Showing posts from September, 2006

Rise of the English Novel (1)

Novel’s Origin in Medieval Stories
Medieval romances and collections of ballads, especially those concerned with the legends of King Arthur, were the germinal sources of the modern novel. They were fiction of a picaresque and lively kind, though rambling stories. They were peopled by stock characters such as the wicked wizard and the damsel in distress. But they catered to the human longing for fiction and imaginative stimulation.

Development in the Elizabethan Age
The Elizabethan Age was the rise of the prose romance, of which Lyly’s “Euphues” and Sidney’s “Arcadia” are examples. Their prose styles, however, are too fantastic. Characters are rudimentary and there is little attempt at an integrated plot. There is too much of moralizing. But they represent a further step taken towards the beginning of the novel proper.

Picaresque Novel in the Seventeenth Century
A new type of embryo novel of Spanish origin, namely, the picaresque novel, made its appearance at the end of the sixteenth centu…

Elements Contributing to the Success of Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" (5)

5. Reference to Nature

The last element contributing to the success of the novel Things Fall Apart is the reference to nature. Since the novel talks about the life of the native people in Nigeria, it cannot be neglected that their life is related to planting, gardening, hunting, and many things related to the nature. The illustration of planting, as the reference to nature, can be seen on the back-plot of the novel, when Achebe talks about the life of little Okonkwo with his mother and sisters.

And so at the very early age when he was striving desperately to build a barn through share cropping Okonkwo was also fending for his father’s house. It was like pouring grains of corn into a bag full of holes. His brother and sisters worked hard enough, but they grew women’s crops, like coco-yams, beans, cassava. Yam, the king of crops, was a man’s crop.
(Achebe, 1958: 16)

Another reference to nature also talks about plants. It can be seen when Ikemefuna teaches Nwoye many things.

He could fashion …

Elements Contributing to the Success of Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" (4)

4. Ceremony and Custom

The next element contributing to the success of on the novel is ceremony and custom. There are many ceremonies that show the traditional ritual of the Umuofia. The first ceremony found in the novel can be seen in the following quotation:

The feast of the New Yam was approaching and Umuofia was in a festival mood. It was an occasion for giving thanks to Ani, the earth goddess and the source of all fertility. Ani played a greater part in the live of the people than any other deity. She was the ultimate judge of morality and conduct. And that was more; she was in close communication with the departed fathers of the clan whose bodies had been committed to earth.
(Achebe, 1989: 26)

The quotation above indicates that the Umuofians perform the ceremony to honor Ani, as goddess of earth, who roles a greater part for the fertility of the ground. The feast is held every year before the harvest. Every people in Umuofia look forward to the New Yam festival as it is the sign to …

Elements Contributing to the Success of Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" (3)

3. Proverbial Wisdom

The glory of Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart is his use of proverbs and adages of oral culture. What sets him apart from other African writers is the fact that he is, by far, more successful than others in flawlessly translating his working of African terms from one medium to another, from an oral tradition to an alien form of European origin without obliterating the freshness and vigor of the former, and despite the vast difference separating the two cultures. His characteristic mode of writing, in other words, fulfills Achebe’s own idea that the ”English of the African will have to be a new English, still in communion with its ancestral home but altered to suit its new African surroundings. “In his own fiction, he succeeds in creating an English that is not only, as critics have pointed out, “detached”, “stately”, and “impassive”, but also singular in its ability to bring a whole range of human experience before our mind’s eye by his consummate use of imagery d…

Elements Contributing to the Success of Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" (2)

2. Legends

There are a number of legends found in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. The first legend is about how the darkness of the night hides much evilness beneath it. Everybody fears it, and the children are warned not to do something taboo in the night to avoid the evil spirit. As it is found in the following quotation:

The night was very quiet. It always quiet except the moonlight nights. Darkness held a vague terror for these people, even the bravest among them. Children were warned not to whistle at night for fear of evil spirits. Dangerous animal became even more sinister and uncanny in the dark. A snake never called by its name at night, because it would hear. It was called a string.
(Achebe, 1958: 7)

From the quotation above, it is known that the Umuofia’s people fear the darkness because they believe that there is much evilness beneath the darkness of the night. The interesting fact is that they never call a snake with its name because snake symbolizes the power of evilness…

Elements Contributing to the Success of Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" (1)

1. The Didactic Animal Tales

Chinua Achebe enrichies Things Fall Apart with animal tales, and shows the readers that the Ibo clan in Nigeria is fruitful with a number of animal tales which Igbo people use as means to teach moral values to their generation. The didactic animal tales are found in the story of birds, lizards, tortoises, locusts, and many more. The first example of the didactic animal tale is found when Ezinma and her mother Ekwefi cook the green vegetables while they are waiting Okagbue searching the Ezinma’s iyi-uwa (a special stone that forms the link between an Ogabanje and spirit world. The child would eventually die if the iyi-uwa were not discovered and destroyed) in the yard. The cooked vegetables will become smaller after being cooked. This situation is used by Ekwefi to tell Enzinma about the story of the snake-lizard when they cook vegetables.

‘There is too much green vegetable,’ she said.
‘Don’t you see the pot is full of yams?’ Ekwefi asked. ‘And you know how le…

Wimsatt and Beardsley on the Intentional Fallacy

The intentional and affective fallacies
In The Verbal Icon (1954), William Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley describe two other fallacies which are encountered in the study of literature.
The "Intentional Fallacy" is the mistake of attempting to understand the author's intentions when interpreting a literary work. Such an approach is fallacious because the meaning of a work should be contained solely within the work itself, and attempts to understand the author's intention violate the autonomy of the work.
The "Affective Fallacy" is the mistake of equating a work with its emotional effects upon an audience. The new critics believed that a text should not have to be understood relative to the responses of its readers; its merit (and meaning) must be inherent.
Terms for the critical methods they opposed in this essay are romantic criticism, biographical criticism, and genetic criticism (AKA "source-hunting"). They allege that these methods begin "by …

Vortia: A Devoted Daughter?

From Portia’s conversation with Nerissa in Act I, ii, we can infer that actually at first Portia has fears if the wrong man will choose the right casket. She feels that the will of her dead father is not logic as she can neither choose whom she wants to marry nor refuse the one she dislikes as her will is checked by the will of her dead father.
But this reasoning is not in the fashion to choose me
a husband. O me, the word “choose”! I may neither
choose whom I would nor refuse whom I dislike; so
is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of
a dead father. (Act I, ii, lines: 19-22)

However, Nerrisa, assures her that her father was always pious so that lottery which he has planned in the three caskets of gold, silver, and lead, in which the one who chooses his meaning correctly will win Portia, will never be chosen correctly except by the person who truly loves Nerrisa.

From the above short description, it is right that Portia, as a devoted daughter, dares not to betray terms imposed …

Shakespeare: A Romantic Playwright

The establishment of romantic drama in England was the work of Shakespeare's immediate predecessors known as the university wits (Kyd, Lyly, Greene, Peele, Marlowe, etc.) Shakespeare's plays follow the example set by these men. In other words, he is a romantic dramatist as distinguished from the classical dramatists of ancient Greece and Rome.

The Principles Behind the Ancient Classocal Drama:
Briefly speaking, the classical drama of antiquity was supposed to observe the following principles:
(1) It rigorously maintained a unity of subject and tone. As a result, it kept the spheres of tragedy and comedy entirely separate. A tragedy had to be a tagedy from first to last; it had to maintatin the proper tragic pitch and no humorous episode was permitted in it. A comedy, on the other hand, had to be a comedy from first to last, and no tragic element was allowed to enter into its composition.
(2) There was little or no dramatic action on the stage. The incidents composing the plot took…

The Role of Godot in Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot"

The Role of Godot
by Svetlana Pershinova

In some works of literature, a character who appears briefly, or does not appear at all, is a significant presence. An example of this can be found in the play Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett.
The play deals with a hope for a change and a chance to be saved of two old frineds. One of the character is Godot, someone who never shows up. The reader finds out about him only through the conversations in the play. Although Godot is never physically present on stage, his presence is everywhere. The whole play, including all the actions and the theme itself, is affected by the mention of Godot.

No one in the play ever really saw him, or ever will. His appearance is not as important as a belief in him. The two friends, Estragon and Vladimir spend their lives waiting for this one person to show up, this one miracle to happen. It never does, but as Vladimir says, "It passes the time." It might appear surprising that the lives of two people can …