The Chinua Achebe Encyclopedia

By M. Keith Booker | Go to book overview
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. Edited by Edith Ihekweazu, this large collection (published in 1996) represents papers presented at a symposium held in February 1990 at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, to honor Achebe on the occasion of his upcoming sixtieth birthday. The collection includes thirty-nine different essays from a variety of international contributors, though it is dominated by a solid core of Nigerian scholars. Most are simply scholarly essays on various aspects of Achebe's work, though the collection begins with a section, entitled “Tributes, that is less scholarly and more in the way of celebrations of Achebe's achievements. Contributors in this section include Michael Thelwell and Emmanuel Obiechina. Thelwell's opening sentence perhaps best sums up the theme of the entire book: “I know of no contemporary writer, in any language and out of any culture, whose oeuvre—in sustained excellence of craft; meaningful literary innovation; clarity of vision and purpose; cultural importance and international acceptance; as well as in universal popular affection and respect—approaches that of Chinua Achebe's” (1).

The collection ends with personal reminiscences by John Munonye and Alan Hill, detailing their long and extensive personal associations with Achebe. In between these opening and closing sections is a variety of more conventional scholarly sections on such topics as “History and Worldview, “Social Commitment, “The Image of Women, “Narrative Art, and “Comparative Perspectives.” A separate section of essays devoted to Anthills of the Savannah (which, at the time of the symposium, was still a rather recent work) is also included. These scholarly essays include contributions by such scholars as Emmanuel Ngara, Dan Izevbaye, Phanuel Egejuru, and Bernth Lindfors. Together, they represent an important body of criticism and scholarship on Achebe and his work.

Compare Chinua Achebe: A Celebration, another sixtieth-birthday celebration volume.

M. Keith Booker


a two-stanza, twelve-line poem by A.E. Housman, published in the posthumous More Poems (1936) and again in Collected Poems (1939). The latter volume is owned by Obi Okonkwo, who, at the end of chapter 10 of NoLonger at Ease, reads “Easter Hymn, which is “his favorite poem.” The poem's somber tone (moderated somewhat by a hopeful note in the second stanza) accords with Obi's mood when he


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