Huh, our last book proper for Arts One. I’m glad it was such a short and easy read.
Still, if I could describe my experience reading this book in one word it would be: underwhelmed.
I was expecting a lot more from Achebe, especially given his scathing criticism of Conrad. The book itself just felt like a commercial novel. Very middlebrow entertainment . The novel taken in tandem with Heart of Darkness and other works feels a bit more worthwhile, but then there are other works that are primarily canonical endeavours (contingent upon a canon or asking questions of said canon) that managed to be more promising stand-alone works. It was a good story, a good portrait of another society, a nice subtle critique against colonialism, a humanist vindication, but until the very last part it doesn’t feel thematically cogent.
A dilemma I have been grappling with: Is moral imposition imperialism? I believe certain cultural practices can be immoral; examples within this book being the status of women and children in Ibo society, ritual sacrifices, the abandonment of twins, etc. But post-colonial scholars are apt to attack this as moral imposition of one society’s values onto another, a sort of attempt at imperialistic homogenisation? The debate first came to my attention when I was reading about Female Circumcision/Female Genital Mutilation (depending what side of the debate you’re on). This argument bothers me on several levels, but then, I can’t help but think of the Prime Directive. Thoughts?