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Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays Paperback – September 1, 1990

ISBN-13: 978-0385414791 ISBN-10: 038541479X Edition: Anchor Books ed

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Anchor Books ed edition (September 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038541479X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385414791
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #650,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

According to the author, literature is a medium that can impact on social issues and as such can help Africa overcome the negativity learned in its encounter with the West. "Overall, these concise essays deliver a forceful commentary," reported PW .
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Because the Nigerian novelist Achebe usually writes in English, his essays are informed by a sense of encounter between Africa and Europe. In this collection Achebe attacks patronizing Western views of African culture with gusto. Focusing on the role of the writer, he considers literature--written and oral--as a social force. As literary theory, the prophetic, moralizing kind of criticism Achebe favors would need more stringent argument and more careful dissection of opposing views. Beyond that, libraries holding his earlier book, Morning Yet on Creation Day (o.p.), will already have five of the best essays here. Still, the present title has obvious value for African studies collections. Also, since Achebe's novels are frequently assigned in English courses, students might find helpful background here.
- Donald Ray, Mercy Coll. Lib., Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
I read this as part of my required summer reading for my AP English class, and I have only previously encountered Achebe's work in Things Fall Apart. This collection of essays is often thought-provoking, quite debatable, and never dull. In his opening essay on racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness, it will certainly be more interesting if you have read the novel before reading Achebe's comments. Among his other essays, he reflects on the tremendous and underrated value of literature, while also fleshing out details of his Ibo ancestry. The whole of the collection is far greater than the sum of its parts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. Strickenburg on October 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
When my husband first saw me reading this book he said, "Hope and Impediments? What's that, a Jane Austen novel?" Sorry, not even close...

After previously enjoying some of Chinua Achebe's fiction, I decided to try his essays. I'd heard that his essay on Conrad's Heart of Darkness was controversial, and I was intrigued. I found his essays to be very accessible. His tone is often passionate, yet tempered with dry witty humor as well. He openly addresses issues of race and colonialism, but his attitude is not that of a victim. His fiery writing is often an address to his fellow Nigerians to reclaim their dignity and independent spirit.

The two most interesting essays to me in this collection were "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness" and "Colonialist Criticism." As an example of his style, I'll quote a favorite portion from the latter. In the context of European criticism of the African novel, he says, "[D]id not the black people in America, deprived of their own instruments, take the trumpet and the trombone and blow them as they had never been blown before, as indeed they were not designed to be blown? And the result, was it not jazz? Is anyone going to say that this was a loss to the world or that those first Negro slaves who began to play around with discarded instruments of their masters should have played waltzes and foxtrots? No! Let every people bring their gifts to the great festival of the world's cultural harvest and mankind will be all the richer for the variety and distinctiveness of the offerings."

If you're not familiar at all with Nigerian history or literature, I would suggest familiarizing yourself with it to some degree before trying this collection of essays.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Jacob on June 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Achebe is best known for his fiction, but his essays offer great insight into his feelings about many social, political and literary issues. I bought this copy on kindle just after Achebe died just for the essay in which he criticizes Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness as being one of the most dangerous books ever written. Achebe was an important voice for the third world.
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By dp on October 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tough to get into, but the collection of essays provide an interesting perspective on a writer's imagination and a society's need for fiction.
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