Sunday, February 23, 2003

Chinua Achebe

to the African reader the price of Conrad's eloquent denunciation of colonisation is the recycling of racist notions of the "dark" continent and her people. Those of us who are not from Africa may be prepared to pay this price, but this price is far too high for Achebe. However lofty Conrad's mission, he has, in keeping with times past and present, compromised African humanity in order to examine the European psyche. --Caryl Phillips, Out of Africa, The Guardian, February 22, 2003

On the recommended works by this author:

The allusion in the title to Yeats’s poem, “The Second Coming”--“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”--signalled Mr Achebe’s awareness that he was living at a crossroads in history, something he regards as being good for a writer and for which he has always been grateful. --The Economist, A golden jubilee, October 23, 2008

In Arrow of God, his most richly complex novel, the inability of the British to read the script and scripture of Igbo culture had disastrous consequences, not, as it turns out, for the British but for the Igbos. Before the imposition of British rule, the Igbos had no kings or forms of centralised authority enshrined in chieftaincies, a feature of Igbo polity which, as the novel is at pains to spell out, Lord Lugard’s policy of ‘indirect rule’ ignored. --Lewis Nkosi, At the Crossroads Hour, London Review of Books, November 12, 1998, review of Chinua Achebe: A Biography, by Ezenwa-Ohaeto

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