Understanding Things Fall Apart: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding Things Fall Apart: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding Things Fall Apart: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding Things Fall Apart: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Synopsis

Things Fall Apart is the most widely read and influential African novel. Published in 1958, it has sold more than nine million copies and been translated into fifty-two languages. African culture is not familiar to most American readers however, and this casebook provides a wealth of commentary and original materials that place the novel in its historical, social, and cultural contexts. Ogbaa, an Igbo scholar, has selected a wide variety of historical and firsthand accounts of the Igbo historical and cultural heritage. These accounts illuminate the historical context and issues relating to the colonization of Africa by European powers, in particular Britain's colonization of Nigeria. Fascinating materials bring to light the novel's cultural context--folkways, language and narrative customs, and traditional Igbo religion. Among the documents included are a slave narrative, interviews, journal and magazine articles, and historical essays. Each chapter is followed by questions for class discussion and ideas for student paper topics. A selection of maps and photos of Igbo culture complement the text.

Excerpt

Published in 1958 to great critical acclaim at the height of African political independence movements, Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart is a watershed novel in which artistic achievement and cultural reeducation form a perfect balance. When it appeared in world markets and academic institutions, the novel was immediately recognized as a blueprint for budding novelists by African writers and critics, as a literary classic by Canadian and American critics, and (not unexpectedly) as a novel of protest by British critics and press. In spite of these divergent critical evaluations of the novel, the common point of agreement is that, in developing the character of his hero Okonkwo Unoka, Achebe combined the techniques of literary modernism, the socio-literary philosophy of naturalism, and Igbo story-telling devices to recapitulate the history and consequences of the late nineteenth-century African encounter with European colonialism, which marked the end of the sovereignty of African nation-states.

Having sold to date over 8 million copies in fifty languages worldwide, Things Fall Apart is unquestionably the most widely read, best-selling, and influential book in modern African literature. According to Bernth Lindfors, "Indeed, it has outsold all the rest of the three hundred titles in Heinemann's African Writers Series combined. One reason this novel became such a runaway . . .

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