Things Fall Apart
Title: Things Fall Apart
Author: Chinua Achebe
Publication Date: 1958
Things Fall Apart Literary Guide
Published in 1958, Things Fall Apart was the debut novel of acclaimed Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. Widely regarded as the archetype of the modern African novel in the English language, it is the most popular choice of African literature in the world today.
Achebe received considerable criticism from literary critics for choosing the English language and the classical European style of literature while writing this novel. In numerous interviews, the author stated that he considered English as a global language, where one spends an entire lifetime learning the language. Hence, he failed to understand why he couldn’t write in English. He also stated that using his native Igbo language for his novel served no purpose as Igbo is a collection of several dialects and does not flow like English.
As a seminal work of colonial fiction, written in English by a native author, Things Fall Apart helped shape the renaissance of African literature. Achebe narrates the story of the wrestler Okonkwo in precolonial Africa—of his life, family, and society—which begins to come apart with the invasion of European powers on African soil and the advent of missionary Christianity. The story of Okonkwo is the story of Africa—Achebe wants his readers to see the life of a nation through the life of a man. Conquered by missionaries and colonial powers, Okonkwo’s world and life change completely in a different direction—one that the author describes in the title itself. As things fall apart for Okonkwo, it falls apart for Nigeria too.
The novel is a reproach of colonial powers and the devastating impact they have had on indigenous cultures, traditions, and people around the world. Africa was heavily colonized by white supremacist nations who sent fleets of ships to the continent in a bid to colonize and rule. Centuries of such imperialism and consequent slavery left most of the continent poor, undeveloped, and far behind in the global race for progress. Things Fall Apart takes this hunger for power and reveals its ugliness through the prism of a single man’s life. The poignancy of the novel stems from the deeply intimate life and character delineation that the author pens down for his readers.
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