alone but its form signifies its different origin. In many aspects, the way indigenous authors like Achebe and Gibran (if we indeed consider him indigenous) mirrors the intentions and aims of a Thomas Hardy or a George Eliot. Orality in this context stands for a societal form that is perceived of as endangered by or already lost to the impersonal forces of progress. In Things Fall Apart the standpoint is retrospective: things have already fallen apart; the narration takes place after the fact, after mere anarchy has been loosed upon the world. The positive values of the older society are usually transmitted orally and the disruptive new society is aligned with writing. The utter incomprehension of the incidents which led to the violent outburst and ensuing suicide of the protagonist, Okonkwo, are going to materialize for posterity in a book the District Commissioner is going to write:

"Every day brought him some new material. The story of this man who had killed a messenger and hanged himself would make interesting reading. One could almost write a whole chapter on him. Perhaps not a whole chapter but a reasonable paragraph, at any rate. There was so much else to include, and one must be firm in cutting out details. He had already chosen the title of the book, after much thought: The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger."

From this ironic conclusion to the book and other evidence in the novel, an "oralist" interpretation would draw the apparent conclusion that the colonial/written system is to be held responsible for the destruction of a pre-colonial/oral society. The limitations of such an interpretation are obvious to the reader of Things Fall Apart, which is so interesting and controversial because it does not encourage one-dimensional interpretations.

Achebe uses orality and storytelling as a trope: as one of many literary techniques in the construction of a fictional text. It is a specialty of those texts that hold a mediating position between several cultures that they deal differently with aspects of orality and the oral tradition. Incorporating aspects from several cultures, they are in turn operative in more than one culture. The processes and methods of this literary interaction again are consequential for the development of an aesthetic of multicultural exchange.

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