Vol.3, Issue 2, 2017, pp.53-73 Full text

Author: Solomon Awuzie

Affiliation: Edo University, Iyamho, Edo State, Nigeria

Psychoanalysis as a literary theory has helped to improve understanding about “human behaviour and human mental functioning.” This is achieved through its perception of the human race as neurotic. However, with its application in poetic interpretation, poetry is perceived as an expression of displaced neurotic conflict: a consoling illusion, symptom, socially acceptable phantasy or substitute gratification. With the psychoanalytic reading of the poetry of Tanure Ojaide, an Anglophone African poet, poetry is understood as an expression of symptoms of the poet’s personal and societal neurotic tendencies. Since our emphasis is on Jungian psychoanalysis, analyzing Ojaide’s poetry through the orbits of the archetypes of Jungian psychoanalysis help to foreground the poetry as a consoling illusion or substitute gratification. Whereas the study reveals that Ojaide’s poetry is dominated by the archetype of the “wounded healer” - a symbol of a wounded personality who also doubles as the needed messiah (the healer), it is depicted that the dominant nature of the archetype of the “wounded healer” is a result of the poet’s experience which is at the centre of his poetic expression.

Keywords: Anglophone African poetry, Tanure Ojaide, Psychoanalytic Theory, archetypes

Article history:
Received: 23 November 2017;
Reviewed: 29 December 2017;
Accepted: 30 December 2017;
Published: 31 December 2017

Citation (APA6):
Awuzie, S. (2017). A Psychoanalytic Reading of Tanure Ojaide’s Poetry. English Studies at NBU, 3(2), 74-87. Retrieved from http://esnbu.org/data/files/2017/2017-2-2-awuzie-pp74-87.pdf

Copyright © 2017 Solomon Awuzie

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0), which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. If you want to use the work commercially, you must first get the author's permission.


Aghoghovwia, P. O. (2013). Versifying the Environment and the Oil Encounter: Tanure Ojaide’s Delta Blues & Home Songs. Alternation Special Edition 6, 175-196. Retrieved from http://alternation.ukzn.ac.za/Files/docs/20.3/09%20Agh.pdf ☍

Akporobaro, F.B.O. (2005). Introduction to African Oral Literature. Lagos: Princeton Publishing Company.

Bodunde, C. (2002). Tanure Ojaide’s Poetry and the Delta Landscape: A Study of Delta Blues & Home Songs. In O. Okome (Ed.), Writing the Homeland: The Poetry and Politics of Tanure Ojaide (pp. 195-208). Bayreuth African Studies Series 60. Bayreuth: Eckhard Breitinger.

Eagleton, T. (2008). Literary Theory: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Freud, S. (1952). A general introduction to psychoanalysis. In R. M. Hutchins (Ed.), Major Works of Sigmund Freud - Great Books of the Western World 54 (pp. 342-349). Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Freud, S. (1986). Creative Writers and Day-dreaming. In C. Kaplan (Ed.), Criticism: The Major Statements (pp. 419-428). New York: St Martin’s Press.

Gross, M. (1978). The Psychological Society: a critical analysis of psychiatry, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis and the psychological revolution. New York: Random House.

Jung, C. (1971). On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry. In J. Campbell (Ed.), The Portable Jung (pp. 301-322). New York: Penguin Books.

Mann, J. (1973). Time-limited Psychotherapy. London: Harvard University Press.

Nwagbara, U. (2009). Aesthetic of Resistance and Sustainability: Tanure Ojaide and the Niger Delta Question. Lasu Journal of Humanities, 7, 30-57.

Nwagbara, U. (2010). Poetics of Resistance: Ecocritical Reading of Ojaide’s Delta Blues & Home Songs and Daydream of Ants and Other poems. African Study Monographs, 3(1), 17-30. doi: 10.14989/113244
View Article

Ojaide, T. (1990). The Fate of Vultures and Other Poems. Lagos: Malthouse.

Ojaide, T. (1995). New Trends in Modern African Poetry. Research in African Literature, 26(1), 4-19. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3820083 ☍

Ojaide, T. (1996). Poetic Imagination in Black Africa: Essays on African Poetry. Durham: Caroline Press.

Ojaide, T. (1999). Invoking the Warrior Spirit: New and Selected Poems. Trenton NJ: Africa World Press.

Rice, P., & Waugh, P. (2001). Modern Literary Theory: A Reader (4th ed.). London: Arnold.

Senanu, K. E., & Vincent, T. (1976). A Selection of African Poetry. London: Longman Group.

Strachey, J. (1927). Introduction. The Ego and the Id. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis.

Tsaaior, J. T. (2011). Exile, Exilic Consciousness and the Poetic Imagination in Tanure Ojaide’s Poetry. Tydskrif vir Letterkunde, 48(1), 98-109. Retrieved from http://www.letterkunde.up.ac.za/argief/48_1/08%20Tsaaior%2002.PDF ☍

Trilling, L. (1973). Freud and Literature. In C. Brooks, R.W.B. Lewis, & R. P. Warren (Eds.), American Literature: The Makers and The Making (Book D: 1914 to the Present) (pp. 2804-2812). New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Open Review

1. Boris Naimushin, New Bulgarian University
Publons Reviewer Profile: https://publons.com/a/657122 ☍

Review Verified on Publons: https://publons.com/author/review/12kTuqWd ☍
Review content: Undisclosed

2. Andrey Andreev, New Bulgarian University
Publons Reviewer Profile: https://publons.com/a/1208840 ☍

Review Verified on Publons: [https://publons.com/author/review/**]
Review content:
The article aims to present an original interpretation of Ojaide’s poetry through the means and concepts of Jungian psychoanalysis.

The purpose is well defined, and the importance of the research lies in its attempt to further clarify certain aspects of the topic chosen from a perspective different from that traditionally adopted.

The theoretical framework, especially regarding Jungian psychoanalysis, could be improved and elaborated upon – unless the manuscript targets chiefly students of psychoanalysis. Also, the definition provided by the author for ‘schadenfreude’ seems to be somewhat different from the traditionally accepted one, and needs to be revisited.

The methodological approaches are fine, provided that the theoretical framework is expanded, as suggested above.

The inferences could be more convincing if, again, the psychoanalysis concepts referred to were further clarified in relation to the poetry excerpts quoted and analyzed.

The manuscript is basically well-organised and written coherently in a style adequate to the purpose.

Handling Editor: Stan Bogdanov
Verified Editor Record on Publons: https://publons.com/publon/1834059 ☍