An image of Africa - Chinua Achebe Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in An image of Africa - Chinua Achebe Deck (4)
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1

Context

-written in 1977
-it is the foundation of post-colonial criticism
-in 1960-70's witnessed a profusion of writing from formerly colonial cultures, struggling for cultural recognition.
-being born in Nigeria, he experienced the world of colonialism first hand, as Nigeria was a construction of European colonial powers. The African tribes and territories only achieved independence in 1960.
-wrote things fall apart in 1958, depicting the igbo culture and its clash with european culture.
-He was actively involved as a speaker in the Nigerian civil war in 1970, and also in publishing ventures to promote african writing
-his fiction and criticism target colonialist myths and distortions of africa and africans. false representations.

2

Criticism on the essay

- This critique has been attacked as "a political statement rather than a literary criticism." Conrad has frequently been defended on the basis of the historical context in which he lived, or on the grounds that his writing is nonetheless "beautiful".
- A popular rebuttal of Achebe's essay is that of University of Sussex English professor Cedric Watts, who believes that there is in Achebe's stance "an insinuation... that whites are disqualified on racial grounds from judging the text."
-some scholars maintain that conrad disdainfully opposes european imperialism, which was at its height on 1900, and exhibits sympathy for the plight of africans, while others argue that heart of darkness represents not a real africa but an allegory of the individual psychological descent.

3

what he says about heart of darkness

- conrad presents africans as savage, inhumane and incapable of speech. advances through heart of darkness to support and construct his argument
- he appreciates conrad as "a great stylists of modern fiction and a good story-teller", but condemns it being "permanent literature- read and taught". It is "offensive".

4

effect on the canon

-can a novel which celebrates this "dehumanisation" be called "a great work of art. My answer is no, it cannot.
- appreciates "conrad's great talents", with an example. but cannot be a classic as it is "a story in which the very humanity of black people is called into question".
- Achebe assumes a social theory of art. that it reflects social views and values.
-his denunciation of conrad was significant in the so-called 'culture war's' of the 80's and 99's. it acted as a prime example of 'political correctness' and attempted to impose moralistic standards on classic works of literature.
"africa is to Europe as the picture is to Dorian Grey". -