Neil M. Gunn, Chinua Achebe and the Postcolonial Debate

Margery Palmer McCulloch

in Scottish Literature and Postcolonial Literature

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780748637744
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652143 | DOI:
Neil M. Gunn, Chinua Achebe and the Postcolonial Debate

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The principal fiction texts described in this chapter include Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, and Neil Gunn's novel of the Clearances, Butcher's Broom. Things Fall Apart aims to examine the past of the Igbo people in an objective way, and the narrative celebrates the strengths of the community while at the same time laying bare its weaknesses: weaknesses brought to us implicitly through varied focalisation and by the foregrounding of specific details in the narrative, and more explicitly and tragically through the characterisation of its flawed, ‘Shakespearean’ hero, Okonkwo himself. Butcher's Broom shows how the break-up of the ancient clan system by the Westminster government in the aftermath of the Jacobite rebellions has left the people rootless. Although Gunn used English for his narratives of the predominantly Gaelic-speaking Highlands, his language choices were not so varied or oppositional as those of African writers.

Keywords: Chinua Achebe; Things Fall Apart; Neil Gunn; Butcher's Broom; Gaelic-speaking Highlands; Igbo people; Okonkwo

Chapter.  6317 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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