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Classics in Post-Colonial Worlds$
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Lorna Hardwick and Carol Gillespie

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199296101

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199296101.001.0001

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The Curse of the Canon: Ola Rotimi’s The Gods Are Not To Blame

The Curse of the Canon: Ola Rotimi’s The Gods Are Not To Blame

(p.86) 5 The Curse of the Canon: Ola Rotimi’s The Gods Are Not To Blame
Classics in Post-Colonial Worlds

Michael Simpson

Oxford University Press

In 1968, at the onset of the most traumatic phase of the civil war in post-colonial Nigeria, Ola Rotimi staged a production of his new play The Gods Are Not To Blame, which is, amongst other things, an adaptation of Sophocles’s Oedipus the King. Although this play, like virtually all of Rotimi’s dramas, is theatrical on a grand scale, it possesses a considerable literary dimension insofar as it adapts the highly literary source of a Greek tragedy, and insofar as its very success in the theatre transformed it, ironically, into a dramatic text studied in classrooms across a good deal of Africa. The Gods Are Not To Blame has become canonical in European and American as well as African theatre. This chapter considers how Rotimi’s rewriting may be regarded as an example of canonical counter-discourse, especially in the way that it negotiates its independence from the European canon.

Keywords:   Ola Rotimi, theatre, literary canon, Sophocles, Oedipus the King, Africa, counter-discourse, liberation, colonialism

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