Experimenting with a new tragic model: Elechi Amadi’s Isiburu
Aristotle’s Poetics has been an important resource for literary critics and theorists over the centuries from antiquity to contemporary times. However, despite its lofty status and acclaim the classical source material has also faced serious criticism 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,” an essay on which this article 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 impact of the hero’s fall on the audience are a function of an overarching supernatural activity in the tragic plot. Furthermore, the essay appraises the play Isiburu (1973) as Amadi’s practical example of the proposed model.
Keywords: Elechi Amadi, experimentation, form, poetics, tragic aesthetics