Musings of a Bibliomaniac

Goodreads immigrant. Another victim of corporate tyranny. I blog at Musings of a Bibliomaniac along with my co-blogger Scarlet.

Image of Africa/the Trouble With Nigeria (Great Ideas) - Chinua Achebe Presently, An Image of Africa has 37 ratings and 2 reviews (not including mine). While [b:Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays|113410|Hopes and Impediments Selected Essays|Chinua Achebe|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320399747s/113410.jpg|109186], a compilation of essays by Achebe which contains this famous piece along with a few others, has 109 ratings and 8 reviews.

Which means this particular essay is as unknown and ignored as Heart of Darkness is universally read and worshipped.
This does not however indicate that Achebe has been given the cold shoulder by Goodreaders. (Oh no not at all, he is very popular instead.)
Merely this that, either most people on this site are not too intent on reading essays or not specifically interested in an African writer's denouncement of a most revered piece of literature written by a European.
Even a Google search wasn't able to cough up links to coherent reviews of Achebe's essay than a meagre 2 or 3, one of which was posted on a UK based website, which understandably enough, shot down all of Achebe's claims in the same way as the rest of the world may dismiss a threat of nuclear war made by North Korea.

Sharp, precise, thorough and keen in its deconstruction of Conrad's Heart of Darkness as a piece of mainstream literature fraught with racist implications, An Image of Africa does not only seek to label Conrad as a 'bloody racist' as the description says. (for your information, reader, he uses the word 'thoroughgoing' instead of 'bloody')
Achebe also brings to our notice, the often overlooked aspects of this literary fiction that is read by millions and taught as coursework for literature students worldwide, especially in American universities. Among the numerous critiques of Heart of Darkness, not one exists which points out Conrad's blatant dehumanization of the inhabitants of Africa as a manifestation of an obstinate white sense of superiority.
Which is why Achebe took it upon himself to write one.

"A Conrad student informed me in Scotland that Africa is merely a setting for the disintegration of the mind of Mr. Kurtz.

Which is partly the point. Africa as setting and backdrop which eliminates the African as human factor. Africa as a metaphysical battlefield devoid of all recognizable humanity, into which the wandering European enters at his peril. Can nobody see the preposterous and perverse arrogance in thus reducing Africa to the role of props for the break-up of one petty European mind? But that is not even the point. The real question is the dehumanization of Africa and Africans which this age-long attitude has fostered and continues to foster in the world. And the question is whether a novel which celebrates this dehumanization, which depersonalizes a portion of the human race, can be called a great work of art."


I think I ended up highlighting so much while reading that it would have sufficed to just highlight the entire printed text or leave it alone and consider the whole thing highlighted, anyway.
Achebe's line of reasoning and thought is impossible to slight and makes one see Conrad's much vaunted literary masterpiece in a new light altogether.
But another reading of Heart of Darkness is needed before I can extol the infallibility of Achebe's arguments with more conviction.

Currently reading

Edisto
Padgett Powell
The Pure Gold Baby
Margaret Drabble
The Brothers Karamazov
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Larissa Volokhonsky, Richard Pevear
Progress: 28 %