Books. Also: Also: Also. V. S. Naipaul. Authors. Bruce King. Textbook. Part of the Macmillan Modern Novelists book series (MONO). Download book PDF. Chapters Table of contents (9. V.S. NAIPAUL'S FICTIOH, FRAGMENTATION & ROOTLESSNESS. In this book, Naipaul seems to have exhausted his West Indian viewpoint and.
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V. S. Naipaul Second EditionBruce King V. S. NAIPAUL Other books by the author Modern Indian Poetry in English (se. PDF | Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad (V.S. Naipaul) was born in Trinidad in In The New York Review of Books, Naipaul has been called '”a master of English. In the "brilliant novel" (The New York Times) V.S. Naipaul takes us deeply into the life of one Sign up. Get news about Literary Fiction books, authors, and more.
As Biswas discovers when he attempts to find employment or build his house, freedom can be dangerous, humiliating and self-defeating. His novels, such as Guerrillas and In a Free State, reveal a dislike of white liberals interfering in, and romanticizing, other societies, about which they know little and from which they can safely flee the consequences of their interference. He was increasingly dependent on Pat, who kept calm and carried on, offering him in equal measure money, practical advice, encouragement, and rebuke, but all the while firmly expressing her love. Romantic love is a luxury of the rich white. Product Details. Except for a few details, there is little that is specifically of London about the novel. His garden is a way to work off the energy.
Indian attitudes are often playfully present in the stories. British social comedy is tinged by Hindu notions of caste and fate. Some stories have allusions to or quotations from the calypsos.
Originally from Trinidad, the calypso is brutal in its comments on topical events. The difference between the calypso and the newer Soca a mixture of calypso and black American soul music is that the former gives priority to the words and is satiric, the latter to music and is for dancing.
Naipaul has often written with approval of the direct honesty of Trinidadian discussion of such matters as race 32 V. Naipaul when he was younger. Like the Calypsonian he observes and comments without sentimental illusions. The calypsos are also social history and are used, along with references to films, cricket matches and well-known events to create a record of Trinidad for a decade from the late s until after the war.
Approximately twelve years pass; the boy narrator is eight years old at the start and over eighteen at the conclusion. At the start Trinidad is a colony dependent on England, then the war brings the Americans with their money, new kinds of social relations, attitudes, jobs; next come elections and talk of independence. There are two frames of reference: Such use of an outside, European historical frame of reference was common to many works of fiction of the late colonial and early independence period when writers had both to put local society on the literary map and to relate its chronology to what foreign readers would know.
Later writers would no longer feel that such a broad perspective was necessary. They had become more confident that readers were interested in fiction told from a Trinidadian, Indian or African angle; the former colonies had become less marginal to modern history. The stories allude to a time when Trinidad was important for its plantations, a former economy which is recalled by the remains of decaying buildings.
Miguel Street consists of memories of a lost childhood homeland. Nostalgia is the usual subject matter of the first book of an expatriate colonial writer. They show why it was necessary to leave and remain away from home.
The developing perspective of the boy narrator as he grows up shows his understanding that a period of his life has ended, the secure world he knew has fragmented; Hat, his adult mentor the substitute father figure in the stories , has aged, become crazed for a woman, been jailed and broken.
If the narrator does not leave Trinidad he will become another failure like those he admired. Even the Americans have departed, packed up their base and left, taking with them the money, attitudes and new opportunities which became available during the war years. It is easier to blame the imperial powers or racial discrimination or Trinidadian corruption than to accept past foolishness and failures of character.
Particularly in politics, there is a misfit between liberal notions of representation and decolonization and the realities of society in a late colonial or newly independent state. In The Mystic Masseur and The Suffrage of Elvira politics are a vehicle for Trinidadian Hindus to become part of a larger national society; but the politics are for personal gain and advancement rather than those of social justice, ethnic dignity and independence.
In The Mystic Masseur Pundit Ganesh moves easily through various roles and careers as is fitting to someone who is part of, and representative of, a larger cultural change which the Indians share with the other Trinidadians as the island evolves towards independence.
But there are the resulting incongruities as an unsuccessful Hindu masseur becomes, through the study of modern psychology, a rich successful medicine man for the black Trinidadians and then a leading national politician who is eventually knighted by the British. Throughout the novel we are made aware of the contrast between the Hindu notion of karma or fate which Ganesh claims to follow and the stubbornness and cunning of his personality.
The cultural confusion he represents is echoed in the various ways his tale could 34 V. Naipaul be told — as an illustration of fate or as a New World version of the European novel of personal will, ambition and success. Narayan in its speed, economy, understated satiric ironies, incongruities, comedy, undeveloped characterization, and unexpected changes in the direction of the plot, contrasts between what is said and done, parody and the ironic placing of characters by a few details of the scene or by habits of speech.
The narration is tinged with small as well as larger ironies. Within a few words three topics are quietly ridiculed, the courses taken in colleges of education, blackboard training and the improbability that practising on small select classes will prepare teachers.
A few pages later we see the reality of local education: He brings together characteristics of various political leaders. It was a transitional period of flamboyant personalities rather than party organization and ideologies. These were the first elections to the legislature by universal adult suffrage, in contrast to appointed representatives. It was also a period when Trinidadian politics were notably corrupt and when some of the politicians were intellectuals who had studied in England: Indarsingh travelled about with his own blackboard and a box of coloured chalks, illustrating his arguments with diagrams.
Children liked him. British political culture is seen as absurd in Trinidad when at the time, , there was no strong sense of nationhood, little education, little political discussion, no political ideals or policies. Ganesh is an Indian version of Man-man, the unemployed, apparently untalented, marginal man who finds a career and employment first in religion and then as a leader of the people.
His method is to invert and treat ironically what influences and concerns him. If The Mystic Masseur is a parody bildungsroman and a mock autobiography of a hero of the people, behind it is a sense of hurt. Trinidad is an impoverished colony where Hinduism decayed to a crude sense of ethnicity without any understanding of its philosophy and rituals.
The black community, as represented by Mr Primrose, mimics white British behaviour to absurd extremes and seeks signs of racial prejudice. This is a marooned, impoverished, disorganized, neglected colonial society which has been given a gift of elections. Ganesh may be laughed at as he becomes G. Ramsay Muir but he is offered sympathetic interest, and his ability to remain independent and rise above circumstances is admirable. By contrast Indarsingh is treated with scorn.
Naipaul admires those who manage to succeed, 36 V. Naipaul those who seize the time and make use of opportunities. Better that than fail and make excuses.
Ganesh is the self-made hero of the classic nineteenth-century novel treated in terms of a backward society which offers few chances for advancement. Ganesh breaks all the rules, refuses to marry the woman his father chooses, quits his job as schoolteacher, and has a strong sense of himself as different and ordained for something larger than what is available in contemporary Trinidad.
While it takes years for him to find a role, first as mystic masseur, then as politician, he is shrewd. He humiliates Ramlogan into paying for his survival until he can find a way to advance himself. Later, as a famous mystic he will control a fleet of taxis and a restaurant and receive part of the profits from materials sold to be used in rituals. He instinctively realizes that books and a general education will enable him to fulfil his ambitions. He uses his reading in psychology and self-salesmanship to cure his patients.
He not only makes himself, continually rewriting his history and taking new names and careers, he brings together the symbols and knowledge of the various cultures of Trinidad — Hindu, Muslim, Christian, modern, traditional.
He even uses, according to circumstance, English, dialect, Hindi and a bit of Spanish. He offers an ironic, Trinidadian version of a rags-to-riches story. He is a hero of the people, an example of a people, especially Trinidadians of the Indian diaspora, remaking themselves, in ways that are necessarily crude, brutal, comic. The tone of the novel mixes attitudes of distaste, understanding, enjoyment, wonder and acceptance along with amusement.
Throughout the novel there are allusions to writing, books, book reviews and printing. No sooner does he write an autobiography than he suppresses it and abandons writing to pursue his political career.
While at various stages in his life he uses narrative to make sense of himself and history, the lack of vocation and dedication leads him elsewhere. The first novel sketches in the social history of Trinidad The Suffrage of Elvira 37 through the s and s until the first election in under universal adult franchise.
Ganesh is representative of the first generation of politicians, flamboyant individuals lacking political parties and organizations. The buying of blocks of votes from leaders of ethnic communities, the paying for funerals, food and drinks, was common practice in Trinidad at the time when Port of Spain was known as the Sodom and Gomorrah of West Indian politics.
Naipaul treats similar themes and portrays a similar process but his manner is amusement at the social comedy. On the basis of what he had learned about human nature within his large Indian family he did not expect anything better to come from the political process, and he has learned to hide his personal wounds. It is this scepticism that distinguishes The Suffrage of Elvira from such a work as V. New Day is a nationalist novel told in Jamaican English which views elections as a step towards independence.
Naipaul treats the granting of political power as something the British wanted. The Suffrage of Elvira is set in an isolated, neglected region, with a large Indian population, rather than the more politically active black community of urban Port of Spain. Blacks are not central to the novel and the politics are between individuals who are supposedly leaders of the Hindu and Muslim-Indian communities.
There is no criticism of British rule by the narrator or his characters, no overt ideological position; although there is the implicit one that British electoral processes are a mimicry of alien practices in such a community.
The novel shows what Naipaul in A Middle Passage describes as a picaroon society, a society without fixed rules in which humiliations and advancement are often rapid and seemingly arbitrary, in which life can be brutal and in which there are no ethical standards and cunning and conning are accepted and admired.
It is assumed that bribery and seeking personal advantage is an accepted way of life. At the school polling station the clerk subjects the voters to long delays until Harbans gives him ten dollars. At the conclusion the winners and losers are what individuals have gained and lost in relation to each other in the course of events connected to the election: The novel portrays a people uninterested in ideas.
We see a population so uneducated and ignorant that they need to be taught how to make an X on their ballot papers. Many changes in voting are influenced by superstition. Candidates have no policies, represent no ideologies or classes.
The incongruities of applying foreign notions to such a society can be seen in various incongruities of speech and action. Now that Harbans is benefiting from his position on the Council, as shown by his double-breasted grey suit and new Jaguar, everyone wants some immediate personal benefit, some reward.
Character is fixed. Even at the end of the novel Baksh whose name represents a bribelike gift finds new ways to get money from Harbans. By contrast, Chittaranjan, the one character to have dignity, is so true to his The Suffrage of Elvira 39 old-fashioned Hinduism that he gains nothing from the election and accepts without question that his daughter being seen briefly one night with a Muslim has sullied her reputation, which allows Harbans to get out of the agreement that his son will marry the daughter.
So much for the promises of elected politicians! But that, Naipaul accepts, is the way of the world, especially in Trinidad. Much of the novel is amusing social or literary comedy. The Suffrage of Elvira has a complicated plot, cluttered with incidents and many intertwined stories.
While this is characteristic of the community plot developed around a specific situation, such as an election, that is common to novels in the early stages of decolonization, Naipaul is not at ease with the form. Such novels are usually an affirmation of communal values, a subculture or a colonized people — and their portrayal of a people is a political assertion.
Here is an unhomogeneous assortment of peoples and cultures with nothing more in common than getting what they can out of a situation. They will be more Shakespearean in examining character within a society than a Ben Jonson Carnival with its whirl of many characters and multiplying plots.
Naipaul the incongruities of colonial Trinidad: With Biswas the comedy will be touched by anger, involvement, remembered scars. There will be less distance and pretence of amused detachment. Although the manner remains comic, Naipaul develops some of the major themes that will recur in his fiction and which might be described as his vision of life. Biswas has become mentally unstable through undernourishment, solitude and the harshness of his life.
Abandoned by his family, trapped in a loveless marriage, poor and unable to get a foot up the ladder of life, Biswas fears being murdered by the resentful estate workers he supervises; his angry, irrational behaviour towards his wife is the start of a nervous breakdown.
Besides being threatened by the workers Biswas is also threatened by the natural world. A terrible storm begins. Winged ants invade the house, bite Anand and soon die.
A column of fire ants appears and soon captures and carts off the winged ants. Anand hears human voices outside the house which he and his father think are those of the dismissed workers planning to harm them. The wind and torrential rain worsen; the roof shakes; some of the corrugated 41 42 V. Naipaul sheets are torn off or flap dangerously. The house seems likely to collapse. Anand screams and screams as the wind sweeps through the now floorless, wall-less house until he sees a man carrying a hurricane lamp and a cutlass.
He is a labourer from the barracks looking for a lost calf.
The biblical echoes are less of the rainbow after the flood than a return to the beginning of time before the creation, an unmaking, a decreation, of the protection, comforts and order offered by civilization and society. In the Green Vale chapter the protections of society are removed until Biswas and Anand are isolated, helpless against the violence of others and the natural world. They are reduced to the condition of the insects who are defenceless against the attack of organized groups of other insects.
Nature is uncaring, dangerous; life is short; creatures are naturally at war with each other and protected only by being part of a community.
The void is in his mind, a kind of insanity in which his selfhood and individuality are lost. The stripping away of the physical comforts and protections of civilization results in a loss of rationality, humanity, other kinds of consciousness than fear. He is metamorphosed into something primitive, subhuman. Although supposedly a rationalist he chants a mantra for protection. Such fears have now been transmitted to his son.
The world is without purpose, violent, dangerous; in the natural world life is fearful, comfortless, irrational and brutal. Creatures organize societies for self-protection, they cooperate to assure essentials such as food and to build homes for comfort and refuge.
While the effectiveness of societies to provide for their members differs, anyone outside society is likely to become a victim of the void. Well-organized societies with large resources and the ability to use their resources are most likely to resist extinction and to provide superior opportunities for their citizens.
Achievement, whether through writing, building A House for Mr Biswas 43 or empire, is a way of leaving a mark on history, a way of avoiding annihilation and the void; it is a way of becoming more than the short-lived flying ant carried away for food by the fire ants. Biswas brings to mind Lear, unhoused, rejected by his family, alone with the Fool, unprotected from the violence of nature. Both the novel and the play are about individuals who thought they could stand on their own and find that once they are unhoused, powerless, outside society, madness follows.
Throughout the novel there are literary echoes which foreshadow the parallels of the storm scene. The prologue concludes: Naipaul Naipaul builds his fiction on models and the Lear model helps him to universalize his story and contributes to the metaphysical dimension of the novel in which nature is treated as alien, uncaring, and in which people must existentially create their own significance by their actions.
The parallels recall in King Lear the importance of society, of nurture as opposed to raw nature. This provides a perspective on such themes in the novel as the need for education, civilization, achievement, rationality and charity love of others; helping others. The family drama is also universalized. History becomes a story of blind, self-destructive, angry fathers, misjudged children and the need for love, for emotional as well as material protection.
Just as an individual cannot prosper without a supporting society, so art needs foundations in earlier art. Just as it is impossible for Biswas to find the resources to build a house in his circumstances in Trinidad, so he lacks suitable literary models. He reads books on self-improvement that have no relevance to his life, he hears avant garde poetry of a complexity that he cannot master and which is foreign to his circumstances.
There is a radical difference between King Lear and Mr Biswas. Rather than a king foolishly giving away his power and possessions, Biswas is poor, without social position and has no possessions. They are part of his allusive ironies. The ironies insist upon the differences between societies he writes about and the societies of his literary models. That he dies unemployed, with the badly built house mortgaged and two of his children in foreign lands, shows that his world is still only partly ordered, and that the disorder that began with the immigration of indentured Indian labour to Trinidad is still in process, the journey still unfinished, the diaspora still unsettled.
The material conditions are different, there is no house or national cultural tradition to inherit. Biswas could be read as an allegory of the painful progress of the major group among the Trinidadian Indians, Hindu northern Indians, to build a house on an island which still feels alien, unwelcoming and without the likely materials for a home. Each house Biswas inhabits, builds or owns is figurative of the condition of his situation and that of the Trinidadian Indians of the time.
They range from the enclosed security of Hanuman House, the village shops in which the owners live, the unfinished attempts to build simple houses in the country to the half-modern, partly owned house of Sikkim Street. Biswas provides a social history of the community. Brought to Trinidad as indentured labourers to replace the freed black slaves, the Indians were isolated, worked on the sugar cane estates, reformed their traditional culture, even reconstituting castes, pinched pennies to purchase small plots of farming land and became owners of rum shops and small general stores.
Later, some invested in taxicabs, became merchants or became wealthy when oil deposits were found on their land. It was not until the Second World War, when Americans built a national highway, that there were sufficient new opportunities, new money and modern roads for the Indians to move from the country to Port of Spain and begin their still uneasy accommodation with the urban, predominantly black and mixed creole population.
As Trinidad moved towards selfgovernment, education became important; there were new, if limited, opportunities for employment. At first there was little education available to Indians. Rural schools could not prepare pupils for the entrance examination to the secondary schools in Port of Spain. Only Port of Spain offered proper tuition for the examinations. Urban whites and blacks were better placed to use education for advancement. The history of the Trinidadian Asian Indian could be put together from aspects of his life and the lives of those to whom he was related by birth and marriage.
Yet no one single character in the novel can be said to be typical of the Trinidadian Indian; Naipaul avoids the simplifications, falsifications and dishonest sentimentality of protest fiction with its typical characters and illustrative plots supposedly representative of a community.
Lives, situations and people differ. Some have luck, others do not. Some destroy their chances, others seize the day. Biswas foolishly marries and becomes a Tulsi, losing the favour of his rich aunt Tara; this becomes an opportunity for the children of another relative. Impoverished, living in rural Trinidad, Biswas could never be an inventor; there would not be the materials, the books, the supporting culture and opportunities. He could not be a writer. He would not be familiar with contemporary models, have other writers to help him or have access to a market.
Biswas lives in an impoverished colonial society in which most people do not read, education is not easily available, English is not always used for conversations, literary models come from abroad and are inappropriate for local society. Literature, therefore, seems dead, part of the European past.
There is little literary culture in which to learn, develop or operate. When Biswas attempts to write fiction he cannot imagine using his own life as material, unlike Anand who, ignoring the British examples of what a day at the seashore should be like, writes an excellent composition at school describing the time he almost drowned at the beach.
Instead Biswas writes and rewrites a fantasy about not being married and loving a young, thin woman who is unable to have children; literature for him is the opposite of his actual life. Significantly he writes two versions of the story, one with a white handsome hero, the other with an unattractive brown or Indian male character. Since the novels he reads are often romances about white handsome Englishmen and since he lives in a culture in A House for Mr Biswas 47 which to be white and English is to be superior, his imagination follows such conventions.
When he writes of Indians he sees ugliness, his own condition; there is as yet no local literary tradition which will show him how to write realistically about someone like himself.
But he is also the equivalent of the orphan or fatherless hero of the European novel who comes to the capital city to conquer. Biswas wants to impress, to achieve, to make his mark on the world, to rise above his birth and circumstances. Through will, chance and changing circumstances his life has evolved from homelessness, dependency on others, poverty, lack of a recognized place in the world his birth was not even officially recorded to a homeowner, head of a family, a father with two children who are studying abroad.
He has created a place for himself in the new world in contrast to the futile poverty to which he appeared destined as a child. The novel is a celebration of his achievement and the achievement of the Trinidadian Indian. It is an amusing diminuation of the epic, similar to what Joseph Fielding understood when he justified the novel, then a new literary kind, as a comic epic in prose.
At times Biswas has luck. Such chance encounters are important to Biswas and more likely in the city than the country. Lives are limited by 48 V.
Naipaul circumstance, they are also willed. Naipaul claims that the European novel is about will and achievement in contrast to traditional Indian fatalism and passivity. Their traditional Indian philosophy is suitable for the bare survival offered by the rural impoverished life they know.
But when the family falls apart and Biswas is on his own, except for the help of his aunt Tara, he must strive to survive, unlike his mother who depressively comments that perhaps it would be better if he killed himself.
The Tulsi family into which he marries appears to offer protection. Hanuman House is initially described as looking like a fortress; but Hanuman House is not a solid society. It is a temporary refuge for those by circumstances or personality unable to find a place in Trinidad.
The makeshift, temporary nature of this small enclosed, self-protective community is revealed by its rapid disintegration, when the war brought more opportunities for Indians to acquire the skills and means to enter the wider community. It was for Biswas a longdrawn-out time of futile rebellion, of not knowing what to do, before his journey to Port of Spain, a place where there were better opportunities for employment, a chance to make his mark on the world and save money to buy a house.
Naipaul associates rural life with poverty and the city with opportunity.
Without money, power, skills or available employment for which he could develop skills, his Westernized sense of self, of individuality, was bound to be frustrated.
He can only be an absurd rebel, someone who attempts to paddle his own canoe without a canoe or water. And, of course, he is partly to blame. He becomes intoxicated by love and foolishly marries. When he does not demand a dowry for his marriage and does not have the strength of character to demand that the Tulsis provide him with a future career, he ruins his chances with his aunt Tara. Fearing humiliation, not knowing where to turn for guidance, he trusts appearances, even buying the Sikkim Street house without properly examining it or comparing it with what else he could purchase for the same price.
He is an impoverished West Indian version of the modern rebel. The first part of the novel shows such rebellion is futile for those still in the condition of near slavery without means of self-support. Biswas can only taunt and insult those upon whom he is dependent. Tulsi House is a hierarchical feudal society with Mrs Tulsi and her two sons, the royalty. Although suitable roles are found for those who conform, such as Hari who becomes family priest and pundit, everyone except the mother and her two sons are treated as dependants.
Just the way the Indians of Trinidad tried to reconstruct a social order of caste and such customs as the thread ceremony and arranged marriages in the New World only to find them challenged as, for example, by the way Ramchand goes to Port of Spain and prospers or incongruous, so Hanuman House is an attempt at preserving orthodoxy built on unorthodox foundations. It provides temporary security at the cost of denying Western individuality and will. Afterwards everyone will be part of the individualistic, competitive new world in which advancement often depends upon educational qualifications, personal will and the willingness to take chances.
The fragmentation of the Tulsis into nuclear families, each with its own house, is also, as shown in the novel, the beginning of a process of social transformation in which there will be more intermarriages between Hindus and Christians, friendships will be based on class and occupation rather than family, and children will go abroad for education and sometimes not return.
The temporary reconstructed rural traditional Indian Hindu world represented by the Tulsis has largely disappeared by the end of the novel but not been replaced with another ordered society. While Indians and creoles now live and work together there is little evidence from the novel of assimilation. Biswas portrays an impoverished, disorganized Trinidad and implicitly criticizes imperialism for having created such a mess in which those of African and Indian descent have been brought together without the resources to live or make better lives.
Naipaul is one of many writers from the former colonies who have criticized colonialism and who see their lands and people as victims of the Empire; he is not a simpleminded nationalist who believes that local 50 V.
Naipaul cultural assertion and cries of victimization will provide a solution to the problems left by history. Trinidad in Biswas lacks the resources required for authentic independence. As Biswas discovers when he attempts to find employment or build his house, freedom can be dangerous, humiliating and self-defeating. It is a version of the many late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century novels offering a fictionalized autobiography, a portrait of the artist as a young man, a remembrance of things past.
The novel has a double focus beginning with Biswas but is from the middle onwards increasingly split between father and son. Whenever Vidiadhar appears the narrator drops his distance: A House for Mr Biswas 51 Biswas is, among its varied themes, about becoming a writer and how the book itself came into being.
He keeps leaving unfinished a story which is about the life he wished he had. Anand, however, after he almost drowns, writes directly from his own experience: Naipaul, like Derek Walcott, often associates the sea with disorder, danger, the violence of nature and death.
His Caribbean is not an exotic paradise for tourists. Throughout the novel the reader is aware of the author as literary critic: He writes in his diary: His satirical sense kept him aloof … satire led to contempt, and … contempt, quick, deep, inclusive, became part of his nature.
It led to inadequacies, to self-awareness and a lasting loneliness.
Naipaul has said that his view of the world was formed while young, living in a large family. Naipaul is concerned to establish for the reader how this text came into existence, its basis in reality, and how Anand, the implied author, came into possession of the facts he recounts.
Just as the early eighteenth-century novel must establish its credentials as fictionalized truth rather than pure invention, lies so a novel about a previously unmapped social territory and people such as the Trinidad Indians must justify its authenticity. Naipaul needs to establish such confidence and seems to be uncomfortable with the distance between fiction and the reality of personal experience upon which it is based.
In his novels we are often aware of his conscious insertion of the narrator into the story, of his need to justify why what we are reading is there and how it came into being. Naipaul interpolates such information as Biswas telling the children about himself or Anand accidentally finding some old letters written to his mother.
In such an unsettled society, where the family has no records and lacks associations with the land, buildings, important events, achievements or a rooted community, history is a mystery which must be imagined from the little that is known, discovered or felt to be representative. It has become part of the new literary and cultural tradition of English and world literature. There is an explicit analogy between the order provided by houses and art.
While Anand is imagined writing the novel as a means of regaining the past, the reader understands Anand as figurative of Naipaul. In all the world there was no one else to whom he could complain … Anand said he wanted to come home ….
Biswas can be seen as layered upon an autobiographical foundation over which are the stories of Mr Biswas, the Tulsis, the Trinidadian Indians and even a record of change in Trinidad over the past fifty years, changes which are placed in the context of modern history. Naipaul Biswas is a carefully constructed novel. I have written in detail elsewhere about how artistic order is imposed through such techniques as a tightly controlled formal structure, parallel events, recurring images and phrases, even tightly knit rhetorical and sound patterns.
The novel has fifteen sections consisting of a prologue, an epilogue and a chronology which is divided into two parts of equal length, the first part of six sections, the second of seven sections.
The second half is mostly set in Port of Spain and shows the more exciting life and opportunities of the city; better jobs are available, the various races and cultures begin to mix, people are more in touch with and affected by the world outside Trinidad.
Time speeds up. The second half of that story has more continuity and development and involves the community when Man-man becomes a preacher and begins his imitation of Christ.
In both the story and the novel Naipaul makes use of parallel events and phrases between the two halves. Just as the epilogue recalls the prologue in scene, phrases and events, so many sections of the novel recall earlier pages. Indeed Biswas is, at the end of Part I, no better off than when he left his mother and started to seek employment.
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Read it Forward Read it first. Pass it on! Latin literature and even, when All the sections treat the theme of displacement in the neo-colonial world. In he dreams of retiring to one of the few cocoa estate houses remaining on the first story, 'One Out of Many', Santosh, a Bombay domestic, goes to Isabella, in the heyday of the plantocracy. Yet, from the outset, the voice of Washington with his diplomatic employer and finds himself lost in the 'capital Singh the narrator makes it clear that 'All landscapes turn eventually to land, of the world'r'" in 'Tell Me Who to Kill' two Trinidadian brothers are affected the gold of the imagination to the lead of reality.
The excerpts from the travel-journal centre initially degradation of the idea" '. Only writing appears to offer any release from the around an elderly English tramp, a self-styled 'citizen of the world! More complex than any of Naipaul's previous novels, The Mimic around the ultimate displaced character of Naipaul's fiction, the author Men ushered in a new period in his writing, in which there is a more overt himself.
Naipaul has confessed to being 'totally involved,36 in all the characters concern with imperialism and its latter-day consequences. The about the West Indies. The method he adopted was. III a Fr ,1! Andre Deutsch, Andre Deutsch , p IIi Guerrillas the treatment of Jimmy Ahmed is less geographical freedom of the tramp-of the Prologue renders him an outcast and concerned with the damage such a figure does to a certain section of society the reader is left feeling that his unrevealed crime may well be his failure to the'major emphasis in Naipaul's treatment of Malik than with his own belong, Santosh runs away from his employer, only to find he has exchanged personal tragedy.
The emphasis is shifted so that it falls mainly on Jimmy as a one kind of bondage for another, since he is now an illegal immigrant. In 'Tell displaced person, a typical Naipaul protagonist, trying, like Ralph Singh, to Me Who to Kill', the Trinidadian Indian narrator, nourished on Hollywood myths, devotes himself to furthering his younger brother's education in order his life through writing and also very close to Mr Biswas in his belief that '''men must claim their portion of the earth" '.
The others are his brother as. He is left with a desire to kill the 'enemy' who is the Jane, a middle-class Englishwoman who becomes involved. But no enemy is to be found. Once again Naipaul is has come to the island secure in her sense of being privileged and her dramatising the psychology of the colonial, who has been denied freedom by forces beyond his control.
And in the title-story Naipaul's English expatriates knowledge that she has a return air ticket,. Both characters provide case-studies in what Naipaul has Thus far, In a Free State follows the negative vision of Naipaul's earlier referred to, in his essay on Conrad, as the 'corruption of causes'. The relationship between fictional and non-fictional accounts is similar the flagellation. Subsequently he feels the act has been futile, but it has to that between 'The Killings in Trinidad' and Guerrillas.
It is well summed up demonstrated the extent of Naipaul's movement away from the inertia of the by Elaine Campbell who argues that 'a refinement of rage,43 takes place karma-psychology and the colonial mentality. Similarly, the more analytical between the writing of the essay, which is characterised by Naipaul's by now mode of In a Free State represents a development in Naipaul's approach and, in familiar dismissive approach to tbe Third World, and the novel, which is more concerned with the plight of individuals.
In both works the present the year of its publication,. However, whereas in 'A New King for and American quality press. Since its publication Naipaul has continued to engage in such journalistic multivalent image, relating to personal as well as social paralysis.
Both texts writing, but has preferred in-depth pieces which have sometimes furnished him show post-independence Africa as reverting back to the bush, after what the with the raw material for his fiction.
In he travelled to Trinidad to do novel calls 'the miraculous peace of the colonial time' ,45but in A Bend in the research for two long Sunday Times articles on the Abdul Malik 'Michael X' River, while the personal and the public cannot finally be separated from one killings in Trinidad38 and this material provided him with the germ for his next another, this situation is more the backcloth for another Naipaul study of novel Guerrillas , where Malik's career is paralleled by that of Jimmy individual displacement than the epicentre of the narrative.
Y There are, however, considerable differences between these two portraits of Guerrillas, London: Rivrr, 1. Commouweolth tIterature 14 1 Augus! It is hard to disagree with such fleeing from the East African coast, he has built up a business as a shopkeeper. Despite the considerable amount of penetrating first-hand Salim, like so many of the characters of Naipaul's later novels, emerges as a observation and analysis offered in the text, its point of view remains blinkered casualty of Empire, a man who finds himself running short of places which offer and guaranteed to reinforce Western prejudices.
The disenchanted polemical him a secure existence. Where he differs from many of these characters, stance is comparable with An Area of Darkness and India: A Wounded however, is in his capacity for pragmatic. All three works offer an account of how one of the world's great Naipaul has said that he chose the title of the novel for the 'uplift'?
But whereas the two while at first sight this remark may puzzle many readers, Salim's capacity to Indian books are written out of a passionate love-hate relationship with adapt and take a new direction, when his world falls apart at the end, does offer Hinduism and considerable knowledge of the culture, Among the Believers a more positive vision than Guerrillas. On the other hand the presentation of finally comes across as more of a tourist's-eye view, redeemed only by sensitive Africa in A Bend in the River is remorselessly negative.
While initially this volume may appear, like The has informed all his work. Finding the Centre is comprised of two very different Overcrowded Barracoon, simply to be a collection of Naipaul's journalism, in narratives: Yet it ultimately fails to offer piece about a recent journey to the Ivory Coast.
The two pieces have much in anything other than a leadership cult which can destroy leaders and followers common, for both-like so much of Naipaul's work-concern a quest for alike, while contributing nothing to the improvement of society. The essay on signification. The search for a centre comes to stand both for the attempt by Conrad places everything which has preceded it into context by focusing on marginalised countries and peoples to find order, and for the writer's search for Conrad's absorption with the forerunners of to day's Third World societies, the kernels of narrative which can express this predicament.
In his Foreword, juxtaposition of cultures and the 'corruption of causes'. In each of the previous Naipaul says 'both pieces are about the process of writing' and 'seek in different pieces there has been at least one reference to Conrad's work and now, in ways to admit the reader to that process'.
An Islamic Journey genesis and growth of his artistic impulse. Taken together these two recent He visited four non-Arab Muslim countries-Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia works provide a fitting climax to Naipaul's career so far. They show. The picture of contemporary Islam which emerges is for is-tetchy, alienated and elitist, yet unfailingly committed to documenting his the most part a negative one, characterised by confusion and contradiction. As in The Mimic Men, Naipaul suggests that it is paradoxical that Third World societies which reject the West nevertheless depend on it for its technology and material goods.
Related Papers. By John Thieme. Childhood and Memory. By DR. Naipaul - Childhood and Memory.