The Paradoxes of Being and Time: The Existential-Tragic Poetics of Dramatic Literature

Document Type: Original Article


PhD Candidate of English, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria


Theorizing about literature over the centuries has been a significant intellectual exercise of high degree that has, among other things, majorly kept the study of literature afloat. The thrust of theory, on this note, is to give perspectives to literature; that is, a conceptual framework for its critical investigation. Against this background, this study has also attempted to conceptualize a relatively novel critical framework in dramatic studies which has been referred to as ‘existential-tragedy’. The concept is woven around the philosophical nexus of Absurdism and Tragedy with the theoretical assumption drawn from the Nietzschean principle of ‘Primal Unity’ in Birth of Tragedy. It encapsulates man as a being in existence who is caught up in an enclosed journey between creation and annihilation, and who constantly demonstrates an unconscious awareness to this underlying reality through his series of engagements in life. This unconscious phenomenon is contextualized in this study as ‘death anxiety’ which silently characterizes man’s struggles with life, as actors on the stage. Ultimately, the study is being established as a move towards theorizing a new conceptual framework and/or critical context, not only in the analysis of tragic and absurd plays, but also in literary criticism at large.