Saturday, November 1, 2014

Chinua Achebe injects a Trickster in "Things Fall Apart"

Jabuti the tortoise
I was recalling writers who have used trickster stories within their stories, when it occurred to me that Chinua Achebe's most famous novel, Things Fall Apart, contains the very tortoise who cracked his shell, only the story is told differently compared to the wedding one I posted a few weeks ago. An Igbo variation perhaps, which is why the variety of trickster stories across languages and cultures interest me greatly, and how they continue to feature in modern storytelling/writing or as independent oral narratives.
Harold Scheub has a wonderful book: Trickster and Hero--Two Characters in the Oral and Written Traditions of the World, in which he highlights Achebe's trickster towards the very end of the book, under the chapter title: The Trickster Lives. My goal is to keep returning to the tricksters and the people who use them. Of stories Harold says, "As human beings, we tell the same stories. They unite us. Storytellers would tell me: these stories are not truth. They’re a way of getting at truth.” I'll end with an excerpt from Harold's book on Achebe's tortoise trickster in: Trickster and Hero. Enjoy.

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