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Chinua Achebe Lisa Iwamoto Eng 409 March 29, 2005.

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Presentation on theme: "Chinua Achebe Lisa Iwamoto Eng 409 March 29, 2005."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chinua Achebe Lisa Iwamoto Eng 409 March 29, 2005

2 Timeline: Albert Chinualumogu Achebe Born on Nov. 16, 1930 in Ogidi, Nigeria Parents raised him with Igbo traditions, but were devout Protestants 1944-1947 – attended Government College in Umuahia 1948-1953 – attended University College in Ibadan –Rejected his christened name for Prince Albert (husband of Queen Victoria) 1953 – earned B.A. at London University 1958 – Things Fall Apart – his first, best known novel (translated into 50 languages, sold 3 million copies) Sept. 10, 1961 – married Christie Chinwe Okoli (has 4 children) 1964 - Arrow of God (won New Statesmen-Jock Campbell Award) 1967 – appointed Senior Research Fellow at Univ. of Nigeria, Nsukka and began lecturing abroad –Univ. of Mass., Amherst, Univ. of Conn., Dartmouth Univ., Bard Univ. 1975 – The African Writer and the English Language 1981 – Headed English dept. and Univ. of Nigeria 1990 – paralyzed from waist down in a serious car accident

3 Albert Chinualumogu Achebe Has received numerous awards and honors from around the world Finalist for esteemed British Booker Award Recipient of the highest award for intellectual achievement in Nigeria

4 “The African Writer and the English Language” Major problem – defining African literature –“…you cannot cram African literature into a small, near definition. I do not see African literature as one unit but as a group of associated units – in fact the sum of all the national and ethnic literatures of Africa” (428). –National literature: “one that takes the whole nation for its province and has a realized or potential audience throughout its territory…a literature that is written in the national language” (428). –Ethnic literature: “one which is available only to one ethnic group within the nation” (428). eg. The national literature of Nigeria is the literature written in English and the ethnic literature are Hausa, Ibo, Yoruba, Efik, Edo, etc. –No defined group should be excluded from “African literature”

5 “The African Writer and the English Language” Why is the national literature of Nigeria and many other African countries is, or will be, written in English? –“…these nations were created in the first place by the intervention of the British which, I hasten to add, is not saying that the peoples comprising these nations were invented by the British” (429). What impact has colonialism had on Africa? –“Colonialism in Africa disrupted many things, but it did create big political units where there were small, scattered ones before” (429). Unified countries of Africa –Some ethnic groups were divided into 2 or 3 powers –“But on the whole it did bring together many peoples that had hitherto gone their several ways. And it gave them a language with which to talk to one another. If it failed to give them a song, it at least gave them a tongue, for sighing” (429).

6 “The African Writer and the English Language” “There is certainly a great advantage to writing in a world language” (430). –Excellent writers and their work will be closed to the rest of the world –Africans can learn English well enough to be able to use it effectively in creative writing But not well enough to use it like a native speaker (“I hope not”) –“The price a world language must be prepared to pay is submission to many different kinds of use” (432). People can use a second language as effectively as their first –Many are happier with first, but majority are not writers –Eg. Olaudah Equiano Should Africans write in English? –Yes, there is no other way. –“It will have to be a new English, still in full communion with its ancestral home but altered to suit its new African surroundings” (433).

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