Een labyrint voor onze tijd. Het metaverhaal van de metropool in Paul van Ostaijens grotesken
A labyrinth for our time: The meta-story of the metropolis in Paul van Ostaijen’s grotesques
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Apart from poetry, Paul van Ostaijen also wrote grotesque prose. The grotesque shows an inverted world that is equally logical as the real world but governed by different norms and an upside-down morality. It is alienating and familiar at the same time. The grotesque texts reflect on the grand narratives of modernism. In this article, I focus on the image of the metropolis in three stories: De kudde van Claire, De gehouden hotelsleutel and De verloren huissleutel. Firstly, I define the concept of the grotesque. Then, I discuss van Ostaijen’s time in Berlin, before I turn to the metropolis and its inhabitants. They seem to desperately hold on to a logical and dual organisation of their city, lives and world, yet van Ostaijen undermines this dualistic world vision and positions his prose in the domain of ambiguity, in a labyrinth that may be the only answer to the question of the crisis imposed by reality.
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