The IUP Journal of English Studies
'Locating the Unlocatable': The Voyage on the 'Mytho-Political' Borderland in Ben Okri's Songs of Enchantment

Article Details
Pub. Date : June, 2023
Product Name : The IUP Journal of English Studies
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJES040623
Author Name : Monali Sahu Pathange and Amith Kumar P V
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : Arts & Humanities
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 14



The paper examines and analyzes Ben Okri's novel Songs of Enchantment (1993), which reflects his diverse and protean opinion of the social and political upheavals in post-independent Nigeria through the congruous amalgamation of the mythical, magical, and real. Okri situates his characters, especially protagonist Azaro, the abiku child, on the threshold of two worlds-the tangible, humane, and concrete/real world and the intangible, supernatural, abstract, and mythical world of the spirits. The act of deliberate blurring of boundaries between these two worlds exemplifies the 'inbetweenness' of Azaro's existence. The paper discusses the theoretical evolution of the concept of 'liminality' and renowned Indian-British scholar and critical theorist Homi K Bhabha's understanding of the implications of the term 'liminality.' He contends three important aspects of 'liminality'-in-between spaces, cultural difference, and hybridity. These aspects have been taken into consideration to locate the character of Azaro and his journey in a 'liminal' space-a passage of constant fluidity where the protagonist Azaro dwells in a 'borderland' or 'in-between space'/threshold. Reallife experiences merge with the mythic realm to create a world beyond chaos and mysterious occurrences. Dreams and reality coalesce to create a 'liminal zone', which transforms into a 'transcultural space' for the characters with multiple identities, fractured identities/selffragmented identities. The 'hybrid' identity of the protagonist Azaro in the Famished Road Trilogy situates him in a 'third space' where 'cultural difference' unchains him from the traditional stereotype descriptions and presents him as a challenge to the established notions and conceptualizations.

The novel Songs of Enchantment, which Ben Okri planned as a sequel for The Famished Road, conjures up episodes from real life as well as from the mythic realm to create a