Experimenting with a new tragic model: Elechi Amadi’s Isiburu

  • Omeh Obasi Ngwoke University of Port Harcourt
Keywords: Elechi Amadi, experimentation, form, poetics, tragic aesthetics


Aristotle’s Poetics has remained one of the most resourceful reference materials to literary critics and theorists over the centuries from classical antiquity to contemporary times. However, in spite of its lofty status and acclaim the classical source material has also faced serious criticisms especially concerning certain unrealistic and vague postulations made in it about tragedy. The most challenged postulations are those relating to the status of the tragic hero, his flaw, the emotions of pity and fear, and catharsis. Some of these “problematic” areas constitute the crux of Elechi Amadi’s concern in “Gods and Tragic Heroes,” a polemical essay on which this study hinges. Re-examining some existing conversations on the subject and Amadi’s charges against Aristotle, the essay affirms that tragedy is a flexible literary form and that Amadi, amidst his evaluation of Aristotle’s enduring aesthetics, proposes a novel model in which hamartia and the emotional impacts of the hero’s fall on the audience are a function of an overarching supernatural activity in the tragic plot. Consequently, the essay appraises Isiburu as Amadi’s practical example of the proposed model.


Author Biography

Omeh Obasi Ngwoke, University of Port Harcourt

Omeh Obasi Ngwoke is a lecturer in the Department of English Studies at the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria.


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