Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe

by

Karim Chandra

Context
The publication of Things Fall Apart was characterized by denials and uncertainty. The author visited several publishing houses in the United Kingdom but was turned down by many of the publishing houses. In the end, Achebe found favor in Heinemann Publishing House. At the beginning, the Publisher admitted that he was unsure about the audience or the prospects of the book. The central theme that Chinua Achebe pursued in this novel was while supremacy especially with regards to colonial rule in Nigeria. The work has brutally exposed the white culture with specific attention to BRITISH Imperialism. Initially, Heinemann intended to produce only 2000 copies of the book. However, 4 years later, the book had hit 10 million copies and the demand was still rising. Heinemann chose Things Fall Apart as first among its African series. Today, the book exists in more than 50 translations. Chinua Achebe received a wide acclaim for his writing style of Things Fall Apart. The book has been described by several commentators as ‘vivid’ while others termed it as ‘clear’ and ‘meaty’. Most importantly, Achebe’s description of the Igbo culture and practice has been appreciated widely. Not all the readers of the work, however, were impressed by Chinua Achebe’s description of the Missionaries and colonial powers. He critics claim that Achebe failed to appreciate the impact of the foreigners in their land. The critics claimed that Achebe wanted to take his country back to ‘mindlessness’. However, it is notable that Things Fall Apart played an important role in exposing Africa and changing the perception of the world on Africa. The term imperialism refers to a period in which most African countries were placed under the management or control of European powers. During this period, the colonial powers put in place measures to change African culture and replace them with the western culture. When the reign of the colonial powers came to an end in Africa, very many authors produced a lot of pieces of literature to discuss the African experience of imperialism. Things Fall Apart is one of the pieces of Literature that discuss the African experience of imperialism. In this work, Chinua Achebe discusses the impact of British colonialism in Nigeria with specific attention to the Igbo culture. The 1899 Joseph Conrad ‘Heart of Darkness’ continues to stand out as a masterpiece in the discussion of imperialism in Africa. While this piece of work is highly revered in Britain, Chinua Achebe viewed it as piece of work that portrayed Africa in bad light and misrepresented the facts. The fact that Conrad’s work presented natives as primitive and backward was particularly offensive to Achebe. Other literary works that presented Africans in Bad light included John Buchan’s Prester John (1910) and Joy Cary’s Mister Johnson (1939). In Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe seeks to present imperialism in the eye of an African. Things Fall Apart was integral in creative a different perspective of imperialism in Africa.
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