Cover image for Understanding Things fall apart : a student casebook to issues, sources, and historical documents
Understanding Things fall apart : a student casebook to issues, sources, and historical documents
Ogbaa, Kalu.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xx, 231 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.
Reading Level:
1400 Lexile.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR9387.9.A3 T5365 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PR9387.9.A3 T5365 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Things Fall Apart is the most widely read and influential African novel. Published in 1958, it has sold more than eight million copies and been translated into fifty languages. African culture is not familiar to most American readers however, and this casebook provides a wealth of commentary and original materials that place the novel in its historical, social, and cultural contexts. Ogbaa, an Igbo scholar, has selected a wide variety of historical and firsthand accounts of Igbo history and cultural heritage. These accounts illuminate the historical context and issues relating to the colonization of Africa by European powers, in particular Britain's colonization of Nigeria. Fascinating materials bring to light the novel's cultural context--folkways, language and narrative customs, and traditional Igbo religion. Among the documents included are a slave narrative, interviews, journal and magazine articles, and historical essays. Each chapter is followed by questions for class discussion and ideas for student paper topics. A selection of maps and photos of Igbo culture complement the text.

Following a literary analysis, historical documents trace the European powers' partition of Africa and the creation and colonization of Nigeria, home of the Igbo people. Several chapters on Igbo cultural harmony feature materials that explain the Igbo view of the world of humans and the world of the spirits, Igbo language, and traditional Igbo religion and material customs. Selections on the African novelists' novel place Things Fall Apart in the context of African literature and emphasize the difference between African and Western elements of fiction. A concluding chapter examines the debate on writing African novels in ex-colonizers' languages. This casebook will greatly enhance the reader's appreciation of the novel and understanding of Igbo history, society, culture, and civilization.

Author Notes

Kalu Ogbaa, an Igboman scholar, is professor of English at Southern Connecticut State University

Table of Contents

J.D. Omer-CooperC. Raymond BeazleyTheodore CanotOlaudah EquianoTheodore CanotWilliam Nevill M. GearyC.K. MeekElizabeth IsicheiMichael CrowderElizabeth IsicheiG.T. BasdenM.M. GreenVictor C. UchenduM.M. GreenG.T. BasdenVictor C. UchenduMazi Elechukwu Nnadibuagha NjakaErnest N. EmenyonuEustace PalmerLewis NkosiJonathan CottNgugi wa Thiong'oEmmanuel N. ObiechinaLewis NkosiDavid WestleyChinua Achebe
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introductionp. xv
1. Literary Analysis: Unifying Elements of Things Fall Apartp. 1
2. Historical Context I: The Scramble for and Partition of Africap. 21
from The Making of Modern Africa, vol. 1. (1968)p. 28
from Prince Henry the Navigator (1967)p. 32
from Adventures of an African Slaver (1928)p. 36
from "The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself" (1997)p. 39
from Adventures of an African Slaver (1928)p. 42
3. Historical Context II: The Creation and Colonization of Nigeriap. 49
from Nigeria Under British Rule (1927)p. 58
from Law and Authority in a Nigerian Tribe: A Study in Indirect Rule (1937)p. 63
from The Ibo People and the Europeans (1973)p. 66
from The Story of Nigeria (1978)p. 69
4. Cultural Harmony I: Igboland--the World of Man and the World of Spiritsp. 75
from A History of the Igbo People (1976)p. 83
from Among the Ibos of Nigeria (1966)p. 89
from Ibo Village Affairs (1964)p. 92
from The Igbo of Southeast Nigeria (1965)p. 96
5. Cultural Harmony II: Igbo Language and Narrative Customsp. 103
from Omalinze: A Book of Igbo Folk-tales (1977)p. 113
6. Cultural Harmony III: Traditional Igbo Religion and Material Customsp. 127
from Ibo Village Affairs (1964)p. 142
from Among the Ibos of Nigeria (1966)p. 145
from The Igbo of Southeast Nigeria (1965)p. 147
from Igbo Political Culture (1974)p. 150
7. Things Fall Apart: The African Novelists' Novelp. 157
from Critical Perspectives on Chinua Achebe (1978)p. 169
from The Rise of the Igbo Novel (1978)p. 172
from The Growth of the African Novel (1979)p. 176
from Tasks and Masks (1981)p. 178
from "Chinua Achebe at the Crossroads" (1981)p. 181
8. Things Fall Apart and the Language Choice Debatep. 191
from Decolonising the Mind (1986)p. 198
from Language and Theme (1990)p. 201
from Tasks and Masks (1981)p. 208
from Choice of Language and African Literature (1990)p. 212
from Morning Yet on Creation Day (1976)p. 216
Glossaryp. 223
Indexp. 227