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Chinua Achebe - BIOGRAPHY
Chinua Achebe’s novels and critical pronouncements have profoundly influenced his readers’ understanding of Africans and their lives and have formed the basis for many discussions of ‘the African novel.’ Many great English novelists like Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene and E.M. Forster have influenced him, but Achebe transcends these influences and writes with an authentic African consciousness, interpreting his own traditions and culture in a language that is essentially native, the Igbo-derived English. In fact, one of Achebe’s greatest achievements is the creation of a prose style that, while incorporating African usage and thought patterns, is fluid, lucid and is in impeccably good English. It is a product of a sophisticated mind thoroughly educated in English language and literature as well as his own native culture.
To his credit, Achebe has written four other major novels since Things Fall Apart. In 1960, he wrote the sequel, No Longer at Ease. In 1964, he wrote Arrow of God and in 1966, A Man of the People. All were written within a comparatively brief span of eight years. His first novel Things Fall Apart is considered to be a literary classic and read all over the English-speaking world. It has been translated into many languages and won him a major literary prize the year after it was published. Apart from these, he has produced a few essays of critical and sociological interest, like ‘English and the African Writer’, ‘The Novelist as a Teacher’ and ‘The Role of the African Writer in a New Nation.’ Achebe’s work reflects his preoccupation with the sociological and humanistic aspects of his nation, both in past and the present times.
It is justified to call Chinua Achebe ‘the father of the African novel in English.’ His influence both as a creative writer, political activist, and a critic has been immense. In particular, his use of ‘African English,’ drawing on proverbs, tales and idioms of traditional Igbo culture has provided a legitimate literary voice of post-colonial Africa to emerge.
Politics and writing share a symbiotic relationship and Achebe believes that the writer should be “at the head of the big social and political issues of contemporary Africa. ” Many writers from former European-dominated colonies share his view that the writer’s role in these new emergent nations should be linked to the social and political welfare of the country. As he claims, “I am a protest writer” and that “any good story, any good novel, should have a message....”
Since the sixties, Achebe has been doing more teaching and lecturing and less fiction writing, although he has published books for the young and has concentrated exclusively on educating them. He also wrote Anthills of the Savannah, which was a finalist for the Booker Prize in England in 1987. Much of his later writing since the seventies has been wrapped up in the political turmoil of Nigeria which has undergone a series of upheavals and coup d’etats by various political factions. In the sixties, Achebe was targeted for persecution by one of the non-Igbo lead governments as a dissident and so he fled with his family to Eastern Nigeria, which had declared itself an independent state called Biafra. After a bloody civil war, Biafra was defeated and Achebe exiled himself to Europe and then America.
Achebe has received many honors, and his fame has spread not only in Africa, but all over the Commonwealth, Europe and America. He has been made a Fellow of the Modern Languages Association of U.S.A. and has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by the Universities of Sterling and Southampton. He has also won the coveted Neil Gunn Fellowship awarded by the Scottish Arts Council.
At present, Chinua Achebe lives with his wife in Annandale, New York where they both teach at Bard College. They have four children.
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TheBestNotes.com Staff. "TheBestNotes on Things Fall Apart".
. 09 May 2017