Chinua Achebe Long Fiction Analysis
Chinua Achebe is probably both the most widely known and the most representative African novelist. He may very well have written the first African novel of real literary merit—such at least is the opinion of Charles Larson—and he deals with what one can call the classic issue that preoccupies his fellow novelists, the clash between the indigenous cultures of black Africa and a white, European civilization. He avoids the emotionally charged subject of slavery and concentrates his attention on political and cultural confrontation. His five novels offer, in a sense, a paradigm of this clash. He begins in Things Fall Apart with the first incursion of the British into the Igbo region of what became the Eastern Region of Nigeria, and his subsequent novels trace (with some gaps) the spread of British influence into the 1950’s and beyond that into the postindependence period of the 1960’s. The one period he slights, as he himself admits, is the generation in transition from traditional village life to the new Westernized Africa. He had difficulty imagining the psychological conflict of the African caught between two cultures. There is no example in Achebe of Cheikh Hamidou Kane’s “ambiguous adventure.” Achebe does, however, share with Kane and with most other African novelists the idea that his function as a writer is a social one.
Achebe insists repeatedly on this social function in response to Western critics who tend to give priority to...
(The entire section is 7289 words.)
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