Things Fall Apart Paperback – Jan 1 2006
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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 an alternate 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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Also recommended: The Usurper and Other Stories, Mission to kala, The Old man and the Medal.
Most recent customer reviews
A seminal work of African fiction though it is, this is also just a really good story that makes an honest attempt at depicting the mindset and values of the Igbo before their... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Christopher
Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart, is a representation of African history through the eyes of an African. The novel is divided into two sections. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
One of the most delightful books I've read in a while. A must read!Published 10 months ago by Tatjana Stoiljkovic
Very interesting story :) I like the different aspect of african culture depicted in this book. Onkonkwo was surely a man of honour and our beloved continent would have known a... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Edi
Read this for an English class and found it quite enjoyable and, at times, profound. The tragically flawed protagonist and diverse array of cultures makes it somewhat hard to... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Gabe
This book was recommended to me by a Nigerian friend and I really enjoyed the story, it was a great read and I look forward to reading more of Achebe's novelsPublished 21 months ago by John Galt