Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

African bush

African bush. Wild, shrubby landscape through which the drinker of palm-wine (a naturally alcoholic beverage that is tapped directly from trees) travels during most of the novel. Occasionally, he and his wife discover a road, but they are soon driven back into the uncharted bush. The setting is never specifically stated, but it may be inferred. The author is Nigerian, and he incorporates Yoruba myths and legends into his loosely connected narrative. The setting is either West Africa or a magical landscape that physically resembles West Africa.

Death’s house

Death’s house. Former residence of the personified Death, an eight-hour journey down Death’s road. It is a house and adjoining yam garden where human skeletons are used as fuel woods and human skulls as basins, plates, and tumblers. The palm-wine drinkard ensnares Death in a net and carries him away. Since that day, he has wandered homeless in the world.

Endless forest of the Complete Gentleman

Endless forest of the Complete Gentleman. Forest in which only terrible creatures live. The Complete Gentleman (or Curious Creature) is greatly admired in the market but, when he returns to his forest, he begins to return his body parts to the creatures from whom they were rented. He finally becomes Skull, when that is the only body part he retains. The protagonist follows Skull to his family’s house. When Father of Gods who can do anything in this world (as the protagonist now calls himself) saves the daughter of the nearby village’s headman from Skull, she becomes his wife.

Wraith Island

Wraith Island. High piece of land located in a bush...

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The Palm-Wine Drinkard Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Asagba, O. A. “The Folklore Structure in Amos Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard.” Lore and Language 4, no. 1 (January, 1985): 31-39. Builds on earlier studies to analyze the novel’s use of folklore motifs and to examine claims that it is a “quest” novel.

Coates, John. “The Inward Journey of the Palm-Wine Drinkard.” In African Literature Today, compiled by Eldred D. Jones and edited by Eldred Durosimi Jones. New York: African Publishing, 1973. Examines the novel as a psychological development with allegorical overtones.

Collins, Harold R. Amos Tutuola. Boston: Twayne, 1969. In-depth treatment of Tutuola’s writings, using his life and environment as background. Workmanlike survey of aspects and critiques of his work.

Lindfors, Bernth. “Amos Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard and Oral Tradition.” Critique 11, no. 1 (1969): 42-50. By a pioneer student of Tutuola’s work, solid in its analysis of folklore structure in the novel.

Lindfors, Bernth. Critical Perspectives on Amos Tutuola. Washington, D.C.: Three Continents Press, 1975. Useful collection of critical comment on all of Tutuola’s works, divided into early reactions, reappraisals, and later criticism.