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Ritual Passages and Narrative Structures


Prof. Langdon Elsbree

This book explores the homology between ritual passages and narrative structures. The ways that rites of passage, particularly their liminal stage, correspond with narrative structures and the advantages of these correspondences for literary criticism and analysis are the central arguments of this study. Drawing on a wide range of examples, mainly from 19th and 20th Century English and American literature, it concentrates on the middle stage of liminality, where the identity themes, the implications of choice, and the values in conflict emerge most clearly. Drawing on recent work in anthropology and the other social sciences, it suggests new perspectives for understanding the relationships between rite and story and between «art» and «life».
Contents: Part 1: Homologies, ritual, narrative, power, Van Gennep - Part 2: 19th and 20th Century American literature - Part 3: Victorian poets and novelists - Part 4: Tillie Olsen and V.S. Naipaul, power and liminality - Part 5: Closure and its rituals.