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Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
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Things Fall Apart (original 1958; edition 1994)

by Chinua Achebe

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12,052250214 (3.74)702
Member:HelenGress
Title:Things Fall Apart
Authors:Chinua Achebe
Info:Anchor (1994), Paperback, 209 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Nigeria, colonialism, change

Work details

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (1958)

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» See also 702 mentions

English (241)  Swedish (3)  Spanish (2)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (250)
Showing 1-5 of 241 (next | show all)
I have been meaning to read this book for years. I wanted to like it, but just couldn't get into it. I appreciated the portrayal of pre-colonial Africa, but the narrator's voice never really grabbed me. The two other big problems were that the main character isn't likeable, and only a little sympathetic, and the plot is too loose, arguably not a plot at all. I was disappointed. ( )
  Amelia_Smith | May 2, 2015 |
Dissatisfied with Western novels about Africa, Chinua Achebe sought to present Africa as an African. I found the immersion into the tribal culture of his protagonist, Okonkwo, totally absorbing.

Fully the first three-quarters of the book essentially depict the day-to-day events of village life. Through them, Okonkwo enjoys his successes and suffers his tragedies, and through them all proves to be a proud man unyielding in his values.

It's not until the later chapters that the white man appears bringing his customs and religion and conflict is heightened. That opening 3/4 of the book is critical, however, for the reader to know what is at stake in the confrontation.

I found Achebe to be remarkably fair in his depiction of the Westerners. He seems to have no argument with the content of the new religion (Christianity) and principles of government (English law) that are introduced, but rather with the ham-handed--and sometimes violent--manner in which they were imposed. Those of Okonkwo's village themselves show an amazing tolerance for the belief-systems of the newcomers, possessing a pretty libertarian attitude: "We say he is foolish because he does not know our ways, and perhaps he says we are foolish because we do not know his."

But as we know from the history of Africa, things do not end well. For all that the Okonkwo's people had and were, things fall apart.

And after we see it happen in Achebe's telling, his final paragraph becomes an absolute gut-wrencher. ( )
  kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
Interesting book. Thought provoking about how Christian missionaries ruined Africe. Shows European egocentrism. Names were hard to follow. Might want to read again. ( )
  KamGeb | Apr 5, 2015 |
Thank goodness for John Green's youtube video to help me understand why this is such a highly regarded book. ( )
  olongbourn | Mar 1, 2015 |
I had to read this book in english class exactly two years ago, and it proved itself to be an enlightening novel that discusses the details of a typical African tribe, and gives you a look into what the African culture is like. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the culture of Africans, or to those into history. The writing style is very eccentric and unique, which adds appeal to the book but also can turn people away since it is harder to comprehend if you're not used to this syntax or diction. The prime reason I could follow and understand this book, is because I studied this book for school so my class would go over every chapter together. Most opinions I formed while independently reading and thinking, many of my peers also agreed with. The tone the characters use, and the characters personalities themselves-add a level of complexity to this book that not too many others have. I got very into this book because African tribes fascinate me, and the characters and their interactions were captivating. The combination of the story's dynamics, and its exotic nature lure me in. ( )
  katietuv | Jan 23, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 241 (next | show all)

Set in the late 19th century, at the height of the "Scramble" for African territories by the great European powers, Things Fall Apart tells the story of Okonkwo, a proud and highly respected Igbo from Umuofia, somewhere near the Lower Niger. Okonkwo's clan are farmers, their complex society a patriarchal, democratic one. Achebe suggests that village life has not changed substantially in generations.

The first part of a trilogy, Things Fall Apart was one of the first African novels to gain worldwide recognition: half a century on, it remains one of the great novels about the colonial era.
 
[Achebe] describes the many idyllic features of pre-Christian native life with poetry and humor. But his real achievement is his ability to see the strengths and weaknesses of his characters with a true novelist's compassion.
 

» Add other authors (52 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chinua Achebeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bandele, BiyiIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vertaalgroep Administratief Centrum BergeykTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

—W.B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"
Dedication
First words
Okonkwo was well-known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. His fame rested on solid personal achievements. As a young man of eighteen he had brought honour to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat.
Quotations
The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.
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Wikipedia in English (4)

Book description
More than two million copies of Things Fall Apart have been sold in the United States since it was first published here in 1959. Worldwide, there are eight million copies in print in fifty different languages. This is Chinua Achebe's masterpiece and it is often compared to the great Greek tragedies, and currently sells more than one hundred thousand copies a year in the United States.
A simple story of a "strong man" whose life is dominated by fear and anger, Things Fall Apart is written with remarkable economy and subtle irony. Uniquely and richly African, at the same time it reveals Achebe's keen awareness of the human qualities common to men of all times and places.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385474547, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:30 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

[This book is] a simple story of a "strong man" whose life is dominated by fear and anger ... Uniquely ... African, at the same time it reveals [the author's] ... awareness of the human qualities common to men of all times and places.-Back cover.

(summary from another edition)

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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141023384, 0141186887

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