Comedy and Social Purpose: Two Plays of Menghistu Lemma

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Addis Ababa University


This stu~y is a thenatic an~ stylistic analysis of two plays by +he Ft.hioFian rlC'y",'ri<:;ht, I~enghistu Lerama : nar-eLy 1 ~'iarria']e ty i'Jx:.uct.ion a_'1d~~a.rria.c;pof Unesua13. to fulfil three important fun~~ions. r be f or e this study no s ucst an+La L -lLscus s Lon of f\enghist.u I,eTI'lt',<"'.1 s t,rork ex i s t.e-s. Cer t.a.i.n Hrl +e r s ha(l t.ouchert 01:. the of his rlays in tb.e course of .F·rovi.~ing a survey of Bthiopian Li v and. an under c-radue t.e thesi~ exists which contains 2. brief descript:!.or. in Arl..~aric of the wr Lt.Lno style of 8.11 his works I LncLudLno his foe try . Th:i.s study, hovevez 1 differs from +he ae C\tte:''1~t-sin ob j ec t Lve , (~eFth a.n? scope. EecondlY1 there was previously no subst.antial·survey of the ,':.evelopr:lent of Modern Pthiouian rrarna. It is obvious +ha+ such a survey is necessary I not. only in ozde r to p l ace Pen(?histu Lemmaand his -:rarnatic ','od"s in context! but; also to facil! +at.e the study of Ethio9ian r~rarna in qeneral. Ch aoter One ir:. this stud.y goes some way +owards ? sucb a sur vcy , Thirdly, Ethiopian lite~ature has jn ge~€.!.""alheAn 2ffo~~ed acant; at.t.ent.Lon by critics of l-fJ':"ic-3f'.Li.t.e r at.ur'e . 2orne.wri t.e r s have '!ttribute(1 this fact to d.ifficulties of language and the lack of t.ranslations. .2'~nencouraging new <levelopment is that soma novelists and. playwrights have s+ ar t.ed to -rr i t;e or trans;" late +be Lr wozks into English, one of therr: is ~enghi5tu Le?"lIn~? Eoweve.!."", i.t is the opinion of this rpsearcher that the translation of works of Ethiopian literature into ?ngli~h is not enough un s j t: is acc or-r.anLed by a oar a l.LeL :'ieveJ.0prr:e!".t of crit.icism, without which a COm?lAte grasp of t.he works is not possible. It is hopei that this 3tu~y will hel~ a non- Ethiopian reader tc see these hm plays in the cont.ext of the soc i eL, e cor-omLc and :,?olitica.l history of feudal I-'tb.iopia. The stu~y of the li~erary worth an~ social relevance of these two plays sugg~sts that th~y are vivif an~ authentic documeri+s of their period, and that future qenerations t,!ill r ead them \-Ji t,b. Lrrce r e s t.. a giftec:. satirist and as ;~vrr i.t.e r of S01.lD .•.:: d r anat.Lc t-ecrx.ic:ue an~ a su~tle an~ uni0u~ branf of rhetoric. ,,



Menghistu Lemma