Lyrical prose and the ritualistic: Lyricality as an interpretative lens for analysing C. C. Krijgelmans’s short story “Homunculi”

TitleLyrical prose and the ritualistic: Lyricality as an interpretative lens for analysing C. C. Krijgelmans’s short story “Homunculi”
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsJanssens, N
JournalFrontiers of Narrative Studies
Paginations105 - s125
Date Published2018///
ISBN Number2509-4882
Keywordslyricality, Narratology, the ritualistic

Homunculi (1967) is the first short story collection by the Flemish-Belgian experimental writer Claude C. Krijgelmans. The stories challenge narrative conventions. The title story of the collection mainly experiments with formal conventions: it foregrounds rhythmic repetition and musicality, and deviates from grammatical rules. These features are conventionally associated with lyrical poetry, rather than with narrative texts. Moreover, the text thematises rituals, which hints at the presence of a ritualistic quality that is often linked with lyrical texts. This article focuses on the lyrical elements in “Homunculi” and associates them with the ritualistic. I define lyricality as a literary mode that consists of lyrical tendencies, which can be realised in different ways. The ritualistic quality associated with this mode can be defined as a recurrent combination of lyrical tendencies. The ritualistic involves both semantic and formal aspects. Semantically, it is characterised as an impersonal quality of language. Formally, the ritualistic is memorable, non-representational language. The focus on lyricality enables a working definition of the ritualistic. Approaching “Homunculi” with lyricality as an interpretative lens has theoretical as well as analytical advantages. First, it situates the prose text in a wider tradition of lyrical, ritualistic texts. Next, the focus on lyricality reveals new interpretative possibilities for “Homunculi”. Against that background, this paper demonstrates the need for a narratology that considers the interaction between narrativity and other modes, like lyricality.


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