While there have been many representations of existential alienation in African literature, there has as yet been no coherent attempt to explore the variety of ways in which it might be seen in operation. Taking as a starting point the damning remarks that Chinua Achebe makes on Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, this essay extrapolates a working definition of existential alienation with reference to Foucault and Bakhtin, and to Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks and proceeds to use these as a focus for examining the theme in African literature. The essay ends on a close examination of the condition with respect to Ezeulu in Achebe’s Arrow of God. The conclusion calls for an embrace of alienation partly along the lines first suggested by Abiola Irele, but augmented with a return to Fanon.


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pp. 30-45
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