Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 369
The Lion and the Jewel (1963) is one of Soyinka’s earliest plays, and one of the first to be performed in Africa. More humorous than Death and the King’s Horseman, it depicts a clash of cultures through the story of a confrontation between a schoolteacher and the village chief. As the two men try to win the hand of a beautiful woman, they argue the values of tradition and modernity.
Ake: The Years of Childhood (1981) is Soyinka’s second volume of memoir. Chosen by the New York Times as one of the twelve best books of 1982, it describes the first ten years of his life. Although Soyinka was something of a prodigy, beginning school at age three and becoming a teacher at ten, his gentle self-mocking humor makes the book delightful rather than self-serving.
The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts (1994) by Baba Ifa Karade presents clear and simple explanations of Yoruba beliefs and ceremonies. The presentation is not meant to win converts, but rather to strip away some of the mystery and make the traditions accessible to those who would wish to practice them or just to understand them. Karade also demonstrates similarities and differences between Yoruba and other spiritual beliefs.
The Palm-Wine Drinkard (1953) by Amos Tutuola is a novel of a devoted West African drinker who undergoes a series of imaginative adventures. Tutuola built this humorous and dreamlike story out of traditional Yoruba folktales.
Things Fall Apart (1958) is the first and most widely read novel by Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, Through the story of Okonkwo, a member of the Ibo tribe, it depicts the changes in village life brought about when colonialism and Christianity intrud. Okonkwo is a complex character, not a simple victim of colonialism; his downfall comes both from forces within and from without.
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, a play written in approximately 1601 by William Shakespeare, is one of the most famous tragedies ever written. Prince Hamlet is the son of the king, who has just been murdered by Hamlet’s uncle. The dead king urges Hamlet to revenge his death. Hamlet proves incapable of fulfilling his duty to the dead king, bringing chaos and death to himself and many of those close to him.
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