The twenty-sixth episode of Professor Ato Quayson’s vlog Critic.Reading.Writing is up!

In this episode, the professor discusses tragedy and ritual drama in Wole Soyinka’s most well-known play, Death and the King’s Horseman (1975).

Fans of Death and the King’s Horseman are in for a treat as Quayson departs from his usual lecture style to recreate the market atmosphere that is so central to the play. The professor sets the scene with colorful fabrics, a basket of fruit and yams, and a soundtrack of beating drums throughout his analysis. Quayson uses the drums to capture the tension and sonic ambience of the text.

The professor’s analysis hinges on the Yorúbà proverb, “Ayé lọjà; ọ̀run nilé,” meaning “The earth is a marketplace and heaven is home.” Quayson explains the meaning of this proverb in the context of Death and the King’s Horseman. 

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The proverb points to the conjunctural nature of the marketplace as a meeting site for the living, the dead, and the yet unborn. It also suggests the investment of all these three worlds in the successful performance of the ritual suicide that is at the center of Death and the King’s Horseman. Thus, the temporal setting of the marketplace in the closing stages of the day introduces the aspect of liminality and in-betweenness that are crucial for registering the immediacy of both possibility and danger in this night of nights.

Click below to watch!

Critic.Reading.Writing with Ato Quayson is the show for booklovers hungry for meaningful conversations about books.

New episodes of Critic.Reading.Writing with Ato Quayson will be posted every Saturday.

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