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Book description

This book examines tragedy and tragic philosophy from the Greeks through Shakespeare to the present day. It explores key themes in the links between suffering and ethics through postcolonial literature. Ato Quayson reconceives how we think of World literature under the singular and fertile rubric of tragedy. He draws from many key works – Oedipus Rex, Philoctetes, Medea, Hamlet, Macbeth, and King Lear – to establish the main contours of tragedy. Quayson uses Shakespeare's Othello, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Tayeb Salih, Arundhati Roy, Toni Morrison, Samuel Beckett and J.M. Coetzee to qualify and expand the purview and terms by which Western tragedy has long been understood. Drawing on key texts such as The Poetics and The Nicomachean Ethics, and augmenting them with Frantz Fanon and the Akan concept of musuo (taboo), Quayson formulates a supple, insightful new theory of ethical choice and the impediments against it. This is a major book from a leading critic in literary studies.


‘… [This book] is a powerful insight, suggestive enough, one would have thought, to fuel a book-length inquiry into the distinctiveness of postcolonial tragedy.’

Rajeswari Sunder Rajan Source: Modern Philology

‘The book’s connections to the fields of literature, philosophy, and history are apparent, as is its layered, meticulously crafted thesis. Relevant and applicable to a variety of critical reassessments in various fields within the humanities. Recommended.’

J. Neal Source: Choice

'The contribution of Ato Quayson's book is undoubtedly found in the dialogue and the pooling of plural knowledge, reporting on the suffering and ethnic discriminations of which colonized populations have been victims.'

Jean Zaganiaris Source: Anabases (translated from French)

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