Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka (wō´lā shôyĬng´kə), 1934–, Nigerian playwright, poet, novelist, essayist, and political activist, born Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka. Educated at the universities of Ibadan and Leeds, England, and at London's Royal Court Theatre, he writes in English, fusing Western and Yoruba traditions. In Nigeria, he founded the Masks amateur theater company and the professional Orisun Repertory, both of which presented plays in English that incorporated the traditions of Nigerian music and dance. He has taught at the Univ. of Ife, Nigeria, and at Cornell. Imprisoned (1967–69) for political activism during Nigeria's civil war (see Biafra, Republic of), he wrote his prison notes, The Man Died (1973). In 1986 Soyinka became the first African to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Again under threat of arrest from the Nigerian government in 1994, he fled abroad. After the death of Nigeria's military dictator (1998), Soyinka returned home, where he resumed his political activism and has been an outspoken critic of Nigeria's government. In 2010, Soyinka launched a reformist political party, the Democratic Front for a People's Federation, and was elected its chairman.

Soyinka's works are concerned with the tensions between spiritual and material worlds, with beliefs as the underpinnings of social relations, and with individuals' dependence on one another. His widely performed plays often highlight the problems of daily life in Africa; best known are Death and the King's Horseman (1975) and A Play of Giants (1984), a satiric attack on contemporary Africa. His novels include The Interpreters (1965), which considers the plight of young Nigerians in an increasingly corrupt society, and Isara (1988). His essay collections—such as Art, Dialogue, and Outrage (1988, 1994) and The Burden of Memory, The Muse of Forgiveness (1998)—discuss a variety of African cultural and political issues. He has also written memoirs memoirs: Ake (1983), which outlines his early life and offers insights into Nigerian culture during the late colonial period, and You Must Set Forth at Dawn (2006), which covers his adult years and focuses on his political activism in opposition to Nigeria's corrupt regimes.

See studies by E. Jones (1973), J. Gibbs (1986), and K. Katrak (1986).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Wole Soyinka: Selected full-text books and articles

Wole Soyinka: Politics, Poetics, and Postcolonialism By Biodun Jeyifo Cambridge University Press, 2003
The Lion and the Jewel By Wole Soyinka Oxford University Press, 1963
A Dance of the Forests By Wole Soyinka Oxford University Press, 1963
African Culture: The Rhythms of Unity By Molefi Kete Asante; Kariamu Welsh Asante Greenwood Press, 1985
Librarian’s tip: Includes "The African World and the Ethnocultural Debate" by Wole Soyinka
Writing across Worlds: Contemporary Writers Talk By Susheila Nasta Routledge, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Wole Soyinka with Mary David"
Scars of Conquest/Masks of Resistance: The Invention of Cultural Identities in African, African-American, and Caribbean Drama By Tejumola Olaniyan Oxford University Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Wole Soyinka: "Race Retrieval" and Cultural Self-Apprehension"
How Strange the Change: Language, Temporality, and Narrative Form in Peripheral Modernisms By Marc Caplan Stanford University Press, 2011
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Mendele’s Mare and Soyinka’s Interpreters"
Putting Freedom to the Test: Wole Soyinka's You Must Set Forth at Dawn* By Chew, Shirley Cross / Cultures, No. 148, January 1, 2012
2: Ritual and Revolution: - Wole Soyinka's Bacchae, a Yoruba Tragedy By Van Weyenberg, Astrid Cross / Cultures, No. 165, January 1, 2013
Wole Soyinka: Dance Master of Appetite By Gover, Daniel Journal of the African Literature Association, Vol. 7, No. 1, Summer 2012
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
An Abiku-Ogbanje Atlas: A Pre-Text for Rereading Soyinka's Ake and Morrison's Beloved By African American Review, Vol. 36, No. 4, Winter 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
A Critical Discourse Review of Resistance Consciousness in the Language and Ideology of Social Change Project in Wole Soyinka's Political Discourse By Oyeleye, A. Lekan; Hunjo, Henry J International Journal of English Linguistics, Vol. 3, No. 2, April 2013
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Traces of Afrocentricity in the Lion and the Jewel and the Road by Wole Soyinka By Zargar, Sara The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online), Vol. 5, No. 5, June 2012
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Great World Writers: Twentieth Century By Patrick M. O'Neil Marshall Cavendish, vol.10, 2004
Librarian’s tip: "Wole Soyinka" begins on p. 1421
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