What do you think?
Rate this book
209 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1958
The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.Things Fall Apart, published in 1958, has the reputation of being the first great African novel. Set in the late 1800s, the story revolves around Okonkwo, a prominent farmer and community leader who has worked hard since he was forced to fend for himself at an early age after his deadbeat father died young. But Okonkwo worries that the next generation does not respect tradition. Worse, British Missionaries have arrived, threatening to destroy village life as they know it.
The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.
If you don't like my story, write your own.
“Does the white man understand our custom about land?” “How can he when he does not even speak our tongue? But he says that our customs are bad; and our own brothers who have taken up his religion also say that our customs are bad. How do you think we can fight when our own brothers have turned against us? The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”I have to admit that I found it incredibly hard, at first, to keep track of what was happening in the story. I might be at fault here because I definitely didn’t read it as attentively as I could have, but the reader has to get through a large portion of info dumbs and various introductions of characters in the first few chapters of this novel. It is very palpable that Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart with a Western audience in mind. He explains to us certain festivities and traditions in a very straightforward way. He introduces us to the Ancestral religion and different gods, he explains how a bride price is decided, how certain pieces of clothing are worn and how certain instruments look and are being played. Being from the West, those explanations were definitely needed and came in handy, nonetheless, they interrupted the flow of the story and more often than not pulled me out of it. Having read the remainder of The African Trilogy, I can attest that those info dumbs became less and less as the books move along, and thus made a much more enjoyable overall reading experience for me possible, since most things are somewhat understandable through context.
Turning and turning in the widening gyreHe admits himself that the usage of the opening stanza of William Butler Yeats’s poem “The Second Coming,” from which the title of the novel is taken, as an epigraph to Things Fall Apart, was purely done for show. He says: “Actually, I wouldn’t make too much of that. I was showing off more than anything else. As I told you, I took a general degree, with English as part of it, and you had to show some evidence of that.”
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
It seemed as if the very soul of the tribe wept for a great evil that was coming—it’s own death.One thing I absolutely adored about this book, however, was its ending. I know it might come across as quite gimmicky and “in-yo-face” but I think that Achebe achieved what he wanted to show in the most straightforward way.