Things fall apart background notes
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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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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

  • Written 1958.

  • Nigerian independence 1960.

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

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


“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 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

  • Social rituals:

    • Sharing cola nuts, alligator peppers.

    • Buying titles.

  • Warfare, wrestling.

  • Wealth (crops—yams—and cowries).


Igbo Religion

  • Importance of ancestors.

  • Importance of family.

  • Polygamy.

  • Patriarchal.

  • Many gods.


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

  • End of one way of life.

  • Tragedy:

    • A noble hero

    • Meets his downfall

    • Tragic flaw.


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