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O lume se destramă

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O lume se destrama s-a vindut in mai bine de 12 milioane de exemplare si a fost tradusa in peste 50 de limbi. Printre cei cu care imparte gloria tribului, Okonkwo este privit cu admiratie si incredere. El e un luptator puternic, are trei neveste, fii si fiice care sa-i duca stirpea mai departe si indrazneala care-l ajuta sa tina piept oricarei nenorociri. Soarta il loveste O lume se destrama s-a vindut in mai bine de 12 milioane de exemplare si a fost tradusa in peste 50 de limbi. Printre cei cu care imparte gloria tribului, Okonkwo este privit cu admiratie si incredere. El e un luptator puternic, are trei neveste, fii si fiice care sa-i duca stirpea mai departe si indrazneala care-l ajuta sa tina piept oricarei nenorociri. Soarta il loveste insa la o sarba-toare, cind, fara sa-si dea seama, omoara un baiat din acelasi neam. Urmind legile stramosilor, Okonkwo pleaca alaturi de familia sa in exil timp de sapte ani, sapte ani in care-si rumega minia si sperantele, in care-si vede copiii crescind, in care-si pregateste rabdator revenirea. La intoarcerea pe paminturile neamului, lucrurile nu mai sint la fel. Glorioasa memorie a zeilor e stearsa de aparitia dumnezeului unor straini: oamenii albi. In fata acestei amenintari necunoscute, micile dusmanii ale tribului palesc, zeii Igbo isi aduna poporul la arme, iar Okonkwo simte mindria luptatorului de altadata facindu-i inima sa-i tresalte in piept.


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O lume se destrama s-a vindut in mai bine de 12 milioane de exemplare si a fost tradusa in peste 50 de limbi. Printre cei cu care imparte gloria tribului, Okonkwo este privit cu admiratie si incredere. El e un luptator puternic, are trei neveste, fii si fiice care sa-i duca stirpea mai departe si indrazneala care-l ajuta sa tina piept oricarei nenorociri. Soarta il loveste O lume se destrama s-a vindut in mai bine de 12 milioane de exemplare si a fost tradusa in peste 50 de limbi. Printre cei cu care imparte gloria tribului, Okonkwo este privit cu admiratie si incredere. El e un luptator puternic, are trei neveste, fii si fiice care sa-i duca stirpea mai departe si indrazneala care-l ajuta sa tina piept oricarei nenorociri. Soarta il loveste insa la o sarba-toare, cind, fara sa-si dea seama, omoara un baiat din acelasi neam. Urmind legile stramosilor, Okonkwo pleaca alaturi de familia sa in exil timp de sapte ani, sapte ani in care-si rumega minia si sperantele, in care-si vede copiii crescind, in care-si pregateste rabdator revenirea. La intoarcerea pe paminturile neamului, lucrurile nu mai sint la fel. Glorioasa memorie a zeilor e stearsa de aparitia dumnezeului unor straini: oamenii albi. In fata acestei amenintari necunoscute, micile dusmanii ale tribului palesc, zeii Igbo isi aduna poporul la arme, iar Okonkwo simte mindria luptatorului de altadata facindu-i inima sa-i tresalte in piept.

30 review for O lume se destramă

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rowena

    “The drums were still beating, persistent and unchanging. Their sound was no longer a separate thing from the living village. It was like the pulsation of its heart. It throbbed in the air, in the sunshine, and even in the trees, and filled the village with excitement.” - Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart This is a book of many contrasts; colonialism and traditional culture, animism and Christianity, the masculine and the feminine, and the ignorant and the aware (although who is who depends on who “The drums were still beating, persistent and unchanging. Their sound was no longer a separate thing from the living village. It was like the pulsation of its heart. It throbbed in the air, in the sunshine, and even in the trees, and filled the village with excitement.” - Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart This is a book of many contrasts; colonialism and traditional culture, animism and Christianity, the masculine and the feminine, and the ignorant and the aware (although who is who depends on who’s speaking). Okonkwo is one of the most intriguing characters in African fiction. He epitomizes so much I dislike; he’s abusive, misogynist, has very little patience or tolerance for the weak, and is perhaps he’s even over-ambitious. Despite all his faults, it’s impossible not to pity him a little because, after all, the life he knows, the life of his ancestors, is being taken from him quite cruelly by the British settlers. This book really takes the reader into the Igbo culture. Achebe shows the traditional culture very well, a culture which is rife with superstition but rich in context. I loved the inclusion of the African proverbs and folk tales, and the details of the Igbo clan system. Achebe also shows how tightknit precolonial African culture was and how, despite not having the so-called civilized institutions, things went pretty smoothly because of the community spirit and also the societal rules. The importance of ancestors in society is a part of this: “The land of the living was not far removed from the domain of the ancestors. There was coming and going between them.” Achebe managed to inject some humour into such bleak subject matter, although I think this feat is quite common among African writers: ”You grew your ears for decoration, not for hearing.” What I found difficult to come to terms with, as an African Christian myself, is the horrific way Christianity was introduced to the African continent. However, despite the lack of respect the colonialists showed to the people, it’s hard to deny that there were some aspects of African tradition that were outdated and people had the option of leaving such tradition behind, especially if it was harmful. For example, in this book the outcasts and the parents of twin babies (who had to kill their babies to prevent evil from entering the village) obviously found it easier to abandon tradition. I think this book was the first one that made me realize the terrible impact of colonialism. I’ve always been curious about how Chinese women with bound feet must have felt after that fashion was seen as barbaric and unfashionable, and in the same vein I’ve also wondered about how those in African cultures who had lots of power and were accorded lots of respect might have felt when new values undermined everything they had worked towards. This book reminds me a lot of Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s “The River Between” which focuses on similar subject matter, albeit on the other side of the continent (Kenya). I would highly recommend both of them.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Skylar Burris

    This review is now on my blog: https://www.skylarb.com/single-post/2...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    My son and I had a long talk about this novel the other day, after he finished reading it for an English class. Over the course of the study unit, we had been talking about Chinua Achebe's fabulous juxtaposition of different layers of society, both within Okonkwo's tribe, and within the colonialist community. We had been reflecting on aspects of the tribe that we found hard to understand, being foreign and against certain human rights we take for granted, most notably parts of the strict hierarc My son and I had a long talk about this novel the other day, after he finished reading it for an English class. Over the course of the study unit, we had been talking about Chinua Achebe's fabulous juxtaposition of different layers of society, both within Okonkwo's tribe, and within the colonialist community. We had been reflecting on aspects of the tribe that we found hard to understand, being foreign and against certain human rights we take for granted, most notably parts of the strict hierarchy and the role of women. And we had been angry together at the inhumane arrogance and violence of the Europeans, who were only in charge based on their technological development level, not on cultural superiority. We had thought about the roles of men and women, and of individuals in their relation to their families and social environment. We had touched on the hypocrisy of religious missions. I had dwelt on the title and its beautiful context, the poem by Yeats, more relevant now than ever: "Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity." We had compared Okonkwo to the skilled falcon, and the ruthless Europeans to falconers killing and destroying without reason. And "The best lack all conviction..." - a sad truth in an era of a radicalised political climate. We agreed that the novel was excellent, timeless and universally important. And then came the last paragraph... If a novel can make a 14-year-old genuinely upset, angry, and frustrated to the point of wanting to slap a fictional character, then the author has managed to convey a message, I'd say. He got me engaged as well, and I could feel my nausea towards the Commissioner re-emerge instantly when reading his arrogant final thoughts, after the tragic showdown: "The story of this man who had killed a messenger and hanged himself would make interesting reading. One could almost write a whole chapter on him. Perhaps not a whole chapter but a reasonable paragraph, at any rate. There was so much else to include, and one must be firm in cutting out details. He had already chosen the title of the book, after much thought: The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger." The discussion between my son and myself focused on how the commissioner managed to marginalise a whole life, which we had breathlessly followed in the preceding pages, to a mere paragraph in a text of his own vain invention, with zero relation to the true circumstances. My son claimed it was one of the best endings he had ever read - for the sudden change of perspective that disrupted the story and made it stand out in sharp contrast. Then we continued talking. Best endings? Which ones could possibly compete? First one up was One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Its last sentence also puts individual suffering into a wider perspective, in this case a time frame: “The end of an unclouded day. Almost a happy one. Just one of the 3,653 days of his sentence, from bell to bell. The extra three were for leap years.” Neither my son nor I will ever get over that counting of three extra days for leap years... Second up was All Quiet on the Western Front, in which the death of the narrator is reported in a last paragraph that indicates that the main character's life is of so little importance that newspapers wrote there was "Nothing New on the Western Front". His so-called heroic death drowned in the meaningless mass dying, his suffering was completely without purpose in the bigger machinations of politics on national level. And yet, he had been so incredibly alive and opinionated and experienced, just the day before... Then the last one we could think of (mirroring our shared reading experience), was the horrible case of a last sentence showing the victim's complete identification with the tyrant, the falcon loving the falconer, Orwell's closing line in 1984: "He loved Big Brother." The brutality of the comparison made my son say: "At least Okonkwo made his final choice on his own." As sad as it is, we felt grateful for that. But what a brave new world, that has such people in it! Must-read. Must-talk-about!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs the Bookdragon

    Achebe’s protagonist isn’t a very nice man. In reality he is an asshole. I don’t like him. I don’t think anyone really does. He is ruthless and unsympathetic to his fellow man. He grew up in a warrior’s culture; the only way to be successful was to be completely uncompromising and remorseless. His father was weak and worthless, according to him, so he approached life with an unshakable will to conquer it with his overbearing masculinity. ”When Unoka died he had taken no title at all and he was h Achebe’s protagonist isn’t a very nice man. In reality he is an asshole. I don’t like him. I don’t think anyone really does. He is ruthless and unsympathetic to his fellow man. He grew up in a warrior’s culture; the only way to be successful was to be completely uncompromising and remorseless. His father was weak and worthless, according to him, so he approached life with an unshakable will to conquer it with his overbearing masculinity. ”When Unoka died he had taken no title at all and he was heavy in debt. Any wonder then that his son Okonkwo was ashamed of him? Fortunately, among these people a man as judged according to his worth and not according to the worth of his farther.” I love the sarcasm in this quote. Achebe is clearly suggesting that this is not true for the white man. For all their supposed superiority, they cannot get this simple thing right. The African tribe here has a better system of promotion based on merit. The warrior Okonkwo has a chance to prove himself regardless of what occurs in the more “civilised” part of the world. And here is the crux of the novel. Achebe gives the black man a voice; he gives him culture and civilisation. These men are not represented in an unjust way. He is directly responding to the ignorant trend in Victorian literature that represented the colonised as unintelligible and voiceless: they were shown to be savage. Achebe gives us the reality. This quote says it all: “If you don't like my story, write your own”. And that’s exactly what he did himself. He holds no judgement. His protagonist is completely flawed. Okonkwo is without mercy; he has earnt his fame and respect, so when an untitled youngster speaks out he is immediately roused to anger. This is his hamartia, his tragic flaw, he must overcome this and treat his fellow tribesmen with a degree of dignity. But, he is a slow learner. And who can blame him? For all his brutality and misogyny, this is till his culture. This is all he has ever known, whether it’s right or wrong doesn’t matter. Granted, not all the men are as extreme as him. He uses his position to extract violence more than most. His wives are often the focal point for his rage, much to their misfortune. He sounds like a bad man; he’s certainly not a nice man, but that’s not the point. Achebe’s meaning, and the power of this story is revealed at the end. I found this very unusual, but it was also very effective. The point of this novel is to show how uncompromising the white man is. That’s an obvious point, though what I mean to say is that its full effect is revealed at the end. The Nigerian culture, the way of life for the tribe folk in this novel, is forced to change because if it doesn’t it will be destroyed in its entirety. The protagonist represents this; he has to deal with the crisis. He had a choice: he could either accept the white man’s way, and be changed forever, or he could stick to his own customs and, ultimately, fall. -Language is the key: “Among the Igbo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.” Africa does not possess a silent culture. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness was wrong. African language is formal, developed and intelligent. Here in Nigeria is the conduit for the Igbo culture. It is rich in oral tradition. Achebe recognises that to accept a new language is to shun the original culture. Achebe shows that Igbo tradition is dependent on storytelling and language, to accept English would destroy the Igbo traditions. It would alienate the Africans form their culture; thus, resistance, however futile, is the natural and just response. Okonkwo’s reactions are deeply symbolic of a culture that is about to collapse. I think what Achebe is trying to portray here is the quietness of the African voice. It had no say. It doesn’t matter if the colonisers were kind or brutal; it doesn’t matter what the Nigerian culture was like in terms of ethics. What matters is that it was taken away or shaped into something else entirely. This was not progress but assimilation. All culture has its flaws, that’s true for any society, but the white one, for all its self-aggrandisement, was nothing but imposing. And for Achebe this is the ruination of the voice he was trying to channel. “The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jim Fonseca

    Written in 1958, this is the classic African novel about how colonialism impacted and undermined traditional African culture. It’s set among the Igbo people of Nigeria (aka Ibos). A key phrase is found late in the book: “He [the white man] has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.” Wiki calls the book the most widely read book in modern African literature. The main character is a strong man, the village wrestling champion. He has three wives and many children, Written in 1958, this is the classic African novel about how colonialism impacted and undermined traditional African culture. It’s set among the Igbo people of Nigeria (aka Ibos). A key phrase is found late in the book: “He [the white man] has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.” Wiki calls the book the most widely read book in modern African literature. The main character is a strong man, the village wrestling champion. He has three wives and many children, although the wealthiest man in the village has three barns, nine wives and thirty children. He’s not above beating his wives when the spirit moves him. He seems ruled by anger and fear. There’s not a lot of plot. He struggles at first to become established. There are some bad crop years but all in all, things go reasonably well. Then he accidentally kills a fellow tribesman and suffers the punishment imposed by the village elders of being banished for seven years. He loses his land and his accumulated wealth and has to go back to his mother’s village, dreaming of his return. When he does return, white rule has extended its influence into his village and everything has changed. The British have brought greater prosperity, a school and a clinic but at a tremendous cost, mainly in imposing their laws and legal system above the traditional rule by village elders. A Christian church has been built and many are leaving the old gods and converting, including one of the main character’s sons. Retaliation by the whites is swift: a nearby village killed a white man driving a car (they had never seen a car before) and in retaliation, soldiers came and machine-gunned the marketplace – men, women, children; basically annihilating the village. Much of the book is anthropological. A description of village councils, a priestess, crop cultivation, food preparation, and all the elaborate rituals around bride price negotiations, weddings, funerals and their gods. I liked many of the idioms and proverbs scattered throughout the text: “There must be a reason for it. A toad does not run in the daytime for nothing.” “An old woman is always uneasy when dry bones are mentioned in a proverb.” “Eneke the bird says that since men have learned how to shoot without missing, he has learned to fly without perching.” “As a man danced, so the drums were beaten for him.” The author(1930-2013) was raised as a Christian, went to college in Nigeria, became a journalist and started writing. With his fame he eventually moved to the US as a professor at Brown University. He turned the book into a trilogy, adding No Longer at Ease in 1960 and then Arrow of God in 1964. He also gained some fame by writing an academic paper attacking Joseph Conrad as “a thoroughgoing racist." A good read and classic. Top: old photo of the (also Igbos) from diaryofanegress.com Modern-day family Igbo family from hometown.ng Photo of the author in 2008 from Wikipedia.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alok Mishra

    How to attempt a balanced review of Things Fall Apart: 1. The book is serious. Themes and issues dealt in the book are far more serious than many other books written by the contemporary authors of Achebe. 2. The colonial abstract takes an altogether different turn as Achebe explores that colonisers not only colonised the land and properties but also the minds and hearts of the native people. 3. Racism has been dealt very aptly and also religious hypocrisy - different churches for the people who How to attempt a balanced review of Things Fall Apart: 1. The book is serious. Themes and issues dealt in the book are far more serious than many other books written by the contemporary authors of Achebe. 2. The colonial abstract takes an altogether different turn as Achebe explores that colonisers not only colonised the land and properties but also the minds and hearts of the native people. 3. Racism has been dealt very aptly and also religious hypocrisy - different churches for the people who have converted. 4. The plot might seem relaxed and lazy (almost) if you ignore the themes and issues. However, the plot is more than enough to keep the 'readers' engaged. DO I recommend the book - yes, of course!

  7. 5 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    The act of writing is strangely powerful, almost magical: to take ideas and put them into a lasting, physical form that can persist outside of the mind. For a culture without a written tradition, a libraries are not great structures of stone full of objects--instead, stories are curated within flesh, locked up in a cage of bone. To know the story, you must go to the storyteller. In order for that story to persist through time, it must be retold and rememorized by successive generations. A book, s The act of writing is strangely powerful, almost magical: to take ideas and put them into a lasting, physical form that can persist outside of the mind. For a culture without a written tradition, a libraries are not great structures of stone full of objects--instead, stories are curated within flesh, locked up in a cage of bone. To know the story, you must go to the storyteller. In order for that story to persist through time, it must be retold and rememorized by successive generations. A book, scroll, or tablet, on the other hand, can be rediscovered thousands of years later, after all those who were familiar with the story are long dead--and miraculously, the stories within it can be delivered to modern man in the very same words the ancients used. If, in Qumran cave, we had found the dry bones of the scribe who copied the dead sea scrolls instead of the scrolls themselves, we would have no access to any of his knowledge. Any library can be destroyed, whether the tales are stored in the mind of a bard or on the skins of animals, but unwritten history is much more fragile--after all, speech is nothing more than wind, which cannot be dug up from the earth a century later. All lands have their own histories, but sadly, we only get to hear a scant few in their own words. We know that Africa had empires as complex and powerful as those of Europe--beyond the well-known examples of Egypt and Carthage, the Romans give us secondary evidence of the great Central African empires from which they got their salt and gold, alongside many subsequent references--but in the end, these amount to little more than myths and legends. Carthage itself was so thoroughly destroyed that Rome basically erased their true history, replacing it with Roman propaganda and rumor-mongering, until in The Aeneid, Carthage becomes nothing more than Rome’s jealous, jilted lover--instead of what she truly was: the template of naval dominance and mercantile power that Rome copied and built her empire upon. The African continent is just as full of ruins and archaeological treasures as Europe or Asia, but due to rampant social and economic instability caused by multinationals squabbling over resources and profits in the power vacuum left in the wake of post-colonialism, it’s not currently safe or supportable to research these sites and rediscover the cultures they represent. Hopefully someday, we will be able to uncover this wealth of knowledge, but until then, we can only imagine all that we have missed: the great loves and wars of Africa, the dark-skinned Caesars and Helens, the Subotais and Musashis of the savanna. But not all is lost to us. We still have pieces of the puzzle: the fact that fractal math, on which we base our computer languages, comes from North African divination (which is why Fibonacci had to go there to learn it), or the fact that most of the Greek and Roman texts upon which the Western literary tradition is based were passed down to us not from Christian monks, but Islamic scholars (this is why Averroes appears in Raphael's School of Athens , and why he and Avicenna appear alongside Plato and Aristotle in the works of Dante). The glory of Benin City, the wealth of Mansa Musa--all these await the student of African histories. Plus, there are still storytellers in Africa--the lineages through which their histories have passed are not all dead. Though the words were not written down, we can research them, all the same--looking for lost ‘texts’, rare tales, and compiling them, collecting them, and finally giving voice to histories that have been too-long obscured. Knowing all of this, I thirsted for depth and complexity from Achebe--to get a view into one of the innumerable cultures of Africa. The power of a story from a different culture is in defamiliarization. Though all cultures share certain universal ideas: love, freedom, revenge, tyranny--the way they are expressed in each particular culture can be eye opening. So, they are capable of showing us familiar things, but making them feel new, making us look at them in a fresh way. Yet, that's not what I got from this book--indeed, everything in it felt immediately recognizable and familiar, not merely in the sense of 'universal human experience', but in almost every detail of expression and structure. I have read modern stories by fellow American authors which were stranger and produced more culture shock, more defamiliarization than this--but perhaps that was Achebe's intention. He expressed in interviews just how difficult it was for an African author to publish a novel at all--that no one assumed an African would want to write their own story, and the manuscript was almost lost because the typing agency just didn't take it seriously. Back then, the very notion that Africa might have a history outside of Egypt was controversial--even though it seems simple and obvious to us now that of course every people in every nation has their own history, and the desire for their unique voices to be heard. So, perhaps it would have been impossible to write a more complex book, that it just wouldn't have been received--Achebe was among the first generation of his people to be college educated, in a branch of a London University opened in Nigeria taught by White, English teachers. More than that, he may have been trying to show that his own culture was just like the culture of his teachers--to stress the similarities instead of the differences. So then, it makes sense that Achebe is not writing a primer of his culture, but is rather reflecting European culture back at itself, from the mouth of an Igbo man (a brave and revolutionary act!). After all, he was the consummate Western man of letters, by his education, and everything about his book's form reflects that. It is written, not oral, it is in English, it aligns neatly to the Greek tragic structure and the form of the novel--and even the title is taken from one of the most famous poems in the English language. Achebe is hardly being coy with his inspirations here--he wants us to know that he is adopting Western forms, he wants us to recognize them, to mark them. He is aware that this is a post-colonial work, a work from a culture that has already been colonized, and is responding to that colonization. This is not a voice from the past--the discovery of Gilgamesh buried in the sands--it is a modern voice speaking from the center of the storm. The central theme is the onset of colonization, the conflict between the tribe and the European forces just beginning to encroach upon them. Like his most notable lecture, this book is a deliberate response to writers like Conrad, Kipling, and Haggard. I'm not trying to suggest that it's a problem that Achebe is writing in the Western style, or that he's somehow 'too Western'--because it's any author's prerogative if they want to study and explore Western themes. Indeed, as Said observed, it's vital that writers reach across these boundaries, that we don't just force them into a niche where 'women writers write the female experience' and 'Asian writers write the Asian experience'--because that's just racial determinism: due to the culture you're born in, you can only every write one thing (unless you're a White man, and then you can write whatever you like). Indeed, one cannot confront colonialism without understanding it, adopting its forms, and turning them against the power structure. Achebe himself recognized that an oppressed individual has to use every tool to his advantage to fight back--even those tools brought in by the oppressors, such as the English language, which Achebe realized would allow him to communicate with colonized peoples from countries around the world. Authors from all sorts of national and cultural background have taken on the Western style in this way, and proven that they can write just as ably as any Westerner. Unfortunately, that's not the case with this book. As a traditionally Western tale, there just isn't a lot to it. It is a tale of personal disintegration representing the loss of culture, and of purpose. It is an existential mode seen in Arthur Miller, Joseph Heller, and J.D. Salinger--but by trying to make the story more universal, Achebe has watered it down too much, so that it lacks depth, sympathy, and possibility. His existentialism is remarkable for its completeness. There is no character who is wholly sympathetic, nor wholly vile. There is no culture or point of view which is either elevated or vilified. Achebe is extremely fair, presenting the flaws of all men, and of the organizations under which they live, be they Western or African in origin. Like Heller or Miller, his representation of mankind is almost unfailingly negative. Small moments of beauty, joy, or innocence are always mitigated. They exist only in the inflated egos of the characters, or the moralizing ideals of the culture. Unlike Miller, he does not give us the chance to sympathize. There are not those quiet moments of introspection that make Death of a Salesman so personally tragic. Unlike Heller, Achebe does not contrast the overwhelming weight of loss with sardonic and wry humor. This is not the hyperbole of Belinda's lock, nor the mad passion of Hamlet. Achebe's characters are not able to find their own meaning in hopelessness--nor do they even struggle to find it and fail, they cannot even laugh at themselves. They persist only through naivete and escapism, and since the reader sees through them, we see that this world has only despondence and delusion. The constant reminder of this disappointment makes the book difficult to connect with. Since all the hope we are given is almost immediately false, there is little dynamic possibility. Everything is already lost, we only wait on the characters to realize it. It is difficult to court the reader's sympathy when there is nothing left to be hopeful for. With no counterpoint to despondence--not even a false one--it is hard to create narrative depth, to reveal, or to surprise. Trying to write a climax through such a pervasive depression is like trying to raise a mountain in a valley. No matter how hard they try, there is no visible path to success. Nothing is certain, and the odds against are often overwhelming. Achebe felt this doubly, as an author and a colonized citizen. He succeeds in presenting hopelessness, sometimes reaching Sysiphean Absurdism, but with too few grains to weigh in the scale against it, his tale presents only a part of the human experience. Though we may know that others suffer, this is not the same as comprehending their suffering. The mother who says 'eat your peas, kids are starving in Africa' succeeds more through misdirection than by revealing the inequalities of politics and the human state. Achebe presents suffering to us, but it is not sympathetic; we see it, but are not invited to feel it. His world loses depth and dimension, becomes scattered, and while this does show us the way that things may fall apart, particularly all things human, this work is more an exercise in nihilism than a representation of the human experience. So, it ends up being one of those books that it more notable for its place in the canon than its quality. It was certainly a brave and revolutionary act for Achebe to write it, and to persist with it, but the book itself is less impressive than the gesture that produced it. For me, it becomes prototypical of a whole movement of books by people of non-Western descent who get praised and published precisely because they parrot back Western values at us and avoid confronting us with actual cultural differences, while at the same time using a thin patina of 'foreignness' to feel suitably exotic, so that the average Western reader can feel more worldly for having read them. It's flat works like The Kite Runner or House Made of Dawn which are just exotic enough to titillate without actually requiring that the reader learn anything about the culture in order to appreciate it--because of course every guilt-ridden Liberal Westerner wants to read about other cultures, but as Stewart Lee put it: "... not like that, Stew, not where you have to know anything ..." In the most extreme cases you get something like The Education of Little Tree , where a racist KKK member pretends to be a Native American and writes a book so saccharine, so apologetic and appeasing of White guilt that it can't help but become a best-seller--because it turns out that no one is better at predicting what comforting things Middle America wants to hear about race than a member of the KKK. Of course, I'm not suggesting that Achebe is anywhere near that--just that it makes obvious the problem with judging a book by its historical place rather than the actual words on the page. Indeed, it's downright insulting to the author and the culture. It's the same response people would have to hearing that a dog wrote a book: 'Wow! I've got to read that!"--which has nothing to do with the quality of the book, and everything to do with the fact that we have very low expectations of dogs. To treat a person the same way because they are from another culture is pure condescension. Just because someone is born into a culture, that does not make them representative of that culture--authenticity is not an in-born trait, which is the problem of the illusion of the 'pure voice', because there is no pure cultural voice, and to imagine there is is to reduce that culture to a stereotype. A woman can be a misogynist, an African American can hate his own people. To suggest that somehow, a person's views and perspective are in-born and unchangeable is simply racism--and it doesn't matter if the trait you are assigning to that race is positive or negative, it's still a limitation you're putting on that person. Non-Westerners are just as capable of creating great works of art as Westerners--but they are also just as capable of writing cliche tripe. Like any other human being, they run the gamut from brilliant to dull, from bigoted to open-minded, from staid to imaginative. As such, there's no reason to grade non-Western authors on some kind of sliding scale, to expect less from them, or to be any less disappointed when their works fall short. Of course, we shouldn't judge their work by Western standards, either--to blame a Japanese fairytale for not being Hamlet--unless like Achebe they are writing in a recognizable Western style and deliberately drawing that comparison. While there's certainly something to be said for 'getting your foot in the door', that isn't a defense of the book itself--of its plot, characters, or themes. It's also too much to place Africa on Achebe's shoulders--to pretend as if there aren't thousands of unique cultures, histories, and traditions there--and yet that is what we do. We make Achebe into a point of entry to a whole continent, which is a massive burden to place on anyone. Much better to look at the book itself--its words and images--than to try to make it into something that it is not. A book that lasts can't just be its place and time, it needs to have a deeper vein that successive generations can return to over and over, and I didn't find that here. Indeed, I find it ironic that Achebe has so attacked Conrad, because like Achebe’s work, Heart of Darkness is remarkable because it does take a stand against colonialism and racism. It is admittedly an early stand, and an incomplete presentation, just like Achebe’s. It works only because it is situated in that certain way, transgressive but not too transgressive to alienate its audience--not quite able to escape being a product of its time, but still managing to point the way to the future. But Conrad is not merely revolutionary by his stance, he has also written a fascinating and fraught book, complex and many-layered, which succeeds despite its shortfalls. Things Fall Apart, in contrast, is a book that only works because of its positioning, and has little further depth to recommend it. I cannot say that the book was not effective, in its place and time--because it certainly was--or that it hasn't been inspirational, but in the end, Achebe's revolutionary gesture far outshines the meager story beneath it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    Okonkwo achieved success at an early age .. 18, the wrestling champ of his tribe the Ibo in colonial Nigeria, fame did not bring riches the hard work on his farm accomplished that . His lazy flute playing father Unoka embarrasses him, neglects his wives and children (the son Okonkwo determines never to be poor) dying with a vast amount of debts . He on the other hand becomes an important man in the village marries three women, having numerous children, however times are changing a new religion Okonkwo achieved success at an early age .. 18, the wrestling champ of his tribe the Ibo in colonial Nigeria, fame did not bring riches the hard work on his farm accomplished that . His lazy flute playing father Unoka embarrasses him, neglects his wives and children (the son Okonkwo determines never to be poor) dying with a vast amount of debts . He on the other hand becomes an important man in the village marries three women, having numerous children, however times are changing a new religion arrives, the old gods and customs are slowly vanishing like a poof of smoke on a windy day. Still many resist, trouble brews as if a pot of hot coffee, led by Okonkwo...why can't things stay the same? The fierce warrior has killed many in the tribal wars , they have to be respected or their rivals will be punished severely, the pride of the Ibo must be maintained . A quite unfortunate occurrence an accident causes the unbeaten rambunctious thoroughly unafraid former wrestling champ to flee his native village exiled for seven years to his mother's home, the disaster humiliated his whole family he has to begin again with his children and wives. Years pass not very fast yet finally back goes Okonkwo , nevertheless the clock doesn't stand still, the atmosphere flows with a strange current... However the missionaries build a church on an evil spot in the village where the spirits of the cursed thrive , an infestation is known to the frightened people even so the Christians aren't. Converts begin to flock to the building in Umuofia , a Mr. Brown the head missionary a white man a gentle soul gets many new members even Nwoye , Okonkwo's troubled son, a weak person with little ambition this shames the great man. If only he thinks his favorite child the dynamic, always faithful and beautiful daughter, clever Ezinma was male everything would be different nature is not fair, she is such a facsimile. Strife is about to commence and death as inevitable as rain follows, but what will the British soldiers do their harsh rule is well known and the survivors will learn for a while at least. The most popular book in modern Africa selling over twenty million copies and I see the reasons, it tells the story of the continent's warts and all, the good the bad, the history. This is better than a history book for the facts are dry but the human experiences are not, blood is messy...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    Y'know when you read a novel that is just so stark and bare and depraved that you know it's going to stay with you for a very long time? Yep, it's happened guys. It's happened. This novel ruined me. Ugh it's so great and so horrible. It's what Yeats would describe as a "terrible beauty". Read it, let it wreck you, and bathe in its importance.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    In this classic tale Okonkwo is a strong man in his village, and in his region of nine villages. At age 18 he beat the reigning wrestling champion and has been an industrious worker all his life, a reaction to his lazy, drunkard father. He lives his life within the cultural confines of his limited world, following the laws that govern his society, accepting the religious faith of his surroundings, acting on both, even when those actions would seem, to us in the modern west, an abomination. While In this classic tale Okonkwo is a strong man in his village, and in his region of nine villages. At age 18 he beat the reigning wrestling champion and has been an industrious worker all his life, a reaction to his lazy, drunkard father. He lives his life within the cultural confines of his limited world, following the laws that govern his society, accepting the religious faith of his surroundings, acting on both, even when those actions would seem, to us in the modern west, an abomination. While he may succeed and fail within the confines of his society’s laws, what he cannot do is adapt himself to the world when it goes through a dramatic transformation. In this case, his home town is revolutionized when white missionaries set up a base and bring along with them the firepower of western weapons. Unable to cope, unable to channel his justifiable rage into constructive actions, he is led inexorably to his doom. Chinua Achebe - from the Salon article noted below What is this book about? It is a simple tale. The details of Okonkwo’s experiences accumulate to give us a picture of his times, his culture, so we have a sense of what is at stake when change arrives. Is this a warning to us of our own inability to see beyond the confines of our culture? How will we cope with change when it comes, in whatever form? I found it difficult keeping track of the characters. This is a case in which a diagram of a family tree would probably come in handy. Yet, ultimately, this is not so important. What matters is that we get a sense of Okonkowo‘s world. And the impact of the West arriving in an African society. This book is considered a classic,and for good reason. =============================EXTRA STUFF There is a wonderful video of John Green talking about the book. Must-see. In fact you could do worse than skipping the above review entirely and checking out Green's vid. And there is a second episode of his vid on the book as well. Have at it. In 2013, Salon republished a wonderful 2010 essay, Chinua Achebe: The man who rediscovered Africa, on news of his passing.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    I 'finally' read this book - the 50th Anniversary Edition- THANK YOU for the book Loretta!!! I'm sorry it took me so long to read it!!!! Interesting timing for me, too, having just read "NW" by Zadie Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- and a couple of James Baldwin books recently---plus, yesterday was Martin Luther King's day. African identity, nationalism, decolonization, racism, sexism, competing cultural systems, languages -and dialogue, social political issues have been in my space!! I didn't kn I 'finally' read this book - the 50th Anniversary Edition- THANK YOU for the book Loretta!!! I'm sorry it took me so long to read it!!!! Interesting timing for me, too, having just read "NW" by Zadie Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- and a couple of James Baldwin books recently---plus, yesterday was Martin Luther King's day. African identity, nationalism, decolonization, racism, sexism, competing cultural systems, languages -and dialogue, social political issues have been in my space!! I didn't know what to expect...."may be Africa's best-loved novel...For so many readers around the world, it is Chinua Achebe who opened up the magic casements of African fiction" ----by Kwame Anthony Appiah. After I read this book -- joining thousands and thousands of others around the world feeling disturbed & conflicted when I read lines like this: "I will not have a son who cannot hold up his head in the gathering of the clan. I would sooner strangle him with my own hands. And if you stand staring at me like that, he swore, Amadiora will break your head for you". ...... I wanted to 'also' read more about Kwame Anthony Appiah.... Who taught philosophy and African American studies at Yale and Harvard. He helped give me a broader understanding of this book. He studied ethics around the world. Things he had to say about "kindness to strangers", made sense to me. It is not for 'us' to save the poor and starving, but up to their own governments. Nation-states must assume responsibility for their citizens. In "Things Fall Apart", western culture is portrayed as arrogant and ethnocentric. Their culture was vulnerable to the western civilization. With so much sadness and tragedy in his culture, growing up as he did in .. China Achebe ( who wrote in English), was amazing!!!!! He continues to have influence on other African novelists today..... inspiring writers around the world. Readers too! Never too late to read "Things Fall Apart"

  12. 5 out of 5

    M.L. Rudolph

    1959. Love it or hate it, Achebe's tale of a flawed tribal patriarch is a powerful and important contribution to twentieth century literature. Think back to 1959. Liberation from colonial masters had not yet swept the African continent when this book appeared, but the pressures were building. The US civil rights movement had not yet erupted, but the forces were in motion. Communism and capitalism were fighting a pitched battle for control of hearts and minds, for bodies and land, around the world 1959. Love it or hate it, Achebe's tale of a flawed tribal patriarch is a powerful and important contribution to twentieth century literature. Think back to 1959. Liberation from colonial masters had not yet swept the African continent when this book appeared, but the pressures were building. The US civil rights movement had not yet erupted, but the forces were in motion. Communism and capitalism were fighting a pitched battle for control of hearts and minds, for bodies and land, around the world. Africans would suffer under the proxy wars waged there to keep the Cold War cold. Achebe tells the tale of Okonkwo, a young man of some fame throughout the nine villages and beyond, for his wrestling prowess. He is a product of his land, his culture, his religion, and his people. He represents a way of life which admires and rewards strength, loyalty, hard work, a strong hand, and strict adherence to a social code. He builds his life, takes wives, works his land, produces boys and girls to honor and carry on his legacy. When duty to the tribe makes demands, he must respond even if that response requires great personal sacrifice. You can't read this book through the prism of your own experience. Part of the mystery of fiction from cultures far afield from your own is the chance it affords to consider how men and women of a certain time and place grappled with the very human issue of living within an exotic social group. Consider your own social group, and imagine how you would explain your daily and exceptional actions to someone from another religion, from another country, from another language group, from another generation, from another century. Where would you start? Perhaps by considering how you spend a normal day, then how you arrived at the great choices that formed your life. That's a helluva task to set yourself. In my humble opinion, that was the task Achebe set for himself in writing this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    A real tour de force; but a plain tale simply told. Achebe illustrates and explains rather than judges and provides a moving and very human story of change and disintegration. Set in Nigeria in the nineteenth century it tells the story of Okonkwo and his family and community. He is a man tied to his culture and tradition and fighting to be different to his father. He is strong and proud and unable to show his feelings. His courage and rashness get him into trouble with his community and traditio A real tour de force; but a plain tale simply told. Achebe illustrates and explains rather than judges and provides a moving and very human story of change and disintegration. Set in Nigeria in the nineteenth century it tells the story of Okonkwo and his family and community. He is a man tied to his culture and tradition and fighting to be different to his father. He is strong and proud and unable to show his feelings. His courage and rashness get him into trouble with his community and traditions. The book also charts the coming of Christian missionaries to the area and the effects they had; especially in attrating those who were outcast and of low status. Okonwko's fate is tragic and is representative of the destruction of his culture. I have been puzzled to read some of the negative reviews that just don't seem to get it; saying it is too alien(??), too simple, badly written and so on. Part of Achebe's genius is that he tells the tale like all good writers; he explains when he has too and creates nuanced characters. The white missionaries are not unthinking or one-dimensional; just convinced they are right. Okonwko is also nuanced; unable to show the feelings he clearly has (especially to his daughter) and so eager to be strong and to lead that he is unable to be compassionate like his peers. Achebe does not judge; he charts the decline of a culture. He is not saying one side is entirely good or bad and there are elements to shock (the treatment of twins) and areas of great strength. The brilliance is in the capturing of a period of change and cataclysm in the Ibo culture; but it is also a simple father/son relationship story. Achebe powerfully shows that like many of the greatest authors, he has the ability to put complex ideas across simply.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    4 Stars from what I remembered from reading this in high school 3 Stars from rereading it now This book is a classic that is on a lot of required reading lists. I can understand that as it gives a fictional glimpse into the Westernization of Africa. A topic like this is very heavy, controversial, and important – because of this, a tale in this genre is going to have a big impact and will easily make its way to must read status. When I read it in high school, I think I enjoyed it more than now becau 4 Stars from what I remembered from reading this in high school 3 Stars from rereading it now This book is a classic that is on a lot of required reading lists. I can understand that as it gives a fictional glimpse into the Westernization of Africa. A topic like this is very heavy, controversial, and important – because of this, a tale in this genre is going to have a big impact and will easily make its way to must read status. When I read it in high school, I think I enjoyed it more than now because the style of writing and subject matter were different than the typical high school reading. Also, back then I was much more interested in politics – in our current world, while I know stories like this are important, I tend to immediately shy away from being deeply interested in politically controversial stories. That doesn’t lessen the quality of writing or the message! When I read it this time, it felt very clinical and not very riveting. I know that some of the story was to lay the background of the people and how they lived, but it had trouble holding my interest. The book is only about 200 pages but it felt like it took forever to read. A couple of times I got done with a chapter feeling like I must have put a huge dent in it for the day, but when I went to update my status, I had only read 10 pages! Interesting side note: I remember the project I had to do for this book in high school was to write my own Clif Notes for the book. It was and enjoyable project, but I don’t think I did very good!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Duane

    Maybe the best thing about Achebe's, Things Fall Apart, is that it give us a look at African culture from the inside, from their perspective, how they viewed the world around them and their place in it. Most of the African novels I've read give the outside view, the colonial or Christian view, which unfairly judges a people and a culture they couldn't possibly understand. The story is set in the Nigerian village of Umuofia in the late 1800's. Since their culture is based on history and tradition, Maybe the best thing about Achebe's, Things Fall Apart, is that it give us a look at African culture from the inside, from their perspective, how they viewed the world around them and their place in it. Most of the African novels I've read give the outside view, the colonial or Christian view, which unfairly judges a people and a culture they couldn't possibly understand. The story is set in the Nigerian village of Umuofia in the late 1800's. Since their culture is based on history and tradition, things were probably much the same as they had been for centuries. So when the outsiders arrived, mostly white, mostly European, and in the beginning mostly Christian, the shock was unimaginable and, in many ways, catastrophic. The story revolves around the character Okonkwo, who dominates the narrative to the extent the book could have been titled Okonkwo. Dominate is the right word because that's Okonkwo's way. In village life, with his wives and children, he rules with an iron will. And when the "white man" shows up in the village, you knew that Okonkwo would be the wall of resistance. If you are interested in African culture, historical fiction, good writing, well here is your book. 4.5 stars.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    Achebe's classic is a quick and interesting read albeit with a depressingly realistic end. My curiosity will most likely lead me to more of his work and I enjoyed the narrative style. The ambiguities of cultural clash with an obvious misbalance of power and the two different kinda of brutality in the conflict were thought-provoking and painful to read because they were surely even worse in real life.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Whitney Atkinson

    I really enjoyed this book! It was the first book we read in my contemporary world literature class and it stirred some really good discussion. I'm all about any conversation in which I can discuss dismantling the patriarchy, and this book definitely dealt a lot with sexism, which is a topic I find infuriating yet interesting. The writing style was simple and quick to read, and although there wasn't an abundance of imagery, some of the similes/comparisons were really pretty! I thought this was a I really enjoyed this book! It was the first book we read in my contemporary world literature class and it stirred some really good discussion. I'm all about any conversation in which I can discuss dismantling the patriarchy, and this book definitely dealt a lot with sexism, which is a topic I find infuriating yet interesting. The writing style was simple and quick to read, and although there wasn't an abundance of imagery, some of the similes/comparisons were really pretty! I thought this was a great book to discuss and it was really interesting as far as learning the culture and religion of Nigerian villages! I can't wait to read and discuss more books in this class!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Frona

    I wondered for a while why this book felt more like a fieldwork than a guided mind tour, but the answer is obvious. It lays in the fact that the novel has little of that character building I'm used from reading mainly Western literature. The surroundings are not put in the background to serve only as a reflection of one's thought process, but form an organism of its own. Here, in the middle of an African village on the verge of white people's arrival, the rhythm of living is dictated by weather, I wondered for a while why this book felt more like a fieldwork than a guided mind tour, but the answer is obvious. It lays in the fact that the novel has little of that character building I'm used from reading mainly Western literature. The surroundings are not put in the background to serve only as a reflection of one's thought process, but form an organism of its own. Here, in the middle of an African village on the verge of white people's arrival, the rhythm of living is dictated by weather, crops and all sacred nature's inventions. Inner life is as important as any of intangible magical forces - not very much in comparison with the plenitude of all the other ephemeral things. Everything that transcends an individual is a cause for commotion. Marriage means a colossal feast and faraway death disturbs everyone's night rest. All the society's great events are accompanied by divine beings. With such a vast entourage, many of this distant world's characteristic that we condemn today (gender inequality, lack of education, ostracism...) feel at least as peaceful and joyous as the ones we've gotten used to cherish. Even some aspects of their arbitrary laws and consequent violence made me feel sorry for all that was lost in between. Without written, defined constitution, justice is made by people's spontaneous and versatile interpretations of it. Divine order (or nature as a whole) is an unfair judge; it speaks to everyone differently and its language is too similar to all kinds of prejudices and accumulated experiences. But it is also a very reassuring messenger. It makes everyone responsible only to itself, the whole. Wrongdoings are therefore punished only for restoration of the divine order; they have no integral fault or debt to society in themselves. Guilt is nonexistent and thinking about alternatives diminished. Nowadays, there's only camping left for a little bit of nature's touch.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    472. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart is a novel written by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. Published in 1958, its story chronicles the pre-colonial life in Nigeria and the arrival of the Europeans during the late nineteenth century. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, one of the first to receive global critical acclaim. It is a staple book in schools throughout Africa and is widely read and studied in English-speaking countries around the world. It was 472. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart is a novel written by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. Published in 1958, its story chronicles the pre-colonial life in Nigeria and the arrival of the Europeans during the late nineteenth century. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, one of the first to receive global critical acclaim. It is a staple book in schools throughout Africa and is widely read and studied in English-speaking countries around the world. It was first published by William Heinemann Ltd in the UK; in 1962, it was also the first work published in Heinemann's African Writers Series. The title of the novel was borrowed from W. B. Yeats' 1919 poem "The Second Coming". عنوانها: همه چیز فرو می‌پاشد؛ همه چیز فرو می‌ریزد؛ همه چیز از هم می‌پاشد؛ نویسنده: چینوا آچیه؛ (جوانه رشد، سروش، آستان قدس رضوی) ادبیات افریقا؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: بیست و چهارم ماه اکتبر سال 2012 میلادی عنوان: همه چیز فرو می‌پاشد؛ نویسنده: چینوا آچیه؛ مترجم: فرهاد منشوری؛ مشهد، آستان قدس؛ 1368؛ در 232 ص؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان افریقایی انگلیسی - سده 20 م عنوان: همه چیز فرو می‌ریزد؛ نویسنده: چینوا آچیه؛ مترجم: گلریز صفویان؛ تهران، سروش؛ 1377؛ در 240 ص؛ چاپ دوم 1388؛ شابک: 9789643767419؛ عنوان: همه چیز از هم می‌پاشد؛ نویسنده: چینوا آچیه؛ مترجم: علی هداوند؛ تهران، نیکا؛ 1391؛ در 224 ص؛ شابک: 9786009092024؛ عنوان: همه چیز فرو می‌پاشد؛ نویسنده: چینوا آچیه؛ مترجم: علی اصغر بهرامی؛ تهران، جوانه رشد، 1380؛ در 231 ص؛ شابک: 9646115012؛ عنوان: همه چیز فرو می‌پاشد؛ نویسنده: چینوا آچیه؛ مترجم: کامروا ابراهیمی؛ تهران، افراز، 1390، در 208 ص؛ شابک: 9789642435906؛ داستان در شرق نیجریه رخ میدهد، پیچیدگی های جامعه ای سنتی پیش از اشغال است توسط مسیونرها، نویسنده تراژدی قهرمان داستانش «اوکنک وو» و هم جامعه را باز مینماید. ا. شربیانی

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (Harmonybites)

    I found this a smooth, good read. Absorbing, well-paced, engrossing and not at all long--novella length. Sad to say, I don't as a rule expect good reads in those books upheld as modern classics, but this pulled me in. Someone who saw me reading it told me they found the style "Romper Room" and some reviews seem to echo that. I didn't feel that way. I'd call the style "spare"--which befits a writer who when asked which writers he admired and who influenced him named Hemingway along with Conrad an I found this a smooth, good read. Absorbing, well-paced, engrossing and not at all long--novella length. Sad to say, I don't as a rule expect good reads in those books upheld as modern classics, but this pulled me in. Someone who saw me reading it told me they found the style "Romper Room" and some reviews seem to echo that. I didn't feel that way. I'd call the style "spare"--which befits a writer who when asked which writers he admired and who influenced him named Hemingway along with Conrad and Graham Greene. And I loved how Achebe wove in folk tales and sayings and Ibo customs into the narrative. Things Fall Apart is considered a classic in African literature, and according to the introduction, Achebe wrote it to rehabilitate and counter what he called "the tarnished image of Africa," to give human dimension to the colonized. The first part gives us a nuanced and detailed picture of life in a pre-colonial Ibo village during the late Victorian era. To Achebe's credit, he doesn't present that life as idyllic and his central character, Okonkwu, who embodies the tribal values, is deeply flawed. Okonkwu equates manliness with violence, and has used violence on his own family. In an interview after the text, Achebe said his "sympathies were not entirely with Okonkwu." Achebe presents the ills that the colonists brought to the traditional village society--the division between families, the imposition of foreign rule, the corruption and brutality endemic in the system which even destroys an entire village in reprisal for the death of one white missionary. But Achebe also depicts what attracted people to the Christian missionaries beyond the schools and the hospitals, the trade. Among the first and most fervent converts are Oknokwu's own son Nwoye, bitter that his father killed his childhood friend who had tried to flee his fate as a human sacrifice, a pregnant woman who had lost several children because of the practice of twin infanticide, and two people from a taboo caste who find their first respect and equal treatment among the Christians. Frankly--and I know this is as un-PC as un-PC can be--but given Achebe's depiction of the brutal, superstitious, misogynist tribal culture, I was finding it very hard to see its destruction as tragic. Although, given all the different iterations I've seen and read of the "Dances With Wolves" motif, I did appreciate Achebe's willingness to show the unattractive side of a traditional culture. At the same time Oknokwu's friend Obierika says "the white man... has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart." And just as Oknokwu upheld that old center, when it falls apart he does too. And whatever ambivalence I might have felt for his fate and the values he stood for, few contemporary readers can read that last paragraph from the point of view of the white colonizing District Commissioner without disquiet or miss Achebe's sharp and bitter irony.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “There is no story that is not true.” ― Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart Achebe's Magnum Opus is one of those 'essential novels' where one can see its greatness while at the same moment understand that part of its strength lies not in anything the novel itself ever does, but in the place the novel holds in time and place. If 'Things Fall Apart' were written 40 years earlier it would have probably been ignored both in Africa and the West. If it had been written 40 years later, it would have been s “There is no story that is not true.” ― Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart Achebe's Magnum Opus is one of those 'essential novels' where one can see its greatness while at the same moment understand that part of its strength lies not in anything the novel itself ever does, but in the place the novel holds in time and place. If 'Things Fall Apart' were written 40 years earlier it would have probably been ignored both in Africa and the West. If it had been written 40 years later, it would have been seen as good postcolonialist novel, but just one of many. Coming when and where they did, 'Things Fall Apart'/Achebe managed to achieve greatness because they became the central model/mentor to which many later African novels/novelists would look as they tried to communicate their unique historical and cultural vision of modern Africa.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Praj

    I had said earlier in one of my former reviews, about how if a certain character is not overwhelmed by the plot-theme of a script and stands out on its own potency becoming more memorable than the story itself, the book is worth applauding and so is the author for its creation. When one reads Things Fall Apart, amongst its vast documentary of Igbo culture of the southeastern part of Nigeria; a man named Okonkwo shines not for his tragic fate but for the man he turned out to be due to his wither I had said earlier in one of my former reviews, about how if a certain character is not overwhelmed by the plot-theme of a script and stands out on its own potency becoming more memorable than the story itself, the book is worth applauding and so is the author for its creation. When one reads Things Fall Apart, amongst its vast documentary of Igbo culture of the southeastern part of Nigeria; a man named Okonkwo shines not for his tragic fate but for the man he turned out to be due to his withering circumstances. He was conceited, stubborn, ill-tempered, and ruthless, yet he took pride in the customary and social hierarchies of the powerful clan of Umuofia. He feared failure; a psychological diffidence nurtured through his father’s shortcomings. Okonkwo strived with hardcore determination to be the leader of the clan. He robustly stood tall like a tree , faced every crisis that came his way with obstinate wit, but sadly overlooked his own limitations and never learned to bend or turn like the grass to the changing winds and finally succumbed to the gust of harshness. My heart goes out to men like Okonkwo, whose personality represents numerous other men from various patriarchal societies; like my own for instance. Staunch patriarchs rarely accept changes for they have been rooted in their ancestral cultural mores and dread its disintegration with time. Okonkwo’s father died when he was young burdened with debt and mortification. Hence, he feared his own collapse and saw accomplishment and power as a sign of acceptance and dignity amongst the members of the clan. Okonkwo was the uncrowned prince of masculinity. As a patriarch he believed the molding of a true man was carved through use of brutal force and authoritarian services. Any vulnerability was a sign of effeminate demeanor and a shame to his manhood. It has always been a classic case of "my way or the highway" when dealing with the head of a certain family structure. The father or the grandfather whoever occupied the supreme position tends to be engulfed in his own obsessive hubris failing to show necessary restraint; ripping away the family piece by piece. It was no surprise when Okonkwo’s son Nwoye despised his father’s preaching and turned to Christianity for a serene existence. I have no sympathies for Okonkwo’s tragic ending for I strongly felt he deserved every bit of the death that came his way. I know I got a bit carried away with this character, but I saw shades of his personality that hit closer to home. A man who cannot change with time is a friendless traveler. When my anger receded, after a while, questions arise as to whether it is easy for a human being who is deeply embedded in a certain way of life to accept drastic change at the risk of losing a critical part of his existence- his cultural identification? When I compare myself with past generations I wonder if my children will ever remember or follow the sediments of my ancestral culture that has barely found a way in my lifestyle. Colonization brings westernization; the advent of the “white” man on exotic foreign shores brings a modernists wave that practically wipes out the primary ethnicities of the land. Democratic amendments bring liberation banishing orthodoxy and atrocious superstitions. It is a definite wondrous prospect, I must say; nevertheless, it gradually washes away the crucial hierarchical cultural institutions terming it as a blot of vernacularism. I embraced westernization as a child through my schooling years, but my father still finds some of the libertine values humbug. It is then, I reflect on Okonkwo and his failure to accept the presence of British missionaries in his village and his belief in the calamitous penalties by the spread of Christianity. Achebe brings a complex mix of digression and misfortune that revolves around one man, his fate and the collapse within his tribal ethnicity. The anthropological image of the Igbo people and their civilization in the late 19th century, exhibits a democratic opulence of the Igbo people ingrained in tribal origins of African literature. Themes of religious convictions in the mysterious aura of the village Oracle, the hypocrisy and miscarriage in the justice structure during colonization and the commanding anxiety of free will are well meshed in depicting the Igbo world. Tribes and cultures either disintegrating or amalgamating into Western civilization bring an end to a strong ethnic era that once thrived and later waits patiently for its revival through generations. Languages and customs disappear with colonization making the world a uniformed global dais with treasures of ancient cultures hidden amongst its dark interiors. One man’s treasure is another man’s trash; tribal practices although termed as an archaic form of savagery, were valued institutions of traditions and justice to a few. Although, Chinua Achebe’s book tries to echo the related attitude, somehow it seems depressing and vacant at the closing stages of the book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    booklady

    "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” is from Yeats's poem "The Second Coming". Fifty years after Chinua Achebe wrote this deceptively simple Nigerian tragedy, Things Fall Apart has never been out of print. It's hailed as Africa's best known work of literature and I can easily see why. At the heart of the story is a strong man, Okonkwo, with an overwhelming need to prove himself--to himself and his tribe; he must overcome the bad reputation of his drunkard ne'er-do-well father. Although Oko "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” is from Yeats's poem "The Second Coming". Fifty years after Chinua Achebe wrote this deceptively simple Nigerian tragedy, Things Fall Apart has never been out of print. It's hailed as Africa's best known work of literature and I can easily see why. At the heart of the story is a strong man, Okonkwo, with an overwhelming need to prove himself--to himself and his tribe; he must overcome the bad reputation of his drunkard ne'er-do-well father. Although Okonkwo can easily defeat enemies he can wrestle, chop or kill; his stubborn pride and anger collide with and fail to overcome those aspects of life which he cannot so readily tackle: providence, family and tribal laws. So much of the appeal of Things -- for me at least -- is watching Okonkwo encounter a traditional village. I was fascinated (and repulsed) by its customs, mores, and overall precarious harmony. The appropriateness of the title is in the extreme delicacy of that tribal balance which is rocked to the core by the arrival of the English missionaries. All that was as Okonkwo understood the world to be, changes with the introduction of Christianity and Western civilization. It is both a clash of one individual against his own society and a foreign power, as well as the collision of two diametrically opposed cultures. You don't often find so much carefully-contained conflict in a book of this size. Truly incredible! Chinua Achebe wrote this masterpiece before most of the African nations had declared their independence. Since that time, the Dark Continent has been washed in rivers of blood. One wonders when, and prays for an end to, all the suffering. Such a sacred place and beautiful people; in many ways so like the Garden of Eden. Long live Africa! Thanks to Ginnie for this link from The Economist about A Golden Jubilee of Things Fall Apart. ><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>< 23 November 2008: I'm almost finished and I so want to start writing my review on this incredible book but at the same time I know I need to let it 'gel'. I want to write about Things Fall Apart because it awakens and stirs up so many thoughts and feelings inside; it reminds me of every other book I've ever read about Africa and yet it is like none of them. Ah well . . . self-control booklady!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Whenever I buy a book for someone as a gift I always include a bookmark, its one of those things I inherited from my parents. As a result of which, whenever I see some nice or quirky or unusual bookmarks I buy them. A few years ago I bought about ten long metal markers on which were engraved the 50 books one 'ought to have read'. Looking down the list I saw this one and ticked it off as one I had read, though I didn't remember it very well. Then a few months ago my book-club opted to read it. As Whenever I buy a book for someone as a gift I always include a bookmark, its one of those things I inherited from my parents. As a result of which, whenever I see some nice or quirky or unusual bookmarks I buy them. A few years ago I bought about ten long metal markers on which were engraved the 50 books one 'ought to have read'. Looking down the list I saw this one and ticked it off as one I had read, though I didn't remember it very well. Then a few months ago my book-club opted to read it. As I began to read three things happened. Firstly, I realized I had never read it before, secondly I was blown away by it and thus thirdly I wholeheartedly realize why it is engraved on that bookmark. The story is simply told. A wrestling hero in West Africa rules the roost of his home and village and his reputation keeps him godlike almost in everyone's regard. Then he accidentally kills one of his clan and he must go into exile for a few years. When he returns all has changed and he finds it impossible to regain his previous position. The colonial powers and the 'attached missionaries' have taken up the ruling status and, cut adrift from everything he was and stood for, Okonkwo follows his world's example and 'falls apart'. That is the story but Achebe takes this and creates something unimaginably beautiful. His hero is a bully, vicious, impatient and arrogant. He is cruel and heartless and totally unattractive and yet, and yet, Achebe succeeds in making you care for him and feel the agony of his confusion as the world he knew and dominated is swept aside by a crass disregard for the history and traditions by the 'enlightened colonial rulers'. Three short quotations to intimate the gift of Achebe. 'anxiety mounted in every heart that heaved on a bamboo bed that night' Say that out loud and deny that there is an extraordinary rhythm to that sentence. It captures beautifully and simply the doom-laden drum beat that Achebe had said was echoing through the jungle throughout that scene. In the hand of a true poet nothing need be explicit. 'He felt a relief within as the hymn poured into his parched soul. The words were like the drops of frozen rain melting on the dry plate of the panting earth. Nwoye's callow mind was greatly puzzled. Here Achebe, again understated, bringing home the idea of the people moulded and created from the land. That close link with the land which those who were coming to 'help them' were supremely failing to understand. Alien rites and experiences unexplained but imposed would wreak havoc unless couched in the terms of the world in which their hearer lived and grew. And finally 'Umuofia was like a startled animal with ears erect, sniffing the silent, ominous air and not knowing which was to run.' I just found the image itself amazing. The freedom Achebe uses here is one which many writers might shy from now in fear of being misinterpreted or misunderstood. Achebe's authorial voice simply impressed me here. He is writing out of the lived experience of his characters and we choose to sit on the sidelines and observe or enter in and begin to sense a little of their pain. As a middle class brit in 21st Century Uk I can never feel the agony or devastation of Okonkwo, Chinua Achebe manages to make me somewhat ashamed that that is the case and for that I acknowledge his amazing skill and thank him for it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mercutio

    This is my new favorite book because within five minutes, a person's reaction will tell me how defensive they are about being considered racist, whether or not they've been accused that minute. This is an excellent way to identify racists, for fun and profit. Seriously, covering it in class has been like, "Fielding Racists 101" and "How to Sound Over-Defensive When Talking About How African People Are Actually More Violent, No Totally" class. One guy actually said there was literally no parallel or This is my new favorite book because within five minutes, a person's reaction will tell me how defensive they are about being considered racist, whether or not they've been accused that minute. This is an excellent way to identify racists, for fun and profit. Seriously, covering it in class has been like, "Fielding Racists 101" and "How to Sound Over-Defensive When Talking About How African People Are Actually More Violent, No Totally" class. One guy actually said there was literally no parallel or point of reference for Okonkwe's behavior in America and that it was literally impossible to understand how he could be so brutal. Which is funny, just really hilarious. Since he basically claimed that America does not have: 1.) Domestic Abuse 2.) Farms This is wonderful news. I will inform all farmers and domestic abuse victims forthwith; their troubles are over. Which is interesting, because the story being set in Africa IMMEDIATELY DIVORCED a person from understanding ANYTHING THAT HAPPENED AT ALL, despite the similarities to what we may experience in America. Hm. Anycase, this book made me think and gave me a much needed different camera angle on literature (especially the Colonially linked kind) and that's all I really asked of it. I guess you could consider me a happy customer, in that respect. P.S. EVERYONE GETS 10 JACKASS POINTS FOR COMPLAINING ABOUT AFRICAN NAMES IN A BOOK INTENDED FOR AFRICAN PEOPLE TO READ HAHAHAHAHAHA

  26. 4 out of 5

    Khashayar Mohammadi

    I gotta admit I did not enjoy the book at first, but a few chapters in it got me. I'm still on the fence with Achebe, since the few books I have read by him have left me with bittersweet memories of Objective innocence towards atrocities committed in the name of colonialism. I feel narrative objectivity was a crucial aspect of Achebe's storytelling, but I can't say I enjoy how he writes. I loved his thorough yet simplistic introduction to Ibo culture and language, as well as the juxtaposition of I gotta admit I did not enjoy the book at first, but a few chapters in it got me. I'm still on the fence with Achebe, since the few books I have read by him have left me with bittersweet memories of Objective innocence towards atrocities committed in the name of colonialism. I feel narrative objectivity was a crucial aspect of Achebe's storytelling, but I can't say I enjoy how he writes. I loved his thorough yet simplistic introduction to Ibo culture and language, as well as the juxtaposition of christian faith over native beliefs. Powerful ending and colorful characters; overall, a good literary experience. Looking forward to more Nigerian Literature.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Trudie

    I had an illustrated Folio edition of this book on my shelves for almost a decade and I kept skipping over it to reach for other books. Finally, a nudge from a Read Harder challenge prompt got me to pick it up and I am glad as I thought it was amazing. This book fits rather well into my reading year after recently finishing Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah both dealing with modern day Nigeria or the Nigerian diaspor I had an illustrated Folio edition of this book on my shelves for almost a decade and I kept skipping over it to reach for other books. Finally, a nudge from a Read Harder challenge prompt got me to pick it up and I am glad as I thought it was amazing. This book fits rather well into my reading year after recently finishing Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah both dealing with modern day Nigeria or the Nigerian diaspora. It was a nice counterpoint to read about village life pre-colonisation and from the "father of modern African writing". Far from being the dry classic that I feared, I discovered why this is so rightly revered. What surprised me about this novel was that even though a lot of the literary criticism suggests this is a book predominantly about the friction between native beliefs and western colonisation, that aspect really only comes to the forefront in the last handful of pages. The first two parts of the book set up the rhythms of village life, the gods, birth, death, marriage, yam farming (there is ALOT of yams in this) as well as introducing the redoubtable Okonkwo and his family. The story doesn't travel fast and certainly not in a straight line, it often feels like we circle around a plot point but never really get there. I didn't mind this slow stroll of storytelling. I think it made the impact of what occurs in the final third that much more powerful. So many scenes from this stand out for me - the locusts, the Egwugwu with smoke pouring from their heads and the various sounds of gongs and cries from the spirit world. This was a very auditory kind of book. By the time I shut the book on the final page I realised how much Achebe had actually packed into a slim novel and how apt the title was. Brilliant.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kavita

    There has been rarely a fictional work of such complexity when the focal point is colonisation. Most books are either firmly convinced that the traditional ways were the best, or they firmly believe that colonisation was the best thing ever to happen, depending on the author's perspective. But Achebe goes far deeper than that, bringing out the nuances of the good and bad aspects of both sides. This is a brilliant book, written in the oral tradition of African stories and legends. I generally don' There has been rarely a fictional work of such complexity when the focal point is colonisation. Most books are either firmly convinced that the traditional ways were the best, or they firmly believe that colonisation was the best thing ever to happen, depending on the author's perspective. But Achebe goes far deeper than that, bringing out the nuances of the good and bad aspects of both sides. This is a brilliant book, written in the oral tradition of African stories and legends. I generally don't like that kind of narrative, but it really suits this book. Achebe is a great writer and I really enjoyed the very subtle sarcasm against malpractices by both African and European cultures. I also love the fact that he focused so strongly on the rampant sexism. Okonkwo is the protagonist. He is arrogant, warmongering, sexist, and in short, a brute. He is not a sympathetic character. He considers no one else's dignity except his own. In the end, when colonisation happened, he too lost his dignity and his life. His contempt for women is deep-rooted and one of the questions I asked myself was whether if he had been "more like a woman", he might not have been a better person overall and avoided his ultimate fate. One of the finest things about Things Fall Apart is how immersed I got into the book. It was a wonderful story and it was also beautifully detailed in all aspects of Igbo life. Every single page told a story, and deepened my understanding of this culture. Like with everything else, it had the bad and the good. The question remains, and will never be answered: What kind of progress would have been made with women's rights and eliminating superstition without the missionaries forcing a change in the culture? After all, all they did was to substitute one kind of misogyny and superstition with another. As a depiction of colonisation, this is one of the best books I have read. The gradual changes to society, the flocking of the disenfranchised people to the church, and the government support offered to the church members against the tribes all contributed to the ultimate fallout. Before one knew it, things had changed and most people would be hard put to actually pinpoint the time when it happened. As Desmond Tutu so aptly put it: When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land. That is what happened in this story too.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Yousra Ouail

    we were asked to read this novel in RPW (Research Paper Writing)module. I had no idea what it was about. However, when I read it I thanked my teacher for her choice and even made it the topic of my RP. This novel is about human beings in the first place. It opens our eyes to how Africans were marginalized in the white man's literature. unlike what we read in The Coral Island and Heart of Darkness and many others, how locals are described as savages and flesh eaters, Achebe's masterpiece lets us i we were asked to read this novel in RPW (Research Paper Writing)module. I had no idea what it was about. However, when I read it I thanked my teacher for her choice and even made it the topic of my RP. This novel is about human beings in the first place. It opens our eyes to how Africans were marginalized in the white man's literature. unlike what we read in The Coral Island and Heart of Darkness and many others, how locals are described as savages and flesh eaters, Achebe's masterpiece lets us inter Umuofia, love and hate Okonkwo and sympathize with Nwoye. feel for the untitled men and grief the decay of Umofia by the arrival of missionaries. regardless the simple style and the mastery of language. One of the most amazing novels one can read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    leynes

    Oh boy, where do I start? I read Things Fall Apart (the entire African Trilogy acutally) this year for Black History Month. So quite a bit of time has passed already and I am unhappy to report that the story hasn’t really left a lasting impression on me. I have forgotten many plot points and had to consult many secondary sources in order to write this review. I definitely want to reread Things Fall Apart when I am older, I think it’s one of those books that, to put it into Calvino’s words, “has Oh boy, where do I start? I read Things Fall Apart (the entire African Trilogy acutally) this year for Black History Month. So quite a bit of time has passed already and I am unhappy to report that the story hasn’t really left a lasting impression on me. I have forgotten many plot points and had to consult many secondary sources in order to write this review. I definitely want to reread Things Fall Apart when I am older, I think it’s one of those books that, to put it into Calvino’s words, “has never exhausted what it has to say”; it is definitely a most important document in the history of African literature, and I think I’ll appreciate it even more later in life. Before Things Fall Apart was released, most of the novels about Africa had been written by European authors, portraying Africans as savages who were in need of Western enlightenment. Achebe, who had studied English literature at university, quickly realised that there was a “gap in his bookshelf” where African literature should have been. Thus far, novels of the caliber of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness were the custom when it came to descriptions of Africa in literature … and we all know what Achebe thought of Conrad and his notion of Africans as “rudimentary souls.” So, I think we can all agree with Achebe, that he and all the other African writers of the time were incredibly brave and needed to finally fill that gap. Things Fall Apart was written in 1958 as the colonial system was falling apart in Africa. Its story chronicles pre-colonial life in the south-eastern part of Nigeria and the arrival of the Europeans during the late nineteenth century. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, one of the first to receive global critical acclaim. It is a staple book in schools throughout Africa and is widely read and studied in English-speaking countries around the world. The novel follows the life of Okonkwo, an Igbo man and local wrestling champion in the fictional Nigerian clan of Umuofia. The work is split into three parts, with the first describing his family, personal history, and the customs and society of the Igbo, and the second and third sections introducing the influence of British colonialism and Christian missionaries on the Igbo community. “Does the white man understand our custom about land?” “How can he when he does not even speak our tongue? But he says that our customs are bad; and our own brothers who have taken up his religion also say that our customs are bad. How do you think we can fight when our own brothers have turned against us? The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.” I have to admit that I found it incredibly hard, at first, to keep track of what was happening in the story. I might be at fault here because I definitely didn’t read it as attentively as I could have, but the reader has to get through a large portion of info dumbs and various introductions of characters in the first few chapters of this novel. It is very palpable that Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart with a Western audience in mind. He explains to us certain festivities and traditions in a very straightforward way. He introduces us to the Ancestral religion and different gods, he explains how a bride price is decided, how certain pieces of clothing are worn and how certain instruments look and are being played. Being from the West, those explanations were definitely needed and came in handy, nonetheless, they interrupted the flow of the story and more often than not pulled me out of it. Having read the remainder of The African Trilogy, I can attest that those info dumbs became less and less as the books move along, and thus made a much more enjoyable overall reading experience for me possible, since most things are somewhat understandable through context. Achebe wrote his novels in English because the written standard Igbo language was created by combining various dialects, creating a stilted written form. In a 1994 interview with The Paris Review, Achebe said, "the novel form seems to go with the English language. There is a problem with the Igbo language. It suffers from a very serious inheritance which it received at the beginning of this century from the Anglican mission. They sent out a missionary by the name of Dennis. Archdeacon Dennis. He was a scholar. He had this notion that the Igbo language—which had very many different dialects—should somehow manufacture a uniform dialect that would be used in writing to avoid all these different dialects. Because the missionaries were powerful, what they wanted to do they did. This became the law. But the standard version cannot sing. There's nothing you can do with it to make it sing. It's heavy. It's wooden. It doesn't go anywhere.” Achebe's choice to write in English has caused controversy. While both African and non-African critics agree that Achebe modelled Things Fall Apart on classic European literature, they disagree about whether his novel upholds a Western model, or, in fact, subverts or confronts it. Personally, I also remain undecided on this issue. Achebe continued to defend his decision: "English is something you spend your lifetime acquiring, so it would be foolish not to use it. Also, in the logic of colonization and decolonization it is actually a very powerful weapon in the fight to regain what was yours.” And I definitely can’t fault him for that logic, I actually quite agree with it. Nonetheless, throughout the book it also becomes clear that Achebe tried to adhere to the Western standard, in all probability to be respected as a serious author, and I can’t fault him for that either. Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. He admits himself that the usage of the opening stanza of William Butler Yeats’s poem “The Second Coming,” from which the title of the novel is taken, as an epigraph to Things Fall Apart, was purely done for show. He says: “Actually, I wouldn’t make too much of that. I was showing off more than anything else. As I told you, I took a general degree, with English as part of it, and you had to show some evidence of that.” Apart from that, Things Fall Apart suffer from the “unlikeable characters”-syndrome. There are simply not many people to root for in this novel. Okonkwo is strong, hard-working, and strives to show no weakness, but he is also obsessed with his masculinity. He sees (and treats) his wives as inferior. As a result, he often beats his wives and children, and is unkind to his neighbours. I was quite prepared for Achebe to show the patriarchal structures of village life, and don’t fault him for showing it how it was, nonetheless, that prevented me from showing to much empathy toward Okonkwo. Unfortunately, the female characters truly take the backseat in this novel and I never really got a sense for their personality and therefore didn’t root form them either. Achebe doesn’t deem them important enough to make the according place for them within this narrative. It seemed as if the very soul of the tribe wept for a great evil that was coming—it’s own death. One thing I absolutely adored about this book, however, was its ending. I know it might come across as quite gimmicky and “in-yo-face” but I think that Achebe achieved what he wanted to show in the most straightforward way. (view spoiler)[At the end, when the local leader of the white government, Gregory Irwin, comes to Okonkwo's house to take him to court, he finds that Okonkwo has hanged himself to avoid being tried in a colonial court. Among his own people, Okonkwo's actions have tarnished his reputation and status, as it is strictly against the teachings of the Igbo to commit suicide. A researcher comments that the story of Okonkwo will make for a good page in his book, or at least a paragraph. (hide spoiler)] This sentence, which concludes the novel, satirizes the entire tradition of Western ethnography and imperialism itself as a cultural project, and it suggests that the ethnographer in question, the District Commissioner, knows very little about his subject and projects a great deal of his European colonialist values onto it. The language of the commissioner’s proposed title reveals how misguided he is: that he thinks of himself as someone who knows a great deal about pacifying the locals is highly ironic, since, in fact, he is a primary source of their distress, not their peace.

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