When mentioning Achebe, a common issue of controversy is his use of the English language. Due to the fact that Achebe is an African author, one who had his nation undergo the struggles of colonization (and the effects of the post-colonial era), many critics argue that he should stick to using his native tongue. Achebe addresses this issue in both interviews and his writing, and from my perspective, it seems that he almost embraces the idea of English now being Nigeria’s primary language. While he is by no means happy that his home country was once taken from his people, he does not seem to revolt against the change that the British brought. Achebe says that “the country which we know as Nigeria today began not so very ago as the arbitrary creation of the British” (Achebe 851). As stated, while Achebe isn’t ecstatic about the colonization, he believes that Nigeria can benefit from it, noting that rather than being resentful “it may be more profitable to look at the scene as it is” (Achebe 851). Another reason I believe Achebe embraces the changes colonization has brought Nigeria is the fact that he goes on to mention the positive aspects that the colonization brought, particularly praising the “big political units” (Achebe). It seems that Achebe realizes that it is too late to fight the change that was brought upon them, and has learned to make the best of what was given to him. What I find interesting, also, is that even by adapting to a new language, Achebe essentially mastered the art of writing, and became one of the most prolific authors of the 20th century. This, I believe, helps strengthen Achebe’s reasoning to adapt and embrace the English language.
Archive for November, 2012
Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” is regarded as a strong example of post-colonial literature. The story also features many aspects of Realism, such as the up-close look of the main character, Okonkwo. Also, throughout the course of the story, the reader experiences a strong sense of verisimilitude. Achebe introduces the idea of history, which helps to strengthen the novel’s realistic features. One aspect that did strike me as a bit odd, however, was the idea of time. In class, we discussed how, for the most part, Achebe displays time fairly accurately throughout the novel. However, this accurate display of time is disrupted when Okonkwo is banished for the accidental murder of the young boy. These seven years, and the time immediately following it, seem to move by faster, at an almost surreal pace. From Okonkwo’s banishment, to his return, to his eventual death, are all presented to the reader very rapidly. These aspects undermine the idea of a fluid and normal movement of time, which could be seen as Achebe being influenced by the Modernist and Post-modernist movements before his time.
While reading the first few paragraphs of Garcia Marquez’s “Light is Like Water”, one does not immediately notice its supernatural elements. However, when continuing to read, these aforementioned magical aspects hit the reader quite hard, describing children sailing on light, and having vast underwater (or underlight, rather) expeditions in the comfort of their own house. This, of course, leads to a sort of tension for the reader, who must discern between what is real and what is not. This is just one of the elements which Garcia Marquez’s writing employs to cement itself as a staple in the realm of magical realism. Garcia Marquez also describes the magical elements in great detail, speaking of light channeling “down the great avenue in a golden rapid that illuminated the city” (Garcia Marquez 2). The idea of time and space is also clearly evident, and it ties into the idea of realms that intermix with each other. The timing is crucial, and it is explicitly mentioned that every Wednesday, the parents go out to see a movie. This, of course, is when the children’s magical escapades enter the “real” world, essentially penetrating normality. Space is also important, as a seemingly normal room is transformed into islands. What ties this all together, I believe, is magical realist element of the irreducible element. The magical light is never explained, it is just simply to be taken and understood in the contexts of the story. For these reasons, I believe Garcia Marquez’s text employs every primary characteristic of magical realism.
While reading about Calvino, his story Invisible Cities was mentioned and it piqued my interest. Calvino, being heavily influenced by modernism and part of the postmodernism movement, included many postmodernist ideas in the story. I found it interesting that the story displays a story within a story; the poems describing the city, and then Marco Polo’s communication with Kublai Khan. This, coupled with the obvious language barrier between Polo and Khan, highlights an important feature of postmodernism: a disbelief in absolute truth. Postmodernists believed that ones’ perception of the world is subjective. I believe that by juxtaposing Marco Polo and Kublai Khan and their language and social barriers, Calvino attempts to force the reader to imagine on his own. It almost becomes open-ended in a sense. The reader’s views are subjective and the author cannot determine them for him. This ambiguous nature, I believe, was a key factor of Calvino’s writing and his postmodernist ideals.