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Things Fall Apart [School & Library Binding]

Chinua Achebe
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (286 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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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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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic story Feb. 22 2006
Format:Paperback
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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5.0 out of 5 stars A "classic" that really is April 16 2002
Format:Paperback
A thousand people have said this before me, but THINGS FALL APART is truly a wonderful piece of fiction. From the first pages, you are immersed in a beautiful, strange (to me, anyway), fascinating culture that comes through in every description, in the words that come from the character's mouths, in the conflicts between individuals and the clash of cultures, and especially in Achebe's direct, articulate, sparesely beautiful style.
As other reviewers have noted, it's usually not the best when you're being forced to read it for a class. But look at it this way: most books aren't. If you're in that situation, try to get past the coercion factor and the problem of grades, and read this book for yourself. It's a "classic" -- that's why they're making you read it -- and no one hates "classics" more than I, but THINGS FALL APART is much, much more than a "classic" work of fiction. It is a tragedy, deeply felt, that draws an unerring portrait of human nature and especially human conflict. It is a good story, and one beautifully told. It is an education you owe to yourself. And if that's still not enough: it's short.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Window Into an African Culture March 29 2002
Format:Paperback
The main character of this novel, Okonkwo, is a man who is haunted by the shame of his lazy and cowardly father. Even after earning fame and respect in all of the 9 villages of his homeland, he is still controlled by the fear of becoming weak like his father. This fear often causes him to be cruel to his family or to take strange and thoughtless actions. The story follows Okonkwo as he is faced with a series of troubles: caring for a boy from another village who is doomed by his own father's actions, watching his favorite daughter approaching death, and finally seeing the possibility of the destruction of all his beloved traditions when a group of Christian missionaries comes to the village. This novel introduces you to a culture that is so opposed to American culture that you will be amazed to find yourself appreciating their rituals and superstitions. By the end of the novel, I felt that I understood Okonkwo's way of life so well that I could see the Christian missionaries and their effect on the village from his point of view.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars very insightful
amazing book. It gives you an astonishing detail on African livelihood during colonial era.
Published 3 days 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 1 month 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 1 month 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 4 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 10 months ago by Arin
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish there were more like this
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. Read more
Published on Sept. 25 2010 by Bryden
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 Enthralling Read
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. Read more
Published on Dec 1 2007 by Zadius Sky
3.0 out of 5 stars Heinemann edition doesn't add much to the novel
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. Read more
Published on April 15 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Starts a Little Slow
This book was a required reading for one of my college history classes. It does start a little slow, but once it picks up, it is almost impossible to put down. Read more
Published on Nov. 15 2003 by Amazon Customer
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