Notes Toward and Informed Reading of Wole Soyinka's "Idanre"
To the best of my knowledge, this paper is the first, written, critical review of Wole Soyinka's long poem, "Idanre." The only other criticism directly pertaining to the poem is D.A.N. Jones cursory comment on it in the New York Review of Books, July 10, 1969. Because this is a first study, my primary aim has been to give a general overview of the poem. I have tried to outline a few of the major themes and possible interpretations of "Idanre." "Idanre" is a tough poem: complex, meaningful, inconsistent, riddled with obscure references to Nigerian history and Yoruba tribal mythology. Our attempts to unravel the poem are further complicated by the fact that it belongs to a relatively unexplored genre. African literature is still a new art form. Barely fifteen years have elapsed since the publication of the first Nigerian novel, Tutuola's The Palm-Wine Drinkard. Many of the critical problems facing the student of African Literature have yet to be adequately formulated. In this paper, I will first try to suggest the nature of some critical problems facing both writer and student of West African literature today. Only from an informed view of the milieu in, which Soyinka is writing can we move on to a sensitive reading of his major poem, "Idanre".