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Things Fall Apart [School & Library Binding]

Chinua Achebe
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (289 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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Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cultural Awakening Dec 20 2005
Format:Paperback
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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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
Format:Paperback
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 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling Read Dec 1 2007
Format:Hardcover
Native of Nigeria, Africa, Chinua Achebe wrote his own masterpiece fictional novel entitled "Things Fall Apart," which took place in his own country during the 19th century. Achebe has used his own background of an African village to create an interesting story that gives unique perspective of the African life and culture. The book is broken into three parts which describe the main character, Okonkwo, and the lifestyle in his village, the arrival of the missionaries and their actions toward the villagers, and the last year of Okonkwo's life.

The first part of "Things Fall Apart" expresses the lifestyle of the African culture in the village of Umuofia where the main character, Okonkwo, had lived. This first part consists of thirteen chapters that reveal the life in Umuofia, the wives and children of Okonkwo, the life and death of Ikemefuna, and the beginning of Okonkwo's exile. The second part of this book focuses on the life of the exile in Mbanta, the village of Okonkwo's mother. It consists of six chapters which reveal Okonkwo and his family living with his mother's kinsmen in Mbanta, the visits from Obierika, the arrival of the missionaries, the conversion of Okonkwo's son, Nwoye, and the last year of Okonkwo's exile. The final part of the novel expresses the actions of the missionaries, the return of Okonkwo to Umuofia, and the death of Okonkwo. It consists of six chapters that reveal Okonkwo's attempts to urge the villagers to fight against the missionaries after his return, Mr. James' attempt to change the belief of the villagers, and a certain death of the villager.

There is great deal of symbolism and meanings being expressed from this unique novel, and it also expresses a fascinating perspective about African life and the impact of cultural imperialism in "Things Fall Apart."

The novel is quite enjoyable to read and gives one a food for thought.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why "Things Fall Apart" proves a point Feb. 24 2000
Format:Paperback
About a month ago I was assigned to read a book from a suggested reading list in my Lit. & Comp. course. Last Thursday I decided I should probably start looking for a book to read. Since "Things Fall Apart" was readily available, free, and short I decided to go for it. Starting out I thought it was pretty drab and boring. Talking about customs and rituals in some African tribe. "Who cares?" I thought. Slowly as I got deeper into the novel I was beginning to realize something. Achebe put all the tribal information in the beginning to prove something. He proved that we as WASPs aren't always right. The fact that we went into a foriegn country and automatically decided that what we knew was right and everything else is wrong emits the strongest sense of ego possible. Achebe tries to prove that Europeans destroyed much of this planets culture with Onkonkwo and his struggle with life. Okonkwo tried and tried to become the best by achieving all four of his lands titles only to be squashed in the end by a bunch of hypocritical Christians. Americans view themselves as knowing what's right for everyone. None of them see the other point of view. A person knows what's right for them; so let them make their own decision
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cultural Awakening Jan. 26 2005
Format:Paperback
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 like in The Usurper and Other Stories.
Also recommended: The Usurper and Other Stories, Mission to kala, The Old man and the Medal.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars this book wasn't horrible.
Had to buy this for school. As far as school books go, this book wasn't horrible.
Published 12 days ago by Linda Carter
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional book! Gives you an authentic and insightful view ...
Exceptional book! Gives you an authentic and insightful view on traditional Igbo speaking people of West Africa. An African story, told by African and written by an Africa.
Published 29 days ago by Kadar Alin
5.0 out of 5 stars IT's easy to read and it's also captivating
I had to read this book for my university class but I totally adored it!! IT's easy to read and it's also captivating!!
Published 1 month ago by Joannie Charette
4.0 out of 5 stars very insightful
amazing book. It gives you an astonishing detail on African livelihood during colonial era.
Published 2 months ago by Hooman
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a great read. It gives the reader a insightful...
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.
Published 3 months ago by vanessa
4.0 out of 5 stars Literature for Less
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... Read more
Published 4 months ago by AthenaBolton
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible book
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.
Published 6 months ago by mark
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly written classic
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. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Arin
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Wonderful
I loved this book. Achebe's style of writing reminds me a lot of Maya Angelou's, it's so simple yet very eloquent and moving. Read more
Published on Oct. 12 2009 by A. Regis
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic story
This was one of the first books in African literature that I read and I was not disappointed. It is amazing. Read more
Published on Feb. 22 2006 by Edward Tem
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