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Things Fall Apart (Everyman's Library) 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 1,624 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0679446231
ISBN-10: 0679446230
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

One of the most widely read novels from Nigeria's most famous novelist. Things Fall Apart is a gripping study of the problem of European colonialism in Africa. The story relates the cultural collision that occurs when Christian English missionaries arrive among the Ibos of Nigeria, bringing along their European ways of life and religion. In the novel, the Nigerian Okonkwo recognizes the cultural imperialism of the white men and tries to show his own people how their own society will fall apart if they exchange their own cultural core for that of the English.

From Library Journal

Peter Frances James offers a superb narration of Nigerian novelist Achebe's deceptively simple 1959 masterpiece. In direct, almost fable-like prose, it depicts the rise and fall of Okonkwo, a Nigerian whose sense of manliness is more akin to that of his warrior ancestors than to that of his fellow clansmen who have converted to Christianity and are appeasing the British administrators who infiltrate their village. The tough, proud, hardworking Okonkwo is at once a quintessential old-order Nigerian and a universal character in whom sons of all races have identified the figure of their father. Achebe creates a many-sided picture of village life and a sympathetic hero. A good recording of this novel has been long overdue, and the unhurried grace and quiet dignity of James's narration make it essential for every collection.?Peter Josyph, New York
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 181 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman's Library; 1 edition (October 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679446230
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679446231
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,624 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Eby on September 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
The first time I read this book, I hated it. Just flat hated it. That was my junior year of high school. Flash forward a few years to college, and it's on the reading list again. "Why, oh why?" I moan. Then I read the thing. And you know what I discover? It's a masterpiece.
Chinua Achebe describes "Things Fall Apart" as a response to Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness", which is, comparatively, a denser, perhaps less accessible read. The parallels are there: the ominous drumbeats Marlow describes as mingling with his heartbeat are here given a source and a context. We, as readers, are invited into the lives of the Ibo clan in Nigeria. We learn their customs, their beliefs, terms from their language. Okonkwo, the main character, is the perfect anti-hero. He is maybe Achebe's ultimate creation: flawed, angry, deeply afraid but outwardly fierce. To have given us a perfect hero would have been to sell the story of these people drastically short. Achebe's great achievement is in rendering them as humans, people we can identify with. So they don't dress like Americans, or share our religious beliefs. Who's to say which method is correct, or if there has to be a correct and incorrect way. Achebe provokes thoughtfulness and important questions. His narrative is easy to read structurally, but the story itself is painful and frustrating. It is worthy of its subject.
"Things Fall Apart" provoked some of the best classroom discussions I've ever experienced. As a reader, it has enriched my life. My thanks to Achebe for his marvelous contribution to literature. This book has a permanent place on my shelves.
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By A Customer on April 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
The first two-thirds of "Things Fall Apart" is an affectionate description of the culture of an Ibo clan told from an insider's viewpoint, focusing on the life of Okonkwo, one of his tribe's most respected leaders. The customs and religion of the Ibo village are described with sympathy and simplicity, creating a sense of nostalgia for a way of life completely exotic to Western sensibilities, but making the reader feel the force and logic of a traditional culture seen from within. This idyllic description is clouded by the reader's awareness of the culture's fragility, a foreboding sense of pity and of looming disaster. Disaster comes, of course, in the shape of white missionaries. In the last part of the story, evangelizing Christians and English colonial administrators establish themselves in the Ibo village, and act to corrode and unravel the traditional life of the Ibo people. An escalating series of misunderstandings and conflicts between the whites and natives lead to the inevitable tragic ending. In the last paragraph of the novel, the perspective shifts suddenly to that of the English colonial adminstrator, and ends with one of the most powerful and affecting last lines of any novel I've read.
This book was thoroughly enjoyable, and I recommend it unreservedly.
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Format: Paperback
The more the reader thinks about Things Fall Apart, the more he becomes aware that the heart of a story is about the struggles of an individual and less about what is a compelling and unsentimental survey of Nigeria's Ibo culture just before the arrival of white settlers.

The story's protagonist is Okonkwo, who at first appears to be a model warrior and self-made man who slowly discovers that the attributes he believed would serve him well as an adult instead breed a fear of failure and profound frustration. He is a complex and heavy-handed head of his household who is at once sympathetic and cruel.

Most of the story is told before the actual appearance of the first white settlers, but their pending arrival hangs over the middle part of the book like a rain cloud. By the time it actually happens in the last 50 or so pages of the book, Okonkwo has been driven into exile, his life a shambles. He has only a slim hope of redemption, and that is shattered by the arrival of the settlers.

Okonkwo's story is a relevant one even at a time when cultural and political imperialism has turned away from Africa toward the Middle East, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. But more important than its relevance is its artistry: it is a deceptively simple epic tale somehow packed into just over 200 pages, and one of the most impressive first novels on record. Don't miss it.
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Format: Paperback
Because it's easy to read but hard to interpret, Achebe's masterwork has become a fixture thoughout secondary and higher education. Unfortunately, its current status as a "classic text" as well as a multicultural icon threatens to make it merely another institutional artifact rather than the genuinely provocative text it is capable of being. Achebe does not gloss over the apparently savage, cruel, sexist practices of the Ibo people before the arrival of the white missionaries. Yet students are quick to overlook these tensions in the narrative, preferring to go for the "platitudes" about imperialism that they know are expected of them in the classroom devoted to assuring "diversity" is in the curriculum. The other "tension" that is often overlooked is one outside the text: respecting the autonomy and identity of an African country by staying out of its affairs vs. intervening to bring an end to mass genocide (Rwanda), starvation (Ethiopia), and enslavement of children (Sudan). Why is it a "moral imperative" for the West to interfere in Kosovo but not in Rwanda? If these tensions are not confronted, the novel is a well-crafted folk tale about a tragic hero, and also another occasion for student apathy. Achebe himself has invited strong moral judgements about his text by applying the same to Conrad's "Heart of Darkness."
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