One Text, Many Literary Traditions: The Multidimensionality of Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman

In: Afrika Focus
Enajite Eseoghene Ojaruega Department of English and Literary Studies, Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria,

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Death and the King’s Horseman, published in 1975, is undoubtedly Wole Soyinka’s most acclaimed play. When awarding the playwright the Nobel Prize in Literature in October 1986, the Committee specifically cited it as a “drama of existence”. Many literary critics have written about the play from multifarious perspectives. However, the dramatic text is still open to multidimensional interpretations that can further illuminate the rich texture of this canonical work. My study contextualises this dramatic masterpiece as yielding to a form of critical inquiry that makes it cohere with definitions of various literary traditions. It can be interrogated as Yoruba/Nigerian national literature, African literature, postcolonial literature, and world literature. It is, therefore, in this effort to use many approaches to see the play as a holistic text that I have chosen to interrogate it as “one text, many literary traditions”.

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