticism goes through the vicissitude from repression to explosion, and finally to cessation. His erotic poetics reveals the deep, dark, and convoluted desires in the human psyche while sounding the alarm for the erotically charged modern society.

Key words: John Berryman, erotic poetics, sense of guilt, depression, suicide

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