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Things Fall Apart [School & Library Binding]

Chinua Achebe
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (285 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 1994 0808592777 978-0808592778
Things Fall Apart tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first, a powerful fable of the immemorial conflict between the individual and society, traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world. The second, as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo's world with the arrival of aggressive European missionaries. These perfectly harmonized twin dramas are informed by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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From Amazon

One of Chinua Achebe's many achievements in his acclaimed first novel, Things Fall Apart, is his relentlessly unsentimental rendering of Nigerian tribal life before and after the coming of colonialism. First published in 1958, just two years before Nigeria declared independence from Great Britain, the book eschews the obvious temptation of depicting pre-colonial life as a kind of Eden. Instead, Achebe sketches a world in which violence, war, and suffering exist, but are balanced by a strong sense of tradition, ritual, and social coherence. His Ibo protagonist, Okonkwo, is a self-made man. The son of a charming ne'er-do-well, he has worked all his life to overcome his father's weakness and has arrived, finally, at great prosperity and even greater reputation among his fellows in the village of Umuofia. Okonkwo is a champion wrestler, a prosperous farmer, husband to three wives and father to several children. He is also a man who exhibits flaws well-known in Greek tragedy:
Okonkwo ruled his household with a heavy hand. His wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper, and so did his little children. Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness. It was deeper and more intimate than the fear of evil and capricious gods and of magic, the fear of the forest, and of the forces of nature, malevolent, red in tooth and claw. Okonkwo's fear was greater than these. It was not external but lay deep within himself. It was the fear of himself, lest he should be found to resemble his father.
And yet Achebe manages to make this cruel man deeply sympathetic. He is fond of his eldest daughter, and also of Ikemefuna, a young boy sent from another village as compensation for the wrongful death of a young woman from Umuofia. He even begins to feel pride in his eldest son, in whom he has too often seen his own father. Unfortunately, a series of tragic events tests the mettle of this strong man, and it is his fear of weakness that ultimately undoes him.

Achebe does not introduce the theme of colonialism until the last 50 pages or so. By then, Okonkwo has lost everything and been driven into exile. And yet, within the traditions of his culture, he still has hope of redemption. The arrival of missionaries in Umuofia, however, followed by representatives of the colonial government, completely disrupts Ibo culture, and in the chasm between old ways and new, Okonkwo is lost forever. Deceptively simple in its prose, Things Fall Apart packs a powerful punch as Achebe holds up the ruin of one proud man to stand for the destruction of an entire culture. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

Peter Frances James offers a superb narration of Nigerian novelist Achebe's deceptively simple 1959 masterpiece. In direct, almost fable-like prose, it depicts the rise and fall of Okonkwo, a Nigerian whose sense of manliness is more akin to that of his warrior ancestors than to that of his fellow clansmen who have converted to Christianity and are appeasing the British administrators who infiltrate their village. The tough, proud, hardworking Okonkwo is at once a quintessential old-order Nigerian and a universal character in whom sons of all races have identified the figure of their father. Achebe creates a many-sided picture of village life and a sympathetic hero. A good recording of this novel has been long overdue, and the unhurried grace and quiet dignity of James's narration make it essential for every collection.?Peter Josyph, New York
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cultural Awakening Dec 20 2005
Okonkwo epitomized a die-hard African traditionalist with a firm conviction in the destiny of his people, yet a man who failed to accept the inevitable changes in his world. Things fall apart exposes us to the culture of the Ibo people of Nigeria and brings out the characters to the understandable to the reader. In our own little ways, we are like Okonkwo, caught in a world where we have little influence. The lesson is that No matter how powerful we are, we should not impose our wills on others, especially a will that reflects our egos and not the interest of humanity. Clash of cultures is what this book tells us about. Just as in THE USURPER AND OTHER STORIES, OLD MAN AND THE MEDAL,TRIPLE AGENT DOUBLE CROSS,NO LONGER AT EASE,one gets a better idea of what Africans and other native peoples went through after being left with no choice but to accept the values and laws of the foreign powers that came into their lives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic story Feb. 22 2006
This was one of the first books in African literature that I read and I was not disappointed. It is amazing. The larger than life character of Okonkwo is reduced to disillusioned man because he could not adapt to the changing times. The big lesson is that we should never attempt to have control of everything beyond ourselves.DISGRACE, DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE are fine and hilarious books to read.
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By vanessa
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a great read. It gives the reader a insightful perspective of the African culture and the journey of the African people. Once i started reading it i couldn't stop.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Literature for Less June 29 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read this book in school this year and decided to purchase a copy for myself. The kindle edition offered the exact same quality of Achebe's writing at a fraction of the bookseller's price.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible book April 18 2014
By mark
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Never have I read a book that provided so much insight into life on the Niger Delta at the time of colonial arrivals.

Truly remarkable--mind blowing in fact.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly written classic Oct. 7 2013
By Arin
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A great read. Takes the reader off of the space and troubles of the western world and shows how life is in a culture and environment totally unknown. The writing aside, I really like the quality of this paperback and advise anyone to have this in their collection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish there were more like this Sept. 25 2010
By Bryden
An excellently written novel that shows a way of life that I otherwise would have been very ignorant of. I hope to read more like this in the future. I couldn't put it down and read it in 3 sittings. Achebe is a genius at giving the tribal perspective yet somehow delicately showing it's flaws, while at the same time showing the European missionaries in a similar light. This balance in perspective was, I think, perfect.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heinemann edition doesn't add much to the novel April 15 2004
By A Customer
While the story of Okonkwo is a powerful one, and reading "Things Fall Apart" certainly enlarged my perspective, Achebe's writing style is poor indeed. He must have assumed an audience of dumb white people who needed to have things explained to them to such an extent that they needed to be hit over the head with it. Achebe writes in the opening lines of the novel that "proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten." It's too bad he didn't write more in this manner for the extent of the novel. As a result, we are subjected to such wasted sentences as, "Unoka was a failure" and "Okonkwo was choked with hate." Obviously, Achebe never learned the adage, "Show, don't tell." The only reason he can get away with this style of writing, I imagine, is that there is such a dearth of African literature to begin with. He pales miserably in comparison with the writer whom he loathes, Joseph Conrad.
This Heinemann edition adds little to the text. The so-called glossary explains to you that a harmattan is "a cold, dry wind that blows from the North," even though the text reads that a "cold and dry harmattan wind was blowing down from the north." Gee, that's a helpful gloss, not to mention the poor editing that capitalizes the N in the glossary but not in the text. Much more valuable than useless definitions such as these would have been a guide to pronunciation and the meanings of the names, such as those provided in Austin Shelton's Modern Language Quarterly essay, "The 'Palm-Oil' of Language: Proverbs in Chinua Achebe's Novels."
The Suggestions for Further Reading includes only one reference to criticism, C. L. Innes' and Bernth Lindors' "Critical Perspectives on Chinua Achebe.
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