May 2 2016
Last class of the semester, on Wole Soyinka's Death and the King's Horseman. Compared and contrasted with Achebe's Things Fall Apart, which unlike the play is about the clash of cultures, and what happens when European culture arrives and destroys the cultures it is ignorant of; and with Conrad's Heart of Darkness, which makes African culture a backdrop to European reckoning with its own tragic ontology. Death and the King's Horseman as treating British colonial culture as a catalyst and otherwise a (ridiculous) backdrop to its own concerns, concerns as archaic, as fundamental, and essential as anything to be found in Aeschylus or Shakespeare. By way of long discussions of how we think of the audience as narratee, not as reader; and how we think of plays as having the same kind of hidden narrators as we think of novels as having hidden narratees. Who is the audience, or who are its members, its narratees, who do we think they are, in Death and the King's Horseman?