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12 Lively Facts About Corpse Bride

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Corpse Bride wed some innovative, 21st-century animation to a centuries-old story about life, death, and devotion. More than 10 years in the making, the breathtaking film began filming during one of the busiest chapters in co-director Tim Burton’s life. Despite this, the movie’s all-star cast and state-of-the-art puppetry secured it a chorus of critical praise and an Oscar nomination. We’ve dug up some fascinating facts about the liveliest cadaver film in recent memory.

1. IT’S BASED ON AN OLD JEWISH FOLKTALE.

As production on The Nightmare Before Christmas came to a close, storyboard supervisor Joe Ranft approached Tim Burton with a macabre little yarn that he knew the auteur would eat right up. Titled “The Finger,” this twisted tale came from Shivhei ha-Ari, a 17th-century text that includes a number of Jewish folk stories. Set in Russia, “The Finger” is about a young bridegroom who slips his wedding ring onto the finger of a corpse while reciting his vows. Suddenly, the cadaver leaps up and exclaims “My husband!” Duly horrified, the man brings his would-be spouse before a local rabbi, who annuls their marriage by declaring that the dead can lay no claim to the living. With a piercing shriek, the corpse then falls apart into a pile of disjointed bones, never to rise again.

Suffice it to say Ranft knew his audience: Burton was immediately drawn to the tale and began developing a big-screen adaptation of it. In its transition from a centuries-old folk story to a mainstream film, the original narrative underwent some major changes. Case in point: Burton’s screenwriters devised a more family-friendly climax and shifted the setting from Russia to a fictional locale modeled after Victorian England. Also, allusions to Judaism were omitted because, according to co-writer John August, “Tim gravitates towards a universal, fairy-tale quality in his films.”

2. BURTON, JOHNNY DEPP, AND MANY OTHERS WORKED ON CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY AND CORPSE BRIDE SIMULTANEOUSLY.

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for MOMA

Both Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Corpse Bride essentially entered their production phases at the same time. The overlap presented a big challenge for Burton, who lent his directorial talents to both films. Corpse Bride saw him share the helm with co-director (and stop motion animator) Mike Johnson. “Tim knew where he wanted the film to go as far as the emotional tone and story points to hit,” Johnson said. “My job was to work with the crew on a daily basis and get the footage as close as possible to how I thought he wanted it.”

Complicating things further was the fact that a number of key actors who appeared in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—including Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Christopher Lee—also did voicework for Corpse Bride. In many cases, these players would portray their characters in the live action Roald Dahl flick by day before recording their Corpse Bride lines at night.

Composer Danny Elfman was likewise asked to work on both projects concurrently. In fact, according to the musician, Burton hired him to score Corpse Bride and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on the same day. Elfman said he spent a full year “essentially shuttling up and back between writing and producing for both films simultaneously, kind of like a ping-pong ball.”

3. DEPP DEVELOPED HIS CHARACTER’S PERSONA IN ABOUT 15 MINUTES FLAT.

As Depp recalls in the video above, Burton approached him one day on the set of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and said, “Hey, I’ve got this other thing, Corpse Bride. Maybe you could look at it.” Depp read the script and loved it immediately—however, he assumed that he wouldn’t start working on the animated feature for another couple of months. “So you can imagine my surprise,” Depp said, “when … Tim arrives on the set [one day] and says ‘Hey, maybe tonight we’ll record some of Corpse Bride.’” At that point, Depp hadn’t given any thought whatsoever to how he’d portray Victor or what made the bridegroom tick. On their way to the recording booth, the actor sat Burton down and “grilled him for 15 minutes.” In that crucial quarter of an hour, Depp devised an entire set of mannerisms and motivations for Victor.

4. THE CHARACTER DESIGNS WERE ADAPTED FROM TIM BURTON’S ROUGH SKETCHES.

In 2003, Burton approached Spanish artist Carlos Grangel with a copy of the Corpse Bride script and some illustrations of the main characters that the director himself had drawn. “Here are my sketches,” Burton told Grangel. “I want you to push them and explore every character.” The final designs Grangel came up with did not depart significantly from Burton’s original drawings.

By the way, you might have noticed that Victor—Corpse Bride’s protagonist—looks an awful lot like the actor who voiced him: Johnny Depp. Burton swears this was coincidental. Speaking at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2005, the director said that the characters were all designed “long before” any of the voice actors were cast. In Burton’s words, when Depp signed on, “We felt like it was such good karma because [Victor] did resemble Johnny.”

5. HELENA BONHAM CARTER HAD TO WAIT TWO WEEKS FOR BURTON TO TELL HER SHE HAD BEEN CAST.

Among Corpse Bride’s primary cast members, Helena Bonham Carter—Burton's then-romantic partner and the voice of the title character—was the only one who had to audition for her role. She has stated that it took Burton two weeks to inform her that she’d gotten the gig, though the co-director has waved off this allegation. “Oh, I think she's an actress so she is making it much more dramatic," the director said. "There was probably a slight little bit of torture there, but it's a two way street. I don't think it was as dramatic as that."

6. THE 30 PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS WERE BROUGHT TO LIFE WITH 300 PUPPETS.

These were crafted by MacKinnon and Saunders, a puppet-making company based in Manchester, England. (Over the years, their team has worked on such other projects as Fantastic Mr. Fox and TV’s Bob the Builder.) For the 30 main players in Corpse Bride’s story, a grand total of 300 puppets were built—the most expensive of which commanded a $30,000 price tag. The group included 14 individual Emily models and a dozen Victors. As producer Allison Abbate revealed in the clip above,the puppets “were constantly being refurbished and changed out” during the production.

7. THE PUPPETS’ HEADS WERE CONTROLLED WITH MINUTE GEARS AND KEYS.

Before this movie came along, the facial movements of characters in stop motion films were generally manipulated with replaceable heads or mouths. However, Corpse Bride relied on a newer technique which had previously been reserved for a handful of TV commercials. The method relied on sophisticated puppet heads filled with tiny gears, a system Burton likened to the inside of a Swiss watch. Miniscule keys are then built to fit into the ears of a character, or the back of its head. By inserting and twisting these, an animator can incrementally change the character’s expression.

“[This technique] enables us to get much more expressive performances than you could with replacement animation," Johnson told VFXWorld Magazine. "Little paddles and gears allow us to get the tiny increments. Put an Allen key inside an ear and Victor smiles; put it inside the other ear and he frowns.”

8. THE BRIDE’S VEIL WAS ESPECIALLY HARD TO ANIMATE.

Emily, the Corpse Bride, makes a grand entrance. “When she gently takes off her veil and we see her for the first time, it becomes a glamour-girl shot,” cinematographer Pete Kozachik observed. That particular garment proved to be one of the most complicated props in the entire film. Although Emily’s veil was computer-animated in some scenes, others called for it to be rendered with good, old-fashioned stop motion. This was no easy task. In the words of puppet fabrication supervisor Graham Maiden, “The most difficult thing was having Corpse Bride walk with a veil because it has to be transparent, it has to animate and it has to be very fluid … like it was under water.” After four months of research, the crew put together a transparent veil with nearly-invisible wires stitched into the fabric.

9. THERE'S A NOD TO RAY HARRYHAUSEN.

Arguably the patron saint of stop motion animation, Ray Harryhausen used the art form to breathe life into all manner of movie monsters. From 1959 to 1981, his rampaging dinosaurs, hissing hydras, and sword-fighting skeletons invaded cinemas all over the world. He also inspired an entire generation of artists and filmmakers—including Burton, who credits Harryhausen with kindling his lifelong passion for stop motion. At one point, the world-famous animator paid a visit to the set of Corpse Bride, where he received a hero’s welcome. “The day he came by, production sort of ground to a halt,” Johnson recalled. “Everyone had a chance to talk to him. It was amazing for all the animators.” The crew gave their idol an on-screen shout-out in the film; when Victor plays some light piano music right before he first meets Victoria, you can see Harryhausen’s last name engraved upon the instrument.

10. DANNY ELFMAN WAS ASKED TO PLAY BONEJANGLES AFTER NOBODY POPPED OUT AT THE AUDITIONS.

Without question, the jazziest song in Corpse Bride is an exposition number called “Remains of the Day.” Singing the ballad is Bonejangles, a one-eyed, big-jawed skeleton with a flair for the theatrical. As Elfman was writing the tune, he did so under the assumption that the character would have a rich, raspy voice. “We auditioned 25, 26, [or] 27 people at least,” Elfman said in the promotional video above, “and I recorded three different singers.” In the end, none of them sounded satisfactory to the creative team. Burton therefore gave the role of Bonejangles to Elfman himself. Because the character needed a gravelly voice, this job took a toll on the musician’s vocal cords. “Every time I did Bonejangles, I was hoarse for the rest of the day ... it was really brutal,” Elfman recalled.

11. CORPSE BRIDE WAS THE FIRST STOP MOTION MOVIE TO BE SHOT DIGITALLY.

Like every stop motion picture that had come before it, Corpse Bride was originally going to be shot on film. But then, a mere two weeks before production kicked off, a historic choice was made. At the suggestion of two VFX supervisors, the animation team explored the possibility of using digital cameras. As they soon discovered these newer devices would allow them to view the dailies immediately, the animators decided to shoot Corpse Bride digitally.

12. ELFMAN WROTE A SOLO SONG FOR VICTOR, WHICH WAS DELETED.

The number finds Victor yearning for his living bride-to-be from the land of the deceased. Titled “Erased,” this number was, well, erased from the score. Elfman says that it was omitted in order to reduce the film’s runtime. Apparently, “Erased” landed on the cutting room floor right before Depp began recording his lines—“probably much to his relief,” Elfman quipped. In 2010, a demo version of the song was included in a limited edition Elfman and Burton CD box set.

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25 Things You Might Not Know About Home Alone
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On November 16, 1990, what appeared to be a fun-filled little family yarn about a kid left to his own devices at Christmastime and forced to fend off a couple of bungling burglars, became an instant classic. Today, no holiday movie marathon is complete without a viewing of Home Alone, the movie that turned Macaulay Culkin into one of the biggest kid stars of all time. And while you may be able to recite its dialogue line for line, here are 25 things you might not know about the John Hughes-penned picture. So settle in and enjoy, ya filthy animals. 

1. WITHOUT UNCLE BUCK, THERE’D BE NO HOME ALONE.

The idea for Home Alone occurred to John Hughes during the making of Uncle Buck, which also starred Macaulay Culkin. Always game to play the precocious one, there’s a scene in which Culkin’s character interrogates a potential babysitter through a mail slot. In Home Alone, Culkin has a similar confrontation with Daniel Stern, this time via a doggie door.

2. THE ROLE OF KEVIN WAS WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY FOR MACAULAY CULKIN.

But that didn't stop director Chris Columbus from auditioning more than 100 other rascally pre-teens for the part. Which really was all for naught, as Culkin nailed the role.

3. MACAULAY WASN’T THE ONLY CULKIN TO APPEAR IN THE FILM.


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Macaulay;'s younger brother Kieran also landed a part as Kevin’s bed-wetting cousin, Fuller. Though the film marked Kieran’s acting debut, he has since gone on to build an impressive career for himself in movies like The Cider House Rules, Igby Goes Down, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

4. CASTING CULKIN TAUGHT CHRIS COLUMBUS A VERY IMPORTANT LESSON.

Since Home Alone, Columbus (who also wrote the scripts for Gremlins and The Goonies) has gone on to become one of Hollywood’s premier family-friendly moviemakers as the director of Home Alone 2, Mrs. Doubtfire, and two movies in the Harry Potter franchise. But one lesson he learned from Home Alone is that when you agree to work with a kid actor, you’re also agreeing to work with his or her family.

“I was much younger and I was really too naive to think about the family environment as well,” Columbus told The Guardian in 2013. “We didn't know that much about the family at the beginning; as we were shooting, we learned a little more. The stories are hair-raising. I was casting a kid who truly had a troubled family life.” In 1995, Culkin’s parents, who were never married, engaged in a very public—and nasty—legal battle over his fortune. 

5. THE FILM IS A GUINNESS WORLD RECORD HOLDER.

In its opening weekend, Home Alone topped the box office, making $17,081,997 in 1202 theaters. The movie maintained its number one spot for a full 12 weeks and remained in the top 10 until June of the following year. It became the highest grossing film of 1990 and earned a Guinness World Record as the highest-grossing live-action comedy ever domestically.

6. THE MOVIE’S UNPRECEDENTED SUCCESS LED TO ITS TITLE BECOMING A VERB.


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In his book The Big Picture: Who Killed Hollywood? And Other Essays, two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman admitted that the unexpected success of Home Alone contributed a new phrase to the Hollywood lexicon: to be Home Aloned, meaning that other films suffered at the box office because of Home Alone’s long and successful run. “More than one executive said to me, ‘My picture did 40, but it would have done 50 if it hadn’t been Home Aloned,’” wrote Goldman.

7. IT SPAWNED MORE THAN A SEQUEL.

While all of the main, original cast members reprised their roles for Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (with Columbus again directing a script by Hughes), the success of the original led to a full-on franchise, complete with four sequels, three video games, two board games, a novelization, and other kid-friendly merchandise (including the Talkboy). 

8. POLAND LOVES THE MCCALLISTERS.

Showings of Home Alone have become a Christmas tradition in Poland, where the film has aired on national television since the early 1990s. And its popularity has only increased. In 2011 more than five million people tuned in to watch it, making it the most watched show to air during the season. 

9. THE MCCALLISTER HOME HAS BECOME A MAJOR TOURIST ATTRACTION.


A Syn via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Located at 671 Lincoln Avenue in Winnetka, Illinois, the kitchen, main staircase, and ground-floor landing seen in the film were all shot in this five-bedroom residence. (The dining room and all other first-floor rooms, with the exception of the kitchen, were shot on a soundstage.) In 2012, John and Cynthia Abendshien, who owned the home when it was used as one of the film’s locations, sold the property for $1.585 million.

10. KEVIN’S TREE HOUSE WAS NOT PART OF THE DEAL.

Kevin’s backyard tree house was not originally part of the property. It was constructed specifically for the movie and demolished once filming ended. 

11. ALL OF THE FILM WAS SHOT IN THE CHICAGO AREA.

Though the main plot point is that that McCallister family is in Paris while Kevin’s back home in Illinois, the production was shot entirely within the Chicago area. The scenes supposedly set at Paris-Orly Airport were shot at O’Hare International Airport. And those luxurious business class seats they’re taking to Paris? Those were built on the basketball court of a local high school—the same school where the scene in which Kevin is running through a flooded basement was filmed (the “basement” in question was actually the school’s swimming pool). 

12. ROBERT DE NIRO TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF HARRY LIME.


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As did Jon Lovitz. Then Joe Pesci swept in and made the part his own. Bonus fun fact: The character is a slight homage to Orson Welles. (It was the name of Welles’ character in Carol Reed’s The Third Man.) 

13. JOE PESCI GOT ALL METHOD ON MACAULAY CULKIN.

In order to get the most authentic performance possible, Joe Pesci did his best to avoid Macaulay Culkin on the set so that the young actor would indeed be afraid of him. And no one would blame the young actor for being a bit petrified, as he still bears the physical scar from one accidental altercation. “In the first Home Alone, they hung me up on a coat hook, and Pesci says, ‘I’m gonna bite all your fingers off, one at a time,’” Culkin recalled to Rule Forty Two. “And during one of the rehearsals, he bit me, and it broke the skin.” 

14. PESCI WASN’T USED TO THE WHOLE “FAMILY-FRIENDLY” THING.

Considering that Pesci’s best known for playing the heavy in movies like Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and Casino, it’s understandable that he wasn’t quite used to the whole family-friendly atmosphere on the set of Home Alone—and dropped a few f-bombs as a result of that. Columbus tried to curb Pesci’s four-letter-word tendency by suggesting he use the word “fridge” instead. 

15. DANIEL STERN HAD A FOUR-LETTER WORD SLIP-UP, TOO.


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And it wasn’t cut out of the film. He utters the word “s***” when attempting to retrieve his shoe through the doggie door (look for it at the 55:27 mark on the DVD). 

16. IN REAL LIFE, HARRY AND MARV MAY NOT HAVE SURVIVED KEVIN’S ATTACK.

BB gun shots to the forehead and groin? A steaming hot iron and can of paint to the face? A flaming blowtorch to the scalp? The Wet Bandits endure an awful lot of violence at the hands of a single eight-year-old. So much so that neither one of them should have been walking—let alone conscious—by the end of the night. In 2012, Dr. Ryan St. Clair diagnosed the likely outcome of their injuries at The Week. While a read-through of the entire article is well worth your time, here are a few of the highlights: That iron should have caused a “blowout fracture,” leading to “serious disfigurement and debilitating double vision if not repaired properly.” And the blowtorch? According to Dr. St. Clair, “The skin and bone tissue on Harry's skull will be so damaged and rotted that his skull bone is essentially dying and will likely require a transplant.” 

17. THE ORNAMENTS THAT MARV STEPS ON WOULD CAUSE THE LEAST AMOUNT OF DAMAGE.

"Walking on ornaments seems pretty insignificant compared to everything else we've seen so far,” said Dr. St. Clair. “If I was Marv, I'd be more concerned about my facial fractures.” Fortunately, the "glass" ornaments in question were actually made of candy. (But just to be on the safe side, Stern wore rubber feet for his barefoot scenes.)

18. THE TARANTULA ON STERN’S FACE? YEP, THAT WAS REAL.


20th Century Fox

At one point, Kevin places a tarantula on Marv’s face. And it was indeed a real spider (Daniel Stern agreed to let it happen—but he’d only allow for one take). What wasn’t real? That blood-curdling scream. In order to not frighten the spider, Stern had to mime the scream and have the sound dubbed in later.

19. JOHN CANDY WRAPPED IN ONE DAY.

But what a long day it was: Twenty-three hours to be exact. Candy was a regular in many of John Hughes’ movies, and Gus Polinski—the polka-playing nice guy he plays in Home Alone—was inspired by his character in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. 

20. KEVIN’S OLDER SISTER IS A JUDO CHAMP.

Two years after appearing in Home Alone, Hillary Wolf—who played Kevin’s older sister Megan—landed the lead in Joan Micklin Silver’s Big Girls Don’t Cry… They Get Even. She also appeared in Home Alone 2, but hasn’t been seen on the big screen since. But there’s a good reason for her absence: In 1996 and 2000, she was a member of the Summer Olympic Judo team for the U.S. 

21. DON’T BOTHER TRYING TO FIND ANGELS WITH FILTHY SOULS.

The Jimmy Cagney-like gangster movie that Kevin channels as his inspiration throughout Home Alone? Don’t bother searching for it on eBay. It’s not real. Nor is its sequel, Angels With Even Filthier Souls, which is featured in Home Alone 2. 

22. OLD MAN MARLEY WASN'T IN THE ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY.

Kevin’s allegedly scary neighbor, who eventually teaches him the importance of family, wasn’t a character in the original script. He was added at the suggestion of Columbus, who thought the film could do with a stronger dose of sentimentality.

23. THE LYRIC OPERA OF CHICAGO BENEFITED FROM THE MOVIE’S SNOWFALL.

When filming of Home Alone wrapped, the production donated some of the artificial snow they had created (the stuff made from wax and plastic) to the Lyric Opera of Chicago. It has since been used in a number of their productions.

24. MARV WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE GOTTEN A SPINOFF.

Greg Beeman’s 1995 film Bushwhacked, which stars Daniel Stern as a delivery guy on the run after being framed for murder, was originally intended to be a spinoff of Home Alone. The storyline would have been essentially the same: after giving up a life of crime, Marv would have been framed for the same murder.

25. IF YOU BELIEVE THAT ELVIS IS STILL ALIVE, THEN YOU MIGHT BELIEVE THAT HE IS IN HOME ALONE.

No hit movie would be complete without a great little conspiracy theory. And in the case of Home Alone, it’s that Elvis Presley—who (allegedly?) died in 1977—makes a cameo in the film. Yes, that’s right. The King is alive and well. And making a living as a Hollywood extra.

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5 Things You Should Know About Chinua Achebe
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Often referred to as the “father of African literature,” author Chinua Achebe was born in Ogidi, Nigeria on this day in 1930. Though he passed away in 2013, Google is celebrating what would be his 87th birthday with a Google Doodle. Here are five things you should know about the award-winning writer.

1. HE HAD PLANNED TO BE A DOCTOR.

Though he was always an avid reader and began learning English at the age of eight, Chinua Achebe hadn’t always planned to become a beacon of the literary world. After studying at Nigeria’s prestigious Government College (poet Christopher Okigbo was one of his classmates), Achebe earned a scholarship to study medicine at University College in lbadan. One year into the program he realized that writing was his true calling and switched majors, which meant giving up his scholarship. With financial help from his brother, Achebe was able to complete his studies.

2. JOYCE CARY’S MISTER JOHNSON INSPIRED HIM TO WRITE, BUT NOT IN THE WAY YOU MIGHT THINK.

While storytelling had long been a part of Achebe’s Igbo upbringing in Nigeria, that was only part of what inspired him to write. While in college, he read Mister Johnson, Irish writer Joyce Cary’s tragicomic novel about a young Nigerian clerk whose happy-go-lucky demeanor infects everyone around him. While TIME Magazine declared it the “best book ever written about Africa,” Achebe disagreed.

“My problem with Joyce Cary’s book was not simply his infuriating principal character, Johnson,” Achebe wrote in Home and Exile. “More importantly, there is a certain undertow of uncharitableness just below the surface on which his narrative moves and from where, at the slightest chance, a contagion of distaste, hatred, and mockery breaks through to poison his tale.” The book led Achebe to realize that “there is such a thing as absolute power over narrative,” and he was inspired to take control of it to tell a more realistic tale of his home.

3. HE DIDN’T THINK THAT WRITING COULD BE TAUGHT.

Though he studied writing, Achebe wasn’t all too sure that he learned much about the art in college. In an interview with The Paris Review, he recalled how the best piece of advice he had ever gotten was from one of his professors, James Welch, who told him, “We may not be able to teach you what you need or what you want. We can only teach you what we know.”

I thought that was wonderful. That was really the best education I had. I didn’t learn anything there that I really needed, except this kind of attitude. I have had to go out on my own. The English department was a very good example of what I mean. The people there would have laughed at the idea that any of us would become a writer. That didn’t really cross their minds. I remember on one occasion a departmental prize was offered. They put up a notice—write a short story over the long vacation for the departmental prize. I’d never written a short story before, but when I got home, I thought, Well, why not. So I wrote one and submitted it. Months passed; then finally one day there was a notice on the board announcing the result. It said that no prize was awarded because no entry was up to the standard. They named me, said that my story deserved mention. Ibadan in those days was not a dance you danced with snuff in one palm. It was a dance you danced with all your body. So when Ibadan said you deserved mention, that was very high praise.

I went to the lecturer who had organized the prize and said, You said my story wasn’t really good enough but it was interesting. Now what was wrong with it? She said, Well, it’s the form. It’s the wrong form. So I said, Ah, can you tell me about this? She said, Yes, but not now. I’m going to play tennis; we’ll talk about it. Remind me later, and I’ll tell you. This went on for a whole term. Every day when I saw her, I’d say, Can we talk about form? She’d say, No, not now. We’ll talk about it later. Then at the very end she saw me and said, You know, I looked at your story again and actually there’s nothing wrong with it. So that was it! That was all I learned from the English department about writing short stories. You really have to go out on your own and do it.

4. HE WAS WARY OF MACHINES.

Though typewriters, followed by computers, were ubiquitous, Achebe preferred a “very primitive” approach. “I write with a pen,” he told The Paris Review. “A pen on paper is the ideal way for me. I am not really very comfortable with machines; I never learned to type very well. Whenever I try to do anything on a typewriter, it’s like having this machine between me and the words; what comes out is not quite what would come out if I were scribbling. For one thing, I don’t like to see mistakes on the typewriter. I like a perfect script. On the typewriter I will sometimes leave a phrase that is not right, not what I want, simply because to change it would be a bit messy. So when I look at all this … I am a preindustrial man.”

5. HIS DEBUT NOVEL REMAINS ONE OF THE MOST TAUGHT PIECES OF AFRICAN LITERATURE.

Achebe’s status as the “father of African literature” is no joke, and it’s largely due to his debut novel, Things Fall Apart. Published in 1958, the book—which follows the life of Okonkwo, an Igbo leader and wrestling champion—has gone on to sell more than 10 million copies and has been translated into 50 different languages. Even today, nearly 60 years after its original publication, it remains one of the most taught and dissected novels about Africa.

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