The African Trilogy by Chinua AchebeStar rating refers only to Things Fall Apart.
Things Fall Apart - Okonkwo is an emotionally stilted African tribesman. He beats his wives, confounds (and beats) his children, has taken human skulls in intertribal warfare. He has what we in the West would call massive gender hangups. Every act of his life is about reaffirming his manliness and shunning womanliness. He has no feminine side. He has no education. He is inarticulate. He is a brute. Achebe gives us a look at a world completely outside the bounds of the readers experience. In this world there is nothing but the clan. There is no police authority, no government, no tax agency, and so on. Important decisions are made by the clansmen collectively, with certain more highly ranking individuals having a disproportionate say in what is to be done. For example, when a clanswoman is killed in another village, it is decided that unless the other village wants war it must provide a young virgin (given to the man who lost his wife), and a young man. This young man, Ikemefuna, is taken by Okonkwo into his compound until the tribe determines what is to become of him. He is a bright young man. The entire household comes to value him. For Okonkwos elder son, Nwoye, Ikemefuna becomes a valued older brother. Even the vindictive Okonkwo comes to like the boy. He spends three years in Okonkwos house. Then it is determined by tribal authority that he must be killed. He is, what, 17? He is taken deep into the forest by the clansmen and cut down with machetes. He calls to Okonkwo in his death throes: My father, they are killing me. Okonkwo, who has so far hung in the back of the crowd, runs up, unsheathes his own machete and joins in the slaughter. The primitive logic here being that someone had to die to avenge the dead woman, and a young man is of greater value than a woman. Women, in fact, are chattel in this culture. The clans rules can be appalling. Twins are considered evil and are routinely killed, left to die of exposure in what is known as the Evil Forest. Child mortality is very high. To deal with the trauma of child mortality the clan has developed a myth: It is believed that some women whose children repeatedly die are in fact bearing what is known as ogbanje. The glossary in the back of this edition defines an ogbanje as a changeling; a child who repeatedly dies and returns to its mother to be reborn. When the child dies, if it is suspected of being an ogbanje, the tribal shaman multilates its body before tossing it into the Evil Forest. If the woman later bears a child with the same mutilations then the suspicion of the ogbanje is confirmed. So, massive is the ignorance here that it takes the breath away. There is universal inarticulateness, and no form of written language. People act out in the most appalling way. The reader does come to think of the Igbo here as a primitive and bestial people. But then the white man comes. And the white man, the colonizer, British in this case, brings with him his religion, his government, his law and most notably his readiness to condemn the clan cosmogony as pure evil, a product of the devil. The Brits waste little time instilling their superior thought in the clansmen. The reader is torn. Are the tribespeople better off losing their indigenous culture to imperialist usurpers? That would certainly mean less disease for them, reduced infant mortality, an increased rational understanding of certain natural phenonmena they would otherwise mythologize. Its clear theres much to be gained from the white man. But in the end the tribespeople cant pick and choose. They have Western culture thrust down their throats. It is, in the end, what amounts to a wholesale cultural annihilation of the Igbo by the whites. The Igbo try to strike back by burning down the Christian church. This reader found this scene a wonderful moment of the old tribal resolve reasserting itself. But Okonkwo and the men who do it are arrested by the colonizers. They are jailed. During their incarceration they are beaten, starved, not treated with the respect their tribal status warrants. They are released only when the tribe pays a ransom. The next morning they meet to decide what is to be done. During the meeting, five of the white mans native (and pusillanimous) clerks arrive to tell the Igbo that they must break up their meeting. In his frustration Okonkwo lashes out and kills a clerk. But his clansmen do not respond by killing the other four clerks, who escape. I dont want to reveal the end. Suffice it to say though that Okonkwo, in an act of desperation, undertakes an act that is the negation of all he has ever believed in and stood for, no matter how problematic that might be viewed. Its a devastating moment driving home some of the points earlier expressed here. The book is gripping. It carries the reader along with a seeming effortlessness and never lags. Its a beautiful book and perhaps a great one.
College Bookstore VS The Internet
Designing an Internet
Do you ever feel that you have to pull yourself away from your computer in order to read? My answer is yes. The best reading for me these days is the half-hour bus ride to work, and a few minutes before falling asleep at night. Now I also schedule time to read and keep various books around. When I get home from work and from , I read for an hour during both intervals. Nichase :.
Internet + Books
The past year has been particularly prolific in varied takes on our shared digital future, contextualizing our current concerns in fascinating media history and exploring the potential consequences of our modern media diets. Collected here are 7 of our favorite books investigating the subject from dramatically different yet equally important angles. I used to find it easy to immerse myself in a book or lengthy article… Now my concentration starts to drift after a page or two. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.
I t's easy to forget that the world wide web as we know it today evolved from an early attempt to put books on the internet. When Tim Berners-Lee envisaged what would become the world wide web, it was with the idea of making academic papers and other documents widely available. To this end he devised a simple way of laying out text and images on a page, inventing what we now call Hypertext Markup Language or HTML. Early HTML could define pages and paragraphs, bold and italicise text, embed images and lay out tables. A little more than 20 years later, HTML 5 includes media playback and animation, and the web has now become so ubiquitous that for most users it is indistinguishable from the underlying framework of the internet itself, but at its core the technology of the web remains little changed. Every web page, however sophisticated it may seem, is basically a digital book that we read on our computer through our web browser. So when Hugh McGuire, founder of PressBooks and LibriVox, stated today that the book and the internet will merge , he was in one sense simply reiterating what is already the case.