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Chinua Achebe Nigerian. Born among Ibo (or Igbo) people under British rule. Native language Igbo. Missionary school. College in England. Things Fall Apart 1 st novel. Things Fall Apart : Background Notes. Things Fall Apart. Written 1958. Nigerian independence 1960.

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Things Fall Apart : Background Notes

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Things fall apart background notes

Chinua Achebe

Nigerian. Born among Ibo (or Igbo) people under British rule.

Native language Igbo.

Missionary school.

College in England.

Things Fall Apart 1st novel.

Things Fall Apart: Background Notes


Things fall apart

Things Fall Apart

  • Written 1958.

  • Nigerian independence 1960.

  • Written in English, but with style of Igbo storyteller.

  • Achebe writing against colonialism, but not idealizing Ibgo culture.


Things fall apart and language

“Proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten.”

Things Fall Apart and Language

  • Written in English, not Igbo. Why?

  • Form is European: a novel. BUT

  • Igbo elements.

  • Storytelling style.

  • Proverbs.

  • Words, names.


Things fall apart1

Things Fall Apart

  • 1807, Britain bans slave trade.

  • 1885, Britain begins some occupation of Nigeria.

  • 1900—1960, British rule of Nigeria.

  • Contact spreads gradually from coast.


Igbo culture

Igbo Culture

  • Social rituals:

    • Sharing cola nuts, alligator peppers.

    • Buying titles.

  • Warfare, wrestling.

  • Wealth (crops—yams—and cowries).


Igbo religion

Igbo Religion

  • Importance of ancestors.

  • Importance of family.

  • Polygamy.

  • Patriarchal.

  • Many gods.


Transition from heroic to modern age

Transition from Heroic to Modern Age

Epic Hero:

  • Larger-than-life

  • Great adventures

  • Superhuman strength or abilities

  • Embodies his culture's ideals of a great man


Elements of tragedy

Elements of Tragedy

  • End of one way of life.

  • Tragedy:

    • A noble hero

    • Meets his downfall

    • Tragic flaw.


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