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Authors: Das, Kishore Kumar
Issue Date: 2010
Abstract: I propose to investigate the portrayal of leadership in the novels of Chinua Achebe. My contention here is that Achebe's concern with the issue of leadership is not confined to his non-fictional works alone; instead it turns out to be one of his major preoccupations in all his novels. In my study, I demonstrate how these novels present before us various models of leadership critiquing their failure in their search for possibly the most suitable model of 'true leadership'. In my view, Achebe's notion of true leadership is closely connected with his principle of synthesis operational at various levels in his novels. Both the Igbo novels (Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God) as well as the urban novels (No Longer at Ease, A Man of the People and Anthills of the Savannah) render highly individualistic leaders. In fact, all these novels together defy the long cherished dichotomous position over individualism-collectivism continuum. They appear to be establishing equal importance of both the individual and the collective. Therefore, Achebe's true leadership in his novels stands for synthetic leadership based on his position of individualist- collectivist synthesis. In my analysis, I examine varying shades of individualistic leadership of Okonkwo, Euzulu, Nanga, Odili, Max and Sam on one hand, and the collectivistic leadership of Umufia, Umuaro and Umuofia Progressive Union on the other. I also highlight how in the last two urban novels A Man of the People and Anthills of the Savannah the voice of the collective gets marginalized. I point up how in his last novel Anthills of the Savannah, Achebe tries to suggest possible solution to the highly problematized issue of leadership facing the postcolonial state by developing the characters of Ikem and Beatrice. In ii short, my critical study of Achebe's novels seeks to establish the argument that they are not only beautiful fictions capturing historical realities, but they also offer trenchant discourses on the issue of leadership in general and the crisis of leadership facing the Nigerian state in particular. Ever since the publication of Things Fall Apart in 1958, Chinua Achebe has remained one of the most popular novelists for critics and scholars interested in the area of African literature. And, therefore, this is hardly a surprise to find volumes of scholarly works on his novels produced over the period of last five decades. However, to the best of my knowledge, the significant scholarly works on the novels of Achebe include Gerald Moore (1962), Abiola F. Irele (1967), Solomon lyasere (1969), G. D. Killam (1969), John Povey (1971), David Cook (1977), M. M. Mahood (1977), C. L. Innes and Bernth Lindfors (1979), E. Y. Egblewogbe (1979), Robert M. Wren (1980), Romanus Egudu (1981), Abdul Janmohamed (1983), Benedict Chiaka Njoku (1984), Eugene McCarthy (1985), C. A. Babalola (1986), Allen H. Merriam (1988), C. L. Innes (1990), David Carrol (1990), Umelo Ojinmah (1991), Simon Gikandi(1991), Kalu Ogba (1992), Kwame Anthony Appiah (1992), Biodun Jeyifo (1993), Florence Stratton (1994), Michael Harris (1994), Chioma Opara 0(1998), David I. Ker (1998), Solomon 0. lyasere (1998), Angela Smith (1998), Willene P. Taylor (1998), Eugene McCarthy (1998), Julian N. Wasserman (1998), Abdul Janmohamed (1998), Russell Mcdowgall (1998), Abiola F. Irele (2000), Chinwe Christiana Oke-chukwu (2001), Ode Ogede (2001), Marshall Morrison and Wideman Felicia Beckmann (2002), Ernest N. Emenyonu (2003), Simon Gikandi (2003), Mala Pandurang (2007), Anuradha Ghosh (2007), Mary E. Modupe Kolawole (2007), Kwadwo Osei Nyame (2007), in Roopali Sirkar (2007), Reema Kansal and Amit Sarwal (2007), Anjali Roy and Viney Kirpal (200.7), Debashish Lahiri (2007), Russell Mcdowgall (2007), Pauline Dodgson Katiyo (2007) and Chima Anyadike (2007). A close scrutiny of all the scholarly works listed above draws our attention to major trends in Achebe-criticism. These studies could be broadly classified as postcolonial, cultural, sociological, anthropological, intertextual, autobiographical, feminist, comparative and linguistic. However, there has not been much scholarly attempt to foreground the philosophical underpinnings in the novels of Achebe. It is yet to be properly explored how these texts join the debate over individualismcollectivism continuum bringing fresh insights into the study of the relationship between the individual and the collective. It remains to be highlighted how such insights help these texts address the crucial issue of leadership in a very novel and effective way. My work also highlights how Achebe adds new dimensions to the genre of novel while dealing with the issue of leadership. My critical analysis of the novels of Chinua Achebe is largely textual. With the help of semiotics I try to uncover hidden meanings in these texts in order to make my point of argument.
Other Identifiers: Ph.D
Appears in Collections:DOCTORAL THESES (HSS)

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