Wikipedia:WikiProject Biography/Peer review/Chinua Achebe

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Chinua Achebe[edit]

Mr. Achebe is probably the most important African writer of the 20th century. I have spent the past month taking this article from Start-class to what I hope is near FA-status. For biographical info I have relied heavily on one book, a biography written by Ezenwa-Ohaeto – this is because there is very little info about his life itself. Nearly all of the numerous books called Chinua Achebe are devoted to analysis of his novels. Thanks in advance to those who are able to review the article and offer comments. – Scartol · Talk 00:17, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Excellent work and well-worthy of being an FA, at least from my initial review. In addition to JayHenry's insights, which I warmly agree with, two points seem to need further clarification: the last sentence of first Themes paragraph ("Achebe's depiction of Igbo life is an affirmation of the portrayal laid out by the abolitionist Olaudah Equiano in his Narrative.") and the context for the Albert Schweitzer criticism. Good luck with the FAC nomination, and don't forget your promise, ;) Willow 04:24, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
 Done. Thanks for your support, WillowW. I appreciate it! (And I never forget a promise. That's why I rarely promise anything, heh.) – Scartol · Talk 02:39, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Please see automated peer review suggestions here. Thanks, APR t 13:47, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

User: Qp10qp[edit]

I'm delighted someone has taken this article in hand. Achebe is brilliant writer, in my opinion, and I've never read another African, including Soyinka and Fugard, who expressed African dilemmas so vividly and universally. The article is professionally written, give or take a stubby paragraph or two, and I'm sure could make FA tomorrow. May cowrie shells rain on colleague Scartol for delivering such a balanced and readable treatment.

However, praise alone roasts no yams, so here goes with the comments.

  • Some way needs to be found, I suspect, of reducing the lead to four paragraphs, the maximum tolerated at FA. Not that I really care about this myself.
  • Done and done. I moved the Conrad bit up to the second paragraph and shortened that wording. – Scartol · Talk 19:14, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Nailed.qp10qp 22:03, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • combines straightforward narration with folk stories, proverbs, and oratory. I wonder if this reqires clarifying, because Achebe is not oratorical himself; but allows his characters to be.
  • Also done. – Scartol · Talk 19:23, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Smart.qp10qp 22:03, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • The Achebe family had five other surviving children, named in a fusion of traditional words relating to their new religion: Frank Okwuofu ("New word"), John Chukwuemeka Ifeanyichukwu ("God has performed well", "Nothing is beyond God"), Zinobia Uzoma ("The good path", from an old proverb), Augustine Nduka ("Life is more important [than wealth]"), and Grace Nwanneka. I found this extremely difficult to follow, since the connections are not consistently set out. I am not sure it is worth the effort of trying to anatomise all this in an article about Chinua.
  • Yes, I agree. Removed. – Scartol · Talk 19:51, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
It takes a potential stumbling stone away.qp10qp 22:03, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • belonged to a group of exceedingly studious pupils who caused the headmaster to ban the reading of textbooks from five to six o'clock in the afternoon. A headmaster who bans the reading of textbooks for an hour a day? I didn't quite understand this. Was it to force them to play sports? Wouldn't they have had compulsory sports anyway? What about other books besides textbooks?
  • It was less about forcing them to do sports and more about getting them not to study so hard. (Kind of like in Japan, where the government sometimes has to force people to take vacations.) Other books were allowed – thus the next sentence "Forced to explore the volumes in the school's library…". I'll try to make this more clear. – Scartol · Talk 19:51, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Sorry. Me being dense.qp10qp 22:03, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • the school was built on what the residents called "bad bush" – similar to the "evil forest" Achebe later described in "Things Fall Apart". I think this needs some explanation. It is significant in showing that the school (what were the "Merchants of Light"?) was built by Christians and represents a challenge to the tribal superstitions. This might be an opportunity to mention, perhaps in a footnote, the story of the twins in Things Fall Apart, one of Achebe's most brilliant encapsulations of Christian ascendancy in the Igbo villages.
  • I've taken a whack at this. Let me know if it still needs more clarity. – Scartol · Talk 19:58, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
I think that's classy. Not everyone likes substantive footnotes, though, I admit.qp10qp 22:03, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • In connection with that, I think more could be made of the significance of Achebe's parents' Christianity. The Christians had access to the English language and imperial patronage and therefore over a generation or two became the civil service class, which trampled over the village hierarchies; Achebe's immersion in the culture of the English-language novel and its literary tradition stems from that, I believe. Were this addressed, more dots might join up in the article, showing that his path from Igbo village boy to Man Booker prize winner follows an explicable narrative.
  • I think you're right, but I haven't seen (in the seven or so books I've read) anything that advances this theory itself. I certainly don't want to add anything WP:OR, and I think I put in as much about his parents' religion as I justifiably can. Any thoughts on where/how to expand it? – Scartol · Talk 23:19, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Here's an example, I think (p 80). The information is woven into a basic piece of introductory biography.--qp10qp 22:16, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Currently the most populous conurbation in Nigeria (in Africa second only to Cairo), in the 1950s the city teemed with life imported from the rural villages. The connection seems forced here; if there is going to be a statement about the size of Lagos, I would have expected its comparative size at the time to be mentioned. If this is not known, I don't think crow-barring its present size in works here.
  • Agreed. Removed. – Scartol · Talk 23:19, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
OK.--qp10qp 22:54, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • According to Alan Hill, employed by the publisher at the time.... What as? One gets the impression from later mentions of him that he was a general editor, submissions editor, or publicist. It perhaps needs to be made clear.
  • It annoyed me to no end to find that this was never explained. I was hoping no one would notice, heh. I honestly have no idea what to classify him as; at one point the book refers to him as "a publishing innovator". But this doesn't make anything clearer, and I'm afraid I'm stuck on how to clarify his role. – Scartol · Talk 23:19, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Hopping around on Google, it seems he was the educational editor when Achebe first sent the book in, but he was later promoted to run the whole of Heinemann, and so it would be different to clarify his position at any one time. I found four different descriptions of his role.qp10qp 22:54, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • He met the poet Sheikh Shaaban Robert, who complained of the difficulty he'd faced in trying to publish his Swahili-language work; at one point he'd had to write a letter of protest to a South African university to get compensation for a book of his poems it had published. I'm not sure I quite grasp this. That the university didn't pay him after publishing a book of his poems doesn't follow from the point that he couldn't get his Swahili-language work published.
  • Agreed. Revised. Vici. – Scartol · Talk 23:19, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Much better. I would lose the contraction, though, I think.--qp10qp 22:54, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • The bit about not meeting Baldwin seems a little unnecessary to me, particularly as there's so much about Baldwin later on. I sense here and in one or two other spots that we are getting Achebe's own version somewhat, or the official biography version of his student Ezenwa-Ohaeto. Achebe obviously thought it was significant that he was looking forward to meeting Baldiwn and reading up for the big moment, but does this actually amount to much?
  • Agreed. Fixed. – Scartol · Talk 23:19, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
OK.--qp10qp 22:54, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • The following sounds to me a bit like Achebe spinning a good anecdote, honed upon interviews and speeches: one elderly professor approached him, said: "How dare you!", and stormed away. Another suggested that Achebe had "no sense of humour", but several days later Achebe was approached by a third professor, who told him "I now realize that I had never really read Heart of Darkness although I have taught it for years."
  • Perhaps, but it's a pretty widely-known quote, so I think it belongs. Obviously we don't have anyone else's perspective, which would be good but impossible to find. I try to use anecdotes sparingly, but in this case I think it works. – Scartol · Talk 23:19, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
I expect my doubts come from the historian in me.qp10qp 22:54, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I was equally narrow eyed about this: During their panel discussion, however, an anonymous voice came through the hotel's PA system, interrupting Baldwin and saying: "I am coming up there Mr. Baldwin.… We can't stand all this kind of going on." Baldwin paused, and his cheerful expression vanished. He replied, "Mr. Baldwin is nevertheless going to finish his opening statement … if you assassinate me in the next two minutes, it no longer matters what you think. The doctrine of white supremacy on which the white world is based has had its hour.… Someone has polished that up, I sense; and it's not really about Achebe. I'd prefer such moments to be summarised rather than told as narrative, but I wouldn't blame you if you balked at the idea killing such novelistic moments.
  • Yes, I agree that this can go. Removed. – Scartol · Talk 23:19, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
I feel bad now.--qp10qp 22:54, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Do we know who Weep Not Child was by?
  • Yes. Added. – Scartol · Talk 23:19, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Oh, Ngugi.qp10qp 22:54, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Why were Achebe and his wife safe in Port Harcourt and Ogidi?
  • Explained. – Scartol · Talk 00:17, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
I understand now.--qp10qp 22:54, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I actually think this one is okay as a wikilink. If you insist, I'll add more, but I prefer to leave it as is. – Scartol · Talk 00:17, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
OK.--qp10qp 22:54, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Same with the People's Redemption Party? I tend to think this sort of thing should be explained rather than rely on the link for the explanation. I had to look the page up to find out what the orientation of this party was.
  • This one I did change. I agree that parties should have a brief definition. – Scartol · Talk 00:17, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
It helps, I think.--qp10qp 22:54, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • He spent most of the 1980s delivering speeches, attending conferences, winning awards, and collecting honorary degrees. I see what is meant, but I don't quite believe this. I mean, winning awards in itself doesn't take any time at all. Had he given up writing? If so, I think that might be worth addressing.
  • He hadn't given up on writing; most of his time was working on essays and the sixth novel. Updated. – Scartol · Talk 00:17, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
Much better.qp10qp 23:00, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Do we know how the paralysis affected his life? The article accidentally gives the impression that it had no effect at all, which one guesses cannot be so.
  • No, but neither does the bio really go into it at all. (There's one sentence about how Bard provided him with a specially-outfitted house and vehicle.) I tried to find something along this line, and came up empty. Maybe he sees it as an example of things falling apart? – Scartol · Talk 00:17, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
I'll have a dig.qp10qp 22:54, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • The character of Obi in "No Longer at Ease" succumbs to colonial-era corruption in the city, a metaphor for his peoples' alienation from the functioning of society. With all respect to your source, that doesn't come over to me as a metaphor. The book is a wonderful, funny novel, as I recall, but it struck me as all too realistic rather than metaphorical, certainly in outline.
  • Yeah, I felt like this was sort of forced. I found a different way to say it with a different reference. – Scartol · Talk 00:17, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
The point is emerging; those two sentences are still not quite there, in my opinion.qp10qp 22:54, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • By altering syntax, usage, and idiom, he transforms the language into a distinctly African style. If a source says this, I suppose it must pass; but really I didn't notice much of this in the novels, which, with a few stylistic assimilations of local forms, are pretty much written in the language and literary tradition of E. M . Forster, in my opinion.
  • Given that the source is a very comprehensive article going into a ridiculous level of detail analyzing the forms mentioned, I think it's good enough to remain. I think part of what makes TFA so powerful for me is the subtlety of its difference. I notice it, but it doesn't stand out much. – Scartol · Talk 00:17, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
OK. I'm no literary critic. qp10qp 22:54, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • This makes Achebe's books easy for English-speaking culture at large to understand and adopt but might give grounds for criticising Achebe; and perhaps there could be a little more criticism of him in the article. For example, there is a point of view that the absorbtion of local proverbs and folk tales into English is a victory for the imperial or global language at the expense of the local.
  • Perhaps. Alas, the books I've read have been almost entirely positive (even sycophantic in places, I might be willing to admit). I didn't go out seeking such a thing; my thought is that, given his central importance as a grandfather to the modern literature of an entire continent, it's much harder to find critical criticism (?). If you or anyone else can offer me some, I'll be happy to take a look and add where appropriate. – Scartol · Talk 00:17, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
I haven't specifically looked, but I came across certain criticisms while I was hopping about on Google Books looking up Alan Hill. For example, some feminist criticism here.qp10qp 22:54, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

Anyway, congratulations on a fascinating article. I've enjoyed reading it and thinking about it. --qp10qp 23:32, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Thank you very much for your kind praise and attentively detailed review. – Scartol · Talk 00:17, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

Comments from Awadewit[edit]

Kudos to Scartol for countering systemic bias! I, too, think this article is excellent. Here are my nit-picks.

Large-ish issue:

  • As a literary scholar myself, it does kind of bother me to see a great deal of the lit crit citations in the "Style" and "Themes" sections coming out of what appear to be biographies, especially since I see in the "Further reading" what look like some books of criticism. Any way to use these more detailed books? Biographies usually only offer a limited perspective of an author's work and they are usually pretty praiseworthy. I found this to be the case, for example, with Wollstonecraft. The lit crit was far more willing to criticize than the biographies. Awadewit | talk 08:01, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Actually, I don't know that the article is guilty of this. Although some of the books of criticism I used are named simply Chinua Achebe or some variation thereon, they are actually analytical works. I feel that I used a fairly broad variety of authors for the Style and Themes sections; I specifically veered away from the Ezenwa-Ohaeto bio for these areas. While the critical books are not very critical, I've done the best job I could in presenting the varied perspectives they offer. – Scartol · Talk 17:49, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Ok - I'll alert my colleagues that we need to publish more. :) Awadewit | talk 18:34, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Medium-sized content issues:

  • Perhaps more of a distinction could be made between Achebe's reception in Africa and Achebe's reception in the West? I sense it might be a bit different?
  • Boy, I'm going to sound like a whiner here. The sense I've gotten is that, if anything (and I've tried to show this, especially with the reactions to TFA, his first novel), the reactions in the West have been more positive than in Nigeria. Either way, his works have (as best as I can tell) gotten overwhelmingly positive receptions which highlight their worth in challenging colonialist literary hegemony and chronicling the postcolonial experience. Again, I worked hard to present the differences where I could find them, but from what I can tell they're not as severe as one might suspect. – Scartol · Talk 17:49, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • It was the hints already in the article that made me think there might be more to it, but if there isn't, there isn't. Awadewit | talk 18:34, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I felt that most of the literary discussion revolved around Things Fall Apart. Any way to offer a few more examples from the other works in the "Style" and "Themes" sections?
  • Yes, agreed. I'll work on this. – Scartol · Talk 17:49, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Hmm. I spent over an hour working on this, and I think it's as good as I can make it. I was only able to change one instance, leaving Things Fall Apart as the dominant novel referenced, for several reasons:
  1. It's the novel which has been written about most, by a country mile. I've read two books of criticism on it alone, and most of the in-depth essays dealing with, for example, language address it. The essay on oratory, for example, deals with TFA and Arrow almost exactly as that paragraph in the article – focusing mostly on the former and then a bit also on the latter.
  2. Many of the themes and styles which appear in his other novels are very characteristically exemplified in TFA. (Gender roles, for example.)
  3. I've taught it for a number of years, and I feel I have a very solid understanding of it. Thus I feel most comfortable drawing from it. Combined with the other two points above, I feel its prominence in these sections isn't so bad. – Scartol · Talk 00:42, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Well, that's the way the cookie crumbles. Some high school there. Some day I'll tell you about mine. Awadewit | talk 00:59, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

Small-sized content issues:

  • I found the first section of the biography - on religion and naming - a little startling. I was confused as to why we were starting with that, as the lead had not hinted that Christianity was a large theme in his writings or an important part of his life.
  • Given the way his novels (especially Things Fall Apart, his most well known by far) dissect the intersection of tradition and Christian colonialism, it seemed pertinent. I added a phrase in the lead to better prep the reader. – Scartol · Talk 21:22, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Maybe something a bit more explicit? Awadewit | talk 22:33, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Done. – Scartol · Talk 17:22, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • When a professor named Geoffrey Parrinder arrived at the university to teach comparative religion, Achebe abandoned his study of geography and began to explore the fields of Christian history and African traditional religions. - I thought he was studying English, history, and theology?
  • Indeed. I misread the passage. Fixed. – Scartol · Talk 21:22, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • A visit to Nigeria by Queen Elizabeth II in 1956 brought issues of colonialism and politics to the surface, and was a significant moment for Achebe. - Perhaps a little more on why it was significant?
  • Yeah, I thought maybe I should include such a thing, but the book itself doesn't go into it in depth, so I felt like speculation would be OR. Maybe I should just explain who she was and something about the colonial relationship in general? – Scartol · Talk 21:22, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • No, I don't think so. If there's nothing, there's nothing. Awadewit | talk 22:33, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • If we have to cite "100 greatest novels" lists, must we name Time's? Certainly there must be something a little more prestigious?
  • That whole bit was a holdover from the previous version of the article. I tried to find other lists (the original paragraph listed five or six), but I couldn't find sources. – Scartol · Talk 21:22, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • My preference would be to remove the whole thing, but it's up to you. Awadewit | talk 22:33, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I have no deep love for them, so I just got rid of 'em. I think the other specifics about its fame speak for themselves. – Scartol · Talk 16:07, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • What about mentioning the inspiration for the title of Things Fall Apart as a way to describe its themes?
  • Good idea. Added. – Scartol · Talk 21:22, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I assume your sources mention why this poem was chosen - just so readers know. Awadewit | talk 22:33, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • They actually don't. I can't find any evidence that he's addressed it directly, but I have found some speculation. After cogitating on it a bit, I feel like a discussion on the meaning would probably fit best on the TFA page itself. (Going into it a little seems cursory, and going into it in the depth it deserves feels out of place here.) – Scartol · Talk 17:28, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Is the prevailing view that Achebe's view of Heart of Darkness is still controversial? I was certainly taught that the book was racist, even in my (ahem) less than stellar high school.
  • Oh yes, still controversial. I think the strength of Mr. Achebe's language (calling the author a racist, eg) means that some folks will never accept his comments. – Scartol · Talk 21:22, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Well, prevailing among whom? There are certainly some English departments in which Achebe's views are probably not considered controversial anymore. Joyce Carol Oates has pointed out that Conrad is a deeply sexist man as well, because the female characters in Heart of Darkness don't have names and therefore... But it's part of the bigger (never ending?) debate of whether or not historical context matters. Was Conrad (or, to take another example from the same debate, Shakespeare: with Caliban's "vile race", the whole of Merchant of Venice, etc.) a racist? Or was the society in which they lived racist? To what extent should Conrad be considered a racist for using a metaphor that wouldn't be politically correct in the late 20th century, even though he was an obvious progressive and anti-imperialist in his time? I can't state to what extent this is still considered controversial within English departments; as a broader societal thing it remains controversial, I think Scartol's treatment here is fair. --JayHenry 21:58, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I actually think that this is one of the weakest parts of the article. It is presented as shocking and appalling professors, not the entire world. The point is, if you were to research Conrad criticism, you would not find Achebe as a lone voice in the wilderness anymore. The fact that he is included in the Norton speaks volumes - only accepted criticism is included there, not ideas that are outside the mainstream. It is really the emphasis that concerns me - Achebe's talk revolutionized Conrad criticism, but somehow it is still presented as being an unheard voice. Awadewit | talk 22:26, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • This essay, for example, describes Achebe's talk/essay as the dividing line in Conrad criticism - there are two epochs. That is different than Achebe being an outside voice.
  • This chapter describes Achebe as a minority, but again not as a lone voice (this is a companion book, so it is supposed to be an introductory survey).
  • This introduction to the Broadview edition (a good series) is also helpful.
  • Yes, but my intention was to portray the effect his lecture had at the time. (I remember some similar discussion come up in some other article I was peer-reviewing not long ago, heh.) Do you think I ought to explain how his criticism has become ingrained into the mainstream view of Conrad since? Because that discussion seems like it might fit better on the page for the essay itself, and/or might open up a door for more extensive commentary on postcolonial criticism in general. – Scartol · Talk 22:31, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, I see that now. I would add a sentence or two about how it has become part of Conrad criticism (the epoch quote is nice). To me the section seemed unfinished because I just assumed that it was implying that nothing further had happened on that front. Awadewit | talk 22:36, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Okay, will do. Cheers. – Scartol · Talk 22:39, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Awadewit raises a good point about the essay's inclusion in Norton. If we can do it in just a few words, it might be worth mentioning the significance of Norton, as this is probably not widely known among non-English majors. On the other hand, if it's just going to drag it into a debate of how canonical is Norton, maybe it's best not to? --JayHenry 23:16, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I couldn't find a way to explain the relevance of Norton here. I just added the epoch quote and revised the first sentence to explain the context. I think the quote from Kimbrough does a good job of indicating how important the inclusion is. – Scartol · Talk 17:38, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Prose issues:

  • Please include a date for Things Fall Apart in the second sentence of lead (the first time it is mentioned), as well as every other book mentioned in the article - not everyone knows when Pilgrim's Progress was first published...alas.
  • Good point. The worry I have is that the article mentions the prose version of Midsummer and an Igbo version of Progress. Readers might assume the date is for those derivative versions, don't you think? Regardless, I've added them. – Scartol · Talk 21:31, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Ideally, it would like this (1595; x), (1678; y), right? Awadewit | talk 22:40, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Do you mean I should give the date of the original, and then that of the prose version? Because I don't think I can find dates for the latter. I just included dates for the original. – Scartol · Talk 02:49, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Hard to get those sometimes. Awadewit | talk 06:17, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I am confused why sometimes you use Achebe's last name and sometimes his first name.
  • In most cases – for example the sentence: his older brother Augustine even gave up money for a trip home from his job as a civil servant so Chinua could continue his studies. – it's because I refer to another family member in a nearby sentence. – Scartol · Talk 21:22, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • This is not always the case and would Achebe really be so confusing there? This is a minor point. I just like the consistency. Awadewit | talk 22:40, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I noticed a sprinkling of informal contractions throughout the article. Could you spell those all out?
  • I fixed all those I could find (about 5). If you see others, let me know. – Scartol · Talk 21:22, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Chinua was born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe in the Igbo village of Nneobi, on 16 November 1930.[6] The crossroads of culture at which their parents stood made a significant impact on the children, especially Chinualumogu. - The "their" may technically be correct, but as its referent comes later, I was initially confused.
  • The crossroads of culture at which their parents stood made a significant impact on the children, especially Chinualumogu. After the birth of their youngest daughter, the family moved to Isaiah Achebe's ancestral village of Ogidi, in what is now the Nigerian state of Anambra. - The "their's" are just all over the place in this paragraph! :) Same problem here.
  • I'm happy with the antecedent-first construction (obviously, I keep using it even though you keep telling me not to), but I'll change it to eliminate potential confusion. – Scartol · Talk 21:22, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • In 1936 Achebe entered St. Philips' Central School, a T-shaped building surrounded by mango trees. - perhaps some irrelevant details here?
  • Yeah, I got carried away with the description in the book. Removed. – Scartol · Talk 21:22, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • This trained him to differentiate between the written and spoken word, a skill that illuminated the author's task of writing realistic dialogue - Something about this sounds condescending - as he if couldn't tell the difference between the two before. I know what you are getting at, but I think the tone isn't quite right.
  • Agreed. I'll take another stab at it. – Scartol · Talk 21:22, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Done. Lemme know if you think it still needs work. – Scartol · Talk 15:46, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Perhaps something like "master the subtle nuances between..."? Awadewit | talk 17:09, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I personally don't think the differences are usually subtle, but I like your phrasing (nuance is such a good word), so I've used it. – Scartol · Talk 17:44, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Oh, I don't think that the differences are subtle either. What I meant was something more along the lines of representation. Somehow your version still sounded like he didn't know the difference. Awadewit | talk 17:51, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • A huge conurbation, the city teemed with life imported from the rural villages. - Do we really want to suggest that people are imported like goods?
  • Good point. Changed. – Scartol · Talk 21:31, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Achebe was promoted at the NBS and put in charge of the eastern region of Nigeria - the news about the eastern region?
  • The eastern region of the network, bringing news of the eastern region. Revised. – Scartol · Talk 21:31, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Having shown his acumen for portraying traditional Igbo culture, Achebe demonstrated in his sophomore work an ability to depict modern Nigerian life. - I think "sophomore" is not the best word here; initially I thought you meant "sophomoric" with its negative connotations.
  • Agreed. Changed. – Scartol · Talk 02:42, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Achebe and the Okike committee later established another cultural magazine, Uwa Ndi Igbo, to document and preserve the wisdom and knowledge of the community. - I'm not sure I understand what this means.
  • Took another crack at it. – Scartol · Talk 02:42, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • The Nobel Committee has been often criticized for overlooking important writers, such as Jorge Luis Borges, W. H. Auden, Vladimir Nabokov and Leo Tolstoy. - The last sentence seems a bit off since it has little to do with Achebe and more to do with Nobel politics.
  • Yeah, WillowW added this one, and I thought it was odd, too. I guess she wanted to give a little context? I'll ask her how she'd feel if we removed it. – Scartol · Talk 02:42, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, I was conscious of the stilted prose when I wrote it, but nothing better occurred to me just then.  :( I felt that some kind of context-setting sentence was necessary to balance the conjecture of some scholars that Achebe was being actively denied the Nobel Prize; without an alternative explanation, the reader might assume that was true by default. It's certainly possible — didn't Borges say that the Swedish national pasttime was to deny him the Nobel Prize? ;) — but I think we should be careful to allow the reader to consider other explanations. But it's no biggie, and if you'd prefer a different sentence or to get rid of the sentence altogether, that's perfectly fine with me. I'm still rather swamped so I'm just glancing in; it's lucky that I looked in so soon after you sent your message! :) Willow 03:42, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • It is not the information I have a problem with so much as its placement as the last sentence. I think that the article should end with a sentence about Achebe. Awadewit | talk 05:21, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I see what you mean. I've moved them around to end with the quote from him. – Scartol · Talk 17:22, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • But the quote is about someone else (sorry to be so picky!). Awadewit | talk 17:33, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • No, it's not. I just worded it confusingly. I've clarified. – Scartol · Talk 17:42, 22 October 2007 (UTC)


  • Not all of the quotations have inline citations right after them. For the sake of utter transparency, they should.
  • Agreed. It's on my todo list. – Scartol · Talk 02:42, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Done. – Scartol · Talk 00:42, 23 October 2007 (UTC)


  • You know I'm not a fan of infoboxes. If you must keep it, please consider removing the subjective information such as "occupation", "genre" and "literary movement". To describe a writer this way is so limiting.
  • Yeah, I'll trim it. (Someone else put it in, so I'd feel weird removing it entirely; besides, I think they're useful.) – Scartol · Talk 02:42, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Done and done. – Scartol · Talk 16:05, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Why is Chike and the River listed under novels in the "List of works" when the article describes it as a children's book?
    I hopped on and fixed this one. Chike should have been with children's books. Also, "Dead Men's Path" and "Marriage is a Private Affair" were short stories that Achebe wrote as a student, not children's books (they're included in Girls At War as well). --JayHenry 18:23, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I dislike split reference lists - it is difficult for those wanting to do research and since the lists are primarily for those people, why not combine them?
    Do you mean just that you'd like the further reading section to be right next to the bibliography section? I think for ease of use it's valuable to separate the references that are used in this article from those that are not. But, if the issue is just moving "external links" down, that's an easy adjustment. --JayHenry 18:23, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • No, I mean that all of the sources (whether used for the article or not) should be listed together in one bibliography. I don't think a separate list is all that useful. The notes show users what sources were used for the article and the entire bibliography can help those looking for further reading. It's quite disconcerting to a researcher to jump back and forth between the two lists and very unhelpful, in my opinion, and since it is primarily people looking for further sources who are going to be using those lists, I think we should cater to them. Awadewit | talk 18:34, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I can see your point, but my own experience has been the opposite – when searching for the source cited in a footnote, I hate having to wade through books which aren't mentioned in the article at all. What do you think, Jay? – Scartol · Talk 22:43, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • That is why man invented the alphabet. :) Awadewit | talk 22:48, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I find it pretty trivial either way really. I don't think it's a significant amount of work to find a book in the footnotes from 36 sources instead of 18. I don't think it's a significant amount of work for the researcher to have the information in two lists. It's a total coin toss for me. I only asked for clarification above because I wasn't sure exactly what Awadewit wanted. --JayHenry 23:16, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • As it is a personal preference, I will say no more after this. To my eyes, though, the split list looks less professional than the single list and we might as well use every tool at our disposal to bolster wikipedia's reputation, even if it is only layout. Awadewit | talk 23:21, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • That's fine. I don't really feel very strongly one way or another, so I'll change it. (Now that I think of it, it does seem silly for me to get nervous when someone adds an item in the Bibliography when it should be in the Further Reading section.) You win again, Awadewit! – Scartol · Talk 02:42, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I prefer to think of it as a friendly discussion. :) Awadewit | talk 05:21, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • A bit long. Perhaps, like me, you should aim for 8,000 words? (I counted a little over 9,000.)
  • I asked Qp about this – he indicated it wasn't an issue, and while I agree that it is long, I also feel that he's such an important figure that he deserves a little extra. (Obviously Priestley is too, so I'm aware that I'm hypocritical here. But let the record show that I never recommended shrinking that article.) – Scartol · Talk 02:42, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I would just be prepared to defend the length at FAC. (I suppose living African writers involved in revolutions are more interesting to people than dusty old theologians who stumbled across an air that they didn't really understand.) Awadewit | talk 05:21, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • By the way, what about a phonetic pronunciation for his name?
  • Not a bad idea, but I'm completely baffled by IPA. Any idea where I could go to find a simple version of the rules for transcribing such a thing? – Scartol · Talk 17:47, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Absolutely none. :( Awadewit | talk 17:51, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Indeed they do. Thanks, A. (Is that obnoxious scrolling thing going to be there for the whole fundraiser? I already donated!) – Scartol · Talk 23:23, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • It just makes me feel guilty. I have to keep reciting to myself: "really, my time is a donation". English graduate students are not paid very well, I'm afraid. Awadewit | talk 23:54, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
* Really, Awadewit, Wikipedia should be paying you. Anyways, you can turn the thing off by adding div#siteNotice {display:none} to Special:Mypage/monobook.css like I did here. Remember to bypass your browser's cache afterwards. --JayHenry 00:00, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, thanks indeed, JH! – Scartol · Talk 00:42, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

Very interesting and very well-written - kept me interested and lengthened by wish list. :) Awadewit | talk 08:01, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

Thank you very much for your detailed review. You rock. – Scartol · Talk 02:42, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
Aw, shucks. :) Awadewit | talk 06:17, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
Okay, I think I've sanded down all the edges that need urgent attention. I think it's ready for a FAC! Thanks again to everyone for your diligent help! – Scartol · Talk 00:42, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
I'll look out for the candidacy. i think we should try to get this put on the main page on November 16. I mean, I know we'll be shouted down because African writers are always appearing on the main page, but I think we should try anyway. :) Awadewit | talk 00:59, 23 October 2007 (UTC)