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Judith Gleason on “The wild old Nigerian!”

Prefacing the Fawcett paperback, 1970.

The title for Chinua Achebe’s first novel, Things Fall Apart, is taken from William Butrler Yeats’ poem, “The Second Coming,” and the title for his second novel, No Longer At Ease, from T.S. Eliot’s “The Journey of the Magi.”  As Judith Gleason points out in This Africa, the choice of titles reflects the author’s awareness of a debilitation that Okonkwo foresees in Things Fall Apart.  “For Things Fall Apart comes from the world of Yeats’ cataclysmic vision, and how the Irish poet would have appreciated the wild old Nigerian!  No Longer at Ease comes from the anticlimactic world to which Eliot’s magi return.  The career of the grandson Okonkwo [the hero of No Longer at Ease, grandson of the hero of Things Fall Apart] ends not with a machet’s swing but with a gavel’s tap.”

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