Monday, October 11, 2010

naipaul returns to africa -- a rude review from the uk times

oct 10th, 2010


Similarly, Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, born in Trinidad in 1932, knight of the realm, laureate of the Nobel Prize for Literature, might also have questioned himself in 2008 as he prepared to leave for Uganda and other African countries, West and South, unifying his peregrinations under the vague subtitle "Glimpses of African belief". In fact, the comparisons with Waugh don't need to end there: it's an interesting thought-experiment to look at the two writers' careers and to consider V. S. Naipaul as a kind of Caribbean Waugh. Both were precocious schoolboys who won scholarships to Oxford. Waugh was a distinctively small man – so is Naipaul: both around five foot, six inches. Both took bad degrees and in the doldrums of their post-Oxford lives half-heartedly attempted suicide (Waugh by drowning, Naipaul by gassing). Their early novels were brilliantly original comic satires before the later work assumed more gravitas and the humour diminished. And in their personas, also, both men reinvented themselves in early middle age and took to wearing masks, masks that eventually "ate into the face". In these masks they delighted in expressing outrageous, unfashionable, ultra-right-wing opinions and the more the metropolitan intelligentsia howled and railed at them the more gleeful they were. Both men, late in their lives, went to Africa to write a travel book.

1 comment:

Ghost Writer said...

I have pre-ordered this book (to be released in Canada only on Oct 21), so I will reserve judgement. But a couple of things stick out with this review

1- it could be argued that “V. S. Naipaul” was in fact made by his serious reportage, more than his novels
err ... argued by whom exactly? In the middle of his career Naipaul felt the novel had limitations and came out with a whole new literary form. But that does not mean he stopped doing the novel well ..... consider "Half a Life"

2 Naipaul, considered as novelist alone – as the author of such novels as The Mystic Masseur, The Mimic Men, A House for Mr Biswas, and Guerrillas
The reviewer is a writer of "African novels" - but curiously forgets to mention that other master piece - "A Bend in the River".

This Boyd fellow is true to the western "liberals" stripe - I think he opposed the legal prosecution of that child rapist Roman Polaski. Naipaul is the scourge of these self-styled "liberals".

Here is someone else who damns him with faint praise

I am most interested to know what Naipaul thinks are South Africa's chances - I have more or less given up on the rest of Africa. The continent may be doomed to being a resource colony for the Hans