Why did Chinua Achebe write Things Fall Apart?

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To answer this question, it helps to know a bit about the historical and literary context in which Achebe was writing. At the time Things Fall Apart was first published—1958—Nigeria was still technically under British rule, albeit transitioning to a state of independence. Achebe thus grew up under the shadow of colonialist ideology—in particular, its representations of Africa as a savage and unknowable Other to Europe's purportedly rational and civilized society.

This imperialist construction of Africa was especially evident in the literature Achebe studied while in college. Works like Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Joyce Cary's Mister Johnson might criticize imperialism, but not in ways Achebe could recognize or empathize with; Conrad leans heavily into the idea of Africa as a dangerous and mysterious quagmire, while Cary's novel focuses on a shallow and ignorant Nigerian man whose life is destroyed by his dreams of being an Englishman (charitably, one could argue that Cary is...

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