On Achebe’s Death, Will in the World and Contexts

It's hard to believe that he was only 28 when Things Fall Apart was published.

It’s hard to believe that he was only 28 when Things Fall Apart was published.

Given that folks from period 3 and period 4 shared a little bit of inspiration arising from Chinua Achebe’s death late last week, I thought it might be useful to share this link with everyone.

As I think about an email I received this weekend, I am reminded of two important things: 1. Context enriches understanding; and 2. Forced context doesn’t. And the beauty of context is that it doesn’t have to precede text; you can read a book, and it stays with you. Then something happens in the world and it shines a new light on that old experience, and you gain a layer in your authentic understanding of a work. Who knows, maybe even of literature in general.

Achebe’s life may well inspire a different understanding of Things Fall Apart, just as some understanding of Virginia Woolf might illuminate Mrs. Dalloway, if your empathies are in the right place. I had read Hamlet several times before I bought Greenblatt’s Will in the World, but once I read it, I felt like I knew something about the play that I would never be able to put into words.

Tomorrow, I’d like to close discussion about Hamlet with a discussion focused on Greenblatt, which might be especially interesting to those of you who read that excerpt from his inspired, informed imaginings about Shakespeare. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy reading about the life of a great man in the link above.

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