Cite: Back, A Reading of Lea Goldberg’s The Remains of Life

Back, Rachel Tzvia. “Toward the ‘Whole Fragment’: A Reading of Lea Goldberg’s The Remains of Life.” Nashim 25 (2013): 114-28.



This paper borrows the term “whole fragment” from American poet and scholar Ann Lauterbach and utilizes it in a consideration of Lea Goldberg’s posthumously published poetry collection The Remains of Life. In contrast to the traditional fragment, which laments in its very presence a lost whole, the whole fragment acknowledges and foregrounds its incompleteness as essential and intrinsic to its own poetic essence and statement. Through close analysis of select poems, this paper argues that the whole fragment was a purposeful development away from closed form in Goldberg’s poetics, a development already in evidence in With this Night but articulated more radically and fully in the poems of The Remains of Life. I argue that these final poems are among Goldberg’s most accomplished in their very threshold nature, in their precarious negotiation and unflinching recognition of language’s limits, represented in form as much as in content.