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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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11,629240232 (3.75)649
Member:HelenGress
Title:Things Fall Apart
Authors:Chinua Achebe
Info:Anchor (1994), Paperback, 209 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Nigerian Lit, colonialism, change

Work details

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (1958)

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» See also 649 mentions

English (231)  Swedish (3)  Spanish (2)  German (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (239)
Showing 1-5 of 231 (next | show all)
I'm really having trouble deciding if this book was a 3 or 4 star book (once again, wishing Goodreads had something in the middle).

While the story took a little getting into, once I was familiar with the characters, and becoming increasingly familiar with the customs of their village, I became attached to them.

This is a book about native cultures being dominated and overrun by other (Anglo/Christian) cultures. While I can't say that everything in their native culture was good--beating of women and children, lack of any rights for women or children--knowing the history of the Christian church...I can't say if the villagers are any better off.

I picked up this book soley because my students have to read it for 10th grade, and I was interested in what they might be doing in 10th grade. After reading it, I have to say that I think it will make an excellent addition to their personal reading logs. It is not challenging to read, but extremely worth it. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
I'm really having trouble deciding if this book was a 3 or 4 star book (once again, wishing Goodreads had something in the middle).

While the story took a little getting into, once I was familiar with the characters, and becoming increasingly familiar with the customs of their village, I became attached to them.

This is a book about native cultures being dominated and overrun by other (Anglo/Christian) cultures. While I can't say that everything in their native culture was good--beating of women and children, lack of any rights for women or children--knowing the history of the Christian church...I can't say if the villagers are any better off.

I picked up this book soley because my students have to read it for 10th grade, and I was interested in what they might be doing in 10th grade. After reading it, I have to say that I think it will make an excellent addition to their personal reading logs. It is not challenging to read, but extremely worth it. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Fierce short novel about an African tribesman whose society is washed away by European imperialism. Okonkwo is a tribesman who is not always entirely happy with, or treated well by, the traditional society he lives in, but he finds his peace within it and always can overcome what it throws at him. When European missionaries and imperial government combine to wash that society away, however, he struggles to cope. I thought the first section was a little long (even in a short novel), but the latter part was superb - a really excellent book about change and history, and when an individual cannot reconcile himself to a society he no longer understands. ( )
1 vote roblong | May 14, 2014 |
Well, I knew an ending like that was coming, but OUCH. Dang, I guess I wasn't prepared for it to be that abrupt! Still, it wasn't the wrong ending.

I really liked this book. I wasn't sure what to expect, honestly, so I went in with an open mind. I found myself completely engaged in Okonkwo's world--enveloped in the daily life of the Ibo people and fascinated by their customs, but not in a "noble savage," flat, kind of way. Achebe's writing puts you fully in the heart of the village, as a member, and I especially felt a kinship with Ekwefi. I'd have loved the book even more if it'd been written all about her. But I suppose that would have made the ending even harder.

Well written, concise, and engaging. Four stars. ( )
  fefferbooks | May 12, 2014 |
I really liked this story. Achebe's choice of writing in English but yet to reflect the cadences of Igbo speech, gives Things Fall Apart a folkloric/storyteller feel.

Set in pre-colonial Nigeria (ca. 1890s), the first 100+ pages are about Okonkwo and his clan. It's a kind of slice of African tribal village life through the seasons. There are stories about gods, illustrations of custom and clan; it's a telling of the rhythms of life.

Okonkwo is a prideful man, determined not to be like his lazy father who died owing many debts. But in his pride, he willfully kills a clan member and is exiled to the land of his mother for seven years.

In those seven years, things in Okonkwo's home village have changed. The white man has arrived and brought his religion and need for bureaucracy to Umuofia. As can be expected, cultures clash and, in the end, Okonkwo must decide whether he can accept these changes.

Achebe wrote this book in response to the many books written about Africans as primitive. In Things Fall Apart, he writes of the complexities of Igbo society and culture, including the not so nice things. He also does not make all the white men the stereotypical bossy colonialist.

By writing in English, but using the rhythm of Igbo language Achebe's book compels readers to understand that Africans are indeed not primitive. At some point, I'll be reading other books by Chinua Achebe. ( )
  AuntieClio | May 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 231 (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 center 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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