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Things Fall Apart Informational Essay

  • Date Submitted: 12/31/2012 09:52 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 45.3 
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The Critical Reception of Things Fall Apart
Amy Sickels Before Things Fall Apart was published, most novels about Africa had been written by Europeans, and they largely portrayed Africans as savages who needed to be enlightened by Europeans. For example, Joseph Conrad’s classic tale Heart of Darkness (1899), one of the most celebrated novels of the early twentieth century, presents Africa as a wild, “dark,” and uncivilized continent. In Mister Johnson (1939), which in 1952 Time called “the best novel ever written about Africa” (“Cheerful” para. 15), Irishman Joyce Cary’s protagonist is a semieducated, childish African who, on the whole, reinforces colonialist stereotypes about Africans. In 1958, however, Chinua Achebe broke apart this dominant model with Things Fall Apart, a novel that portrays Igbo society with specificity and sympathy and examines the effects of European colonialism from an African perspective. No one could have predicted that this novel, written by an unknown Nigerian, would one day sell nearly 11 million copies. Today Things Fall Apart is one of the most widely read books in Africa; it is typically assigned in schools and universities, and most critics consider it to be black Africa’s most important novel to date. Further, the novel has been translated into more than fifty languages and shows up frequently on syllabi for literature, world history, and African studies courses across the globe. The first African novel to receive such powerful international critical acclaim, Things Fall Apart is considered by many to be the archetypal modern African novel. Though Achebe went on to write numerous novels, short stories, poems, and essays, all of which have received critical attention, he is still best known as the author of Things Fall Apart. Of all of his works, it is the most widely read, and in the fifty years since its publication, the novel has generated a breadth of critical responses. Things Fall Apart has endured years of close examination...

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