Naipaul, V. S.
V. S. Naipaul 1932-
Full name Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul. Trinidadian-born English novelist, short story writer, journalist, travel writer, essayist, and nonfiction writer. See also V. S. Naipaul Literary Criticism (Volume 4), and Volumes 7, 9, 105, 199.
Naipaul has earned a reputation as one of the most gifted prose stylists of the twentieth century as well as one of the most controversial critics of the effects of imperialism in the Third World. Employing a variety of literary idioms, from short stories to essays to mixed-genre pieces that blend autobiography, fiction, and journalistic reporting, Naipaul describes the bitter legacy of colonialism on personal and societal levels. The early novels and short stories, based loosely on his own experiences growing up in Trinidad, have been acclaimed for their narrative skill, colorful use of West Indian dialect, and wry humor as they express themes of individual rootlessness and cultural deprivation that are the effects of colonial history. The characters in his early short fiction are often depicted as alienated from the societies in which they are born, as they spend their lives trying to escape or to build a sanctuary they can call their own. Naipaul's later novels, historical essays, and social commentaries based on his extensive travels throughout Africa, Asia, South America, and the Carribean, continue to explore the relation of colonialism to the loss of cultural identity, but without the humor that was a hallmark of his earlier fiction writing. The later works, while being admired for their keen observation and clear descriptive style, have garnered intense criticism for their often bleakly negative appraisal of cultures ravaged by centuries of oppression, particularly by the people of the regions he describes. Naipaul has won numerous literary awards in Britain—including the Somerset Maugham Award, the Hawthornden Prize, and the Booker Prize—and his name repeatedly appears on lists of candidates for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Naipaul was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 1932, the second generation descendant of an East Indian grandfather who came to the West Indies in the early 1900s as an indentured laborer in the British colonial administration. Naipaul's love for and facility in the English language has been credited to his father, Seepersad Naipaul, a journalist and author of a collection of short stories exhibiting many of the themes of entrapment and alienation that also were themes in his son's fiction. Naipaul excelled in the colonial British school system in Trinidad, winning a scholarship in 1950 to study English at Oxford. After graduating in 1954, Naipaul became a writer and editor for the British Broadcasting Corporation program “Caribbean Voices,” where his earliest short stories about loneliness, the fear of existence, and the strains of changing cultural sensibilities were first broadcast. In 1955 he married Patricia Ann Hale, an Englishwoman. Around this time he began to write a series of short stories and character sketches based on his childhood in Trinidad, most of which were published in Miguel Street (1959), which won the 1961 Somerset Maugham Award, and A Flag on the Island (1967). In 1957 Naipaul published his first novel, The Mystic Masseur, a farce about a religious crank who attends to Trinidad's spiritual problems. This was followed in 1958 by the publication of The Suffrage of Elvira, which won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize for its comic portrayal of vote rigging in Trinidad. Although it won no literary awards, his third novel, A House for Mr. Biswas (1961), about a Trinidadian Hindu whose greatest desire is to own his own home, became the novel which would win Naipaul his greatest literary acclaim. The novel, which has elements of high comedy and tragic pathos, has become closely associated with Naipaul's own personal search for meaning and community despite the alienating effects of colonialism.
In the early 1960s Naipaul reviewed hundreds of books for The New Statesman and other publications, where he became known as an uncompromisingly harsh critic of most of his literary contemporaries. It was also during this period that Naipaul wrote his first two works of nonfiction. The Middle Passage (1962) and An Area of Darkness (1964) are both based on his travel to and observations of postcolonial conditions in the Caribbean, Africa, and India. His fiction writing continued to win critical acclaim for its forceful prose style: Naipaul received the Hawthornden Prize for Mr. Stone and the Knight's Companion (1964), the story of a Caribbean man living in England, and the Booker Prize for In a Free State (1971), a mixed-genre work that contains short fiction pieces dealing with the themes of alienation and exile as well as factual eyewitness accounts of postcolonial oppression and discrimination.
From the 1970s until the present Naipaul has continued to use travel as an inspiration for his nonfiction, producing works on, among other things, the character of Indian people in India: A Wounded Civilization (1977); the dangers of charismatic political leadership in The Return of Eva Perón (1980); Islamic fanaticism in the Middle East in Among the Believers (1981); the legacy of slavery in the United States in A Turn in the South (1989); and Islam in Southeast Asia in Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions among the Converted Peoples (1998). In all these works he positions himself as a stateless wanderer who uses a keen sense of observation to come to sometimes devastating conclusions about the possibility for Third World individuals and societies to rebuild themselves from the ruins of colonial administration. His fiction, notably in Guerillas (1975), A Bend in the River (1979), and A Way in the World (1994), combines autobiographical themes of his own search for identity and community with his more overarching themes of historical anarchy and chaos caused by colonialism. Naipaul was given a knighthood in 1990 for his literary achievements, and he continues to write fiction and nonfiction dealing with themes of rootlessness and exile from his home in London.
Major Works of Short Fiction
Naipaul has produced three volumes of short stories. In 1959 he published Miguel Street, a collection of character sketches he had finished writing several years earlier while working as a writer for “Caribbean Voices.” All the Miguel Street stories take place in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and are told from the perspective of a West Indian child who, like Naipaul, finally leaves the island to study abroad. Each short story (or chapter of what some commentators take to be a novella) tells the comic tale of an assortment of Trinidadian oddballs and misfits who desperately struggle to make their lives meaningful, but whose efforts are ultimately crushed by their own narrow connection to their environment and because of the chaos and squalor that surround them. The humorous dimensions of the stories, which reveal Naipaul's early sympathy with those struggling to fit into a world made miserable by ignorance and cultural depravity, are intensified with dramatic use of Caribbean dialect that masterfully brings the characters to life.
A Flag on the Island (1967), Naipaul's second volume of short stories, was collected from pieces written between 1950 and 1962; some had been published previously in English and American periodicals. Like the Miguel Street tales, most of the stories of A Flag on the Island take place in Trinidad and typically deal with a clash of values as local Trinidadians of Indian descent try in vain to structure their lives around a culture that is now far away and only dimly remembered. Other stories deal with the latent terror underlying seemingly ordinary lives of immigrants in London. While this collection again uses comic effect to intensify themes of alienation, failure, and racial discrimination, the general tone of the collection is much more bitter and pessimistic than that in Miguel Street.
In 1971 Naipaul attracted worldwide attention as well as heavy censure for his book In a Free State, which combined two autobiographical travel narratives based on experiences in Africa and the Caribbean with two short stories and a novella. The work treats the lives of immigrants as they try to assimilate to new environments, exploring the problems that arise because of their own limitations as well as larger societal trends of racial discrimination and cruelty. One short story, “One out of Many” tells of a domestic servant from Bombay who moves with his master to the United States but whose hopes of freedom and opportunity in the new land are dashed as he finds himself even more alone and imprisoned than he had been in India. The second short story, “Tell Me Who to Kill,” is about a Trinidadian man who lives in London and whose goal in life is to see that his younger brother does not have to endure the indignities that he himself has suffered. This objective is thwarted when the younger brother squanders the money the elder brother has saved for his education, leaves school, and marries a white woman. The title novella in the volume, “In a Free State,” tells of a white couple touring Africa who discover that behind the veneer of civilization is a culture ripped apart by despotic brutality and tribal savagery. Naipaul won the Booker Prize for this unusual treatise about cultural detachment and alienation, but many commentators denounced the work because of its portrayal of Third World cultures as essentially hopeless.
Naipaul's three collections of short stories are seen by critics as some of the finest expressions of the dilemmas and struggles of colonized people striving to make both their individual and social lives meaningful in a postcolonial context. Miguel Street drew almost universal praise for its comic irony and colorful dialect used to illustrate the author's own need to flee his home and family to establish himself in a culture of perceived high traditions and customs. While some of the short stories in A Flag on the Island received critical attention, the book was generally dismissed as a collection of minor works by an author who had much better to offer. In a Free State was quickly recognized as an important new collection of short stories, and Naipaul's fellow travel writer and friend, Paul Theroux, called the work a “masterpiece in the fiction of rootlessness.” While nearly all critics have praised the charming prose style and delicate humor of the stories, many commentators, most often from the developing world, have charged that even in the early works Naipaul paints pictures of Third World people as culturally inferior. The criticism that Naipaul is only able to find fault with the individuals and societies he describes persists as he continues to record, without apology, his impressions of the alienation and inhumanity he considers to be the enduring legacies of colonialism.
Miguel Street 1959
A Flag on the Island 1967
In a Free State 1971
The Mystic Masseur (novel) 1957
The Suffrage of Elvira (novel) 1958
A House for Mr. Biswas (novel) 1961
The Middle Passage: Impressions of Five Societies—British, French and Dutch—in the West Indies and South America (nonfiction) 1962
Mr. Stone and the Knights Companion (novel) 1963
An Area of Darkness (nonfiction) 1964
The Mimic Men (novel) 1967
The Loss of El Dorado: A History (nonfiction) 1969
The Overcrowded Barracoon, and other Articles (essays) 1972
Guerillas (novel) 1975
India: A Wounded Civilization (nonfiction) 1977
A Bend in the River (novel) 1979
The Return of Eva Perón: With the Killings in Trinidad (essays) 1980
Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey (nonfiction) 1981
Finding the Centre: Two Narratives (nonfiction) 1984
The Enigma of Arrival: A Novel (novel) 1987
A Turn in the South (nonfiction) 1989
India: A Million Mutinies Now (nonfiction) 1990
(The entire section is 148 words.)
SOURCE: “Potpourri of the Antilles,” in Saturday Review, Vol. 51, No. 23, June 8, 1968, p. 52.
[In the following review, Plant dismisses the title story of A Flag on the Island as another example of Naipaul's defeatist and predictably pessimistic attitude about the effects of colonialism, but also offers warm praise for the dialogue and humor in the other short stories included.]
There must be two V. S. Naipauls: One, in full control of his materials, sets up a world populated by beautifully rendered West Indian, Hindu, or British people, and keeps his plot line so tense he never lets go. The second appears a prey to certain appetites and obsessions and tends to dissipate both story and characters. Here the nonhero watches himself carry out self-destructive deeds, then watches himself watching, and analyzes the analysis. In these happenings the leading men like to drift into dimly lit, dimly described barrooms, devour, let us say, one hundred oysters for no reason, drink too much, and then complain about not feeling well when they end up with a woman they didn't want in the first place. Alas, the curtain is not drawn. Instead, we are offered an annex of lamentations about youngish men ill-fitted for the hard labor of escalating love campaigns.
This ceaseless self-pitying, this frenzied defeatism—after awhile as predictable as the sunny heroism of Rudyard Kipling's...
(The entire section is 856 words.)
SOURCE: “Darkest Naipaulia,” in New Statesman, Vol. 82, No. 2116, October 8, 1971, pp. 282-83.
[In the following review, Calder praises the two short stories of In a Free State for their ability to convey the fears and isolation of emigrants living in cultures destroyed by imperialism, but criticizes the book as a whole for being too pessimistic to recognize any positive signs for hope in the African continent.]
For all his marvellous narrative skill, Naipaul's vision has often seemed at odds with the novel form. In his early genre stories, where Trinidad is perceived as a place where nothing grand or serious could possibly happen, the unwary reader is puzzled by a persistent thrust towards anti-climax. Lately he has seen the whole world as godless and disordered, the thin crust of a dying planet smeared with the trails of defeated empires. The Mimic Men imposed on it an order, that of the cycle, which conveyed an apt sense of futility but seemed arbitrary.
Now we have In a Free State; an appropriate anarchy. Documentary extracts from notebooks begin and round it off. Two long short stories and a novel intervene, spanning four continents. Each piece is a tour de force exploring the private anguish of a man ‘freed’ by emigration from the homely stupor of life in his own place, but forced to pay the cost—detachment, fear and impotence. The last victim is...
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SOURCE: “In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul,” in Saturday Review, Vol. 54, October 23, 1971, pp. 91-2.
[In the following review of In a Free State, Larson criticizes the short stories and novella for their pessimistic themes of emigrants suffering from prejudice as they lead lives in foreign lands.]
Trinidadian writer V. S. Naipaul's latest work is composed of a prologue and an epilogue from his own travel journals, two short stories, and a novella. These five sections are loosely connected by the themes of exile, freedom, and prejudice. All of the situations are multiracial, and in each one we see people who are trapped—prisoners of the alien cultures around them. In the opening journal section Naipaul is crossing from Piraeus to Alexandria aboard a Greek steamer, on which he sees a tramp being roughed up by his cabin mates. In the epilogue Naipaul himself is the ostracized victim, attempting to prevent a group of beggar children from being flayed by an Egyptian with a camel-whip. The other tourists—Italians and Germans—cannot understand why he runs to their protection. They are more concerned with taking pictures of the children who are scrambling for bits of leftover food.
The highlight of the volume is a short story called “One Out of Many,” a first-person narrative of an Indian named Santosh who works in Washington, D.C., as a domestic for a rich Indian...
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SOURCE: “To Be Without Roots,” in The Washington Post Book World, Vol. 5, No. 49, December 5, 1971, p. 22.
[In the following review of In a Free State, Theroux calls the work a “masterpiece in the fiction of rootlessness” and compares the transplanted characters of the short stories to those in Naipaul's other works.]
There are two sorts of intrepid travelers. The first are the travelers from a great and famous city or a prosperous country; they are made confident by the wealth of their home, they are emboldened by their history, their literature; they are calm, they travel to compare. Travel is part of their education, and an adventure. Once these travelers were Greeks and Italians, later Spanish and English; now they are mostly Americans.
The second sort, of which V. S. Naipaul (an Indian born in Trinidad and living now in England) is one, are the homeless. Many are former colonials, transplanted people who can claim no country as their own; they travel because they belong nowhere. They are constantly moving—in a sense they never arrive—and much of their travel is flight. Rootlessness is their condition.
There is a great deal of travel literature and fiction written by metropolitans (like Graham Greene, they may travel “in search of a character”); from those who are homeless there is very little. They are not calm; their homelessness is a...
(The entire section is 1269 words.)
SOURCE: “Displaced Person,” in The New York Review of Books, Vol. 17, No. 11, December 30, 1971, pp. 3-4.
[In the following review of In a Free State, Kazin calls the book one of Naipaul's best and illustrates how the short stories within the work give voice to Naipaul's major themes of displacement, exile, and homelessness.]
This is an extraordinarily penetrating book and a disturbing one. One could well praise the original and powerful novelist behind it by describing the reason for the disturbance—nor would this minimize the disturbance in the least.
V. S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad, to which his grandfather had come from India; he completed his very English education at Oxford. After seven books of fiction and three works of nonfiction, most of them dealing by one stratagem or another with the interrelationships between the West Indies, England, and Africa first made clear to him by the imperialist history of Trinidad, Naipaul has become one of the few living writers of fiction in English wholly incommensurable with anybody else. He is, however, a writer as astonishing as the Orwell who came out of Burma, the Conrad who came out of the British Merchant Navy, the Malcolm Lowry of Under the Volcano who was able, once, to fuse his England and his deadly Mexico under the intense pressure of his Canadian exile.
Naipaul is a colonial brought up in...
(The entire section is 1869 words.)
SOURCE: “Naipaul's Third World: A Not so Free State,” in The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Vol. 10, No. 1, August, 1975, pp. 10-22.
[In the following essay, Thieme compares In a Free State to Naipaul's earlier work and concludes that this later effort shows the author moving beyond themes of the wretchedness of Third World colonial life to reflect his personal ability to free himself from the shackles of a colonial mentality.]
For many West Indian intellectuals the work of V. S. Naipaul has always represented a denial of the third-world spirit. For writers like Lamming,1 Naipaul's ironic eclecticism and brahminical aloofness have made him a stereotype of the colonial Anglophile. East Indian by descent, Trinidadian by birth, English by virtue of his Oxford education,2 Naipaul has given credence to the view of him as the paradigm colonial by his many scathing comments on the West Indies: he dismisses Trinidad as ‘unimportant, uncreative, cynical’,3 the Caribbean islands as the ‘Third World's third world’,4 and comments ironically that ‘the intellectual equivocations of Black Power are part of its strength’.5 Yet simply to label him a colonial writer is at best a half-truth. As far as ‘commitment’ goes he has little in common with the followers of Fanon, though of late the god-like neutrality of style of his early works...
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SOURCE: “The Paradox of Freedom: V. S. Naipaul's In a Free State,” in Critique: Studies in Modern Fiction, Vol. 18, No. 1, 1977, pp. 81-91.
[In the following essay, Boxill asserts that Naipaul understands freedom as having to be paradoxical in order to be meaningful, and discusses the symbolic “prisons” in In a Free State.]
Prison is an important presence in V. S. Naipaul's first-written book, Miguel Street, and it is, if anything, more central in his recent In a Free State. Although the characters in Miguel Street live in the shadow of an actual jail, Naipaul suggests that Miguel Street and Trinidad itself are both so limiting as to deserve to be seen as wider prisons in which the characters find themselves trapped. In spite of its universal resonances, especially in the author's ability to create characters that live, Miguel Street implies that Trinidad is like a prison because of its remoteness and its past of colonialism and slavery. Its characters, many of whom are creative, are frustrated because they live in a community which lacks standards and does not value creativity. The book implies that freedom can be achieved by escaping to a country which has not been stunted by colonialism, for its narrator accomplishes such an escape.
No actual prison appears in In a Free State. Such a place is quite unnecessary in its world, because...
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SOURCE: “Naipaul's Painters and Their Pictures,” in Critique: Studies in Modern Fiction, Vol. 18, No. 1, 1976, pp. 67-80.
[In the following essay, Winser traces Naipaul's use of painters and visual art in his first seven novels and two collections of short stories.]
A reading of V. S. Naipaul's manifold prize-winning fiction reveals his continuing interest in the art of painting. Each of Naipaul's seven novels and two short-story collections either presents an important character who paints or alludes to at least one imagined artist. Naipaul likes to depict his characters in the creative act of painting, affording him the chance to describe their work in style and content. Some of the painting episodes in Naipaul's fiction and the pictures painted by his characters are put to very sophisticated use by their real creator. Like the dream performed by one of Dostoevsky's underground insomniacs or the song sung by a Shakespearean heroine, the painting created by a Naipaul character can indicate depths of personality, suggest an essential theme, satirical or serious, and even advance the action of a story. At other times, a painting or related form of visual art will appear in a scene of Naipaul's fiction solely for the pleasure of its own details.
Even better than some of his imagined artists, Naipaul understands traditional problems involved in the making of a painting. As we shall...
(The entire section is 5074 words.)
SOURCE: “The Short Fiction,” in Contrary Awareness: A Critical Study of the Novels of V. S. Naipaul, Centre for Research on New International Economic Order, 1982, pp. 28-44.
[In the following excerpt from his full-length book on Naipaul's fiction, Rao analyzes the plots and themes of several of the short stories in A Flag on the Island and argues that the stories are held together by the “unifying metaphor of island life.”]
The stories collected in A Flag on the Island (1967) employ the island-world as a unifying metaphor in the same manner as Miguel Street does the street-world. However, three of the eleven stories have no connection with the West Indian scene, while the title of the story dramatizes the Island life from an extra-insular perspective. The rest of the stories reflect a minute observation of the island life offering glimpses into the complex social process in the mixed milieu of the West Indian life. They are keyed to moods rather than personalities, capturing the flavour of character through the element of surprise with which the island life is continually coloured. The island people are constantly preoccupied with their station in society and view their landscape as a starting point for building up their individual fantasies. Each story feels, as it were, the fluttering of the flag on the island. The flag is used as metaphor for historical change...
(The entire section is 4726 words.)
SOURCE: “Humour and Sympathy: Miguel Street and other stories,” in Journey Through Darkness: The Writings of V. S. Naipaul, University of Queensland Press, 1987, pp. 13-24.
[In the following excerpt from her full-length study of Naipaul's work, Nightingale shows how themes of postcolonial futility and wasted lives in Miguel Street become more explicit and pessimistic in the short stories that make up A Flag on the Island.]
The first book Naipaul wrote (but the third published), Miguel Street (1959), is a collection of short stories which are unified by the presence of a single narrator, a single setting, and a group of characters who individually become the focus of separate stories. The stories are further unified by themes of postcolonial futility, brutality, and lack of creativity which are lightened by humour and irony. The lightly ironic tone is reinforced by lines from calypsos quoted as comments on events in the stories and by subjecting the narrator himself to irony. The narrator unselfconsciously includes himself among admirers of Big Foot, the coward who achieved fame by throwing a stone through a Radio Trinidad window “to wake them up”, and Man-man who “had seen God after having a bath”. Nor is he surprised at this sighting: “Seeing God was quite common in Port of Spain, and indeed, in Trinidad at that time … I suppose it was natural that since God was in...
(The entire section is 4305 words.)
SOURCE: “Tradition, Miguel Street, and Other Stories: The First Period of Naipaul's Development,” in V. S. Naipaul: A Materialist Reading, University of Massachussetts Press, 1988, pp. 16-36.
[In the following excerpt, Cudjoe positions Naipaul in tradition of the Caribbean short story and traces the development of themes in his short fiction.]
The only independence which they [the Africans and East Indians] would desire is idleness, according to their different tastes in the enjoyment of it; and the higher motives which actuate the European labourers … that to be industrious is a duty and a virtue; that to be independent in circumstances, whatever his station, raises a man in the moral scale amongst his race; and that his ability to perform his duties as a citizen, and, we may add, as a Christian, is increased by it. These, and such motives as these, are unknown to the fatalist worshippers of Mahomet and Brahma, and to the savages who go by the names of Liberated Africans.
—Lord Harris, quoted in Eric Williams, History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago
I suppose … there is barely a society without its major narratives, told, retold and varied; formulae, texts, ritualized texts to be spoken in well-defined circumstances, things said once, and conserved because people suspect some hidden secret...
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SOURCE: “The Comic Island,” and “Shipwrecked” in V. S. Naipaul, The Continuum Publishing Company, 1989, pp. 15-53; 73–102.
[In the following excerpts from his full-length treatment of Naipaul's work, Kelly penetrates the humor of the short stories in Miguel Street and A Flag on the Island to discover the author's emerging disparagement of life and human possibility in places like Trinidad.]
Although Miguel Street was published in 1959, after The Mystic Masseur (1957) and The Suffrage of Elvira (1958), it was the first book Naipaul wrote. These three books represent Naipaul's comic vision of life in Trinidad, a wistful chronicle of the provincial rituals and absurdities of island life. Despite the narrators' satirical tone and the implicit poverty, ignorance, and suffering that lay in the background of the stories, these three works embody a powerful sense of lost innocence and youth. When the narrator of Miguel Street, for instance, reaches his eighteenth birthday, he suddenly discovers that the fascinating people around him, who he assumed would remain always the same, have lost their sparkle. In three years, he says, “I had grown up and looked critically at the people around me. I no longer wanted to be like Eddoes. He was so weak and thin, and I hadn't realized he was so small. Titus Hoyt was stupid and...
(The entire section is 10464 words.)
SOURCE: “Carnival” in On the Margins: The Art of Exile in V. S. Naipaul, University of Massachussetts Press, 1992, pp. 21-46.
[In the following excerpt, Weiss argues that Miguel Street is told in two voices—that of a child who loves the spirit and people of Trinidad and that of an adult who needs to explain why he had to escape the futility and imprisonment of life in Port of Spain.]
MIGUEL STREET (1959)
The narrative strategy of Miguel Street responds to a split between the author's Trinidad and English cultural selves and attempts to resolve that split through double perspectives. First, by viewing Miguel Street from the perspective of a narrator who tells the story as if he were again a boy growing up in Port of Spain, the author can write from the base of his colonial Trinidad experiences, reentering, reconstructing, and revising that world. Second, by standing outside as well as within the narrator's viewpoint, the author can evaluate that world from the distanced perspective that he has acquired through his life in England. In short, he can write from the double perspective of exile, viewing one culture through the lens of another.
The narrator of Miguel Street is both a teller of the story and a character in it. I sometimes refer to him as the boy-adult narrator because he looks from a split perspective, that of a boy and...
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SOURCE: “Abroad,” in V. S. Naipaul, Cambridge University Press, 1995, pp. 88–120.
[In the following excerpt, Mustafa analyzes Naipaul's mingling of short fiction and nonfiction in In a Free State and concludes that with the work Naipaul reaches “an existentialist disassociation from the testimony he writes.”]
IN A FREE STATE (1971)
This volume appears to be another innovation in Naipaul's corpus of works, not only because it simultaneously incorporates fiction and non-fiction, but also because the title novella is his first work of fiction with an African setting. The chronological contingency of the publications of The Loss of El Dorado and In a Free State also crudely suggests that there is a linkage between Naipaul's inability, or choice not, to write the history of Trinidad as other than a European one, and his African story's concentration on the besieged and outgoing European expatriate protagonists in a newly independent African nation. Furthermore, it would appear to be a logical progression for Naipaul to now explore the continent of Africa, for it represents the last major world player in colonialism's history, the topic that by this stage in his career seems to overwhelm the local and situated investigations that his personal history had hitherto supplied him. Not surprisingly, therefore, Naipaul's first foray beyond the...
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Jarvis, Kelvin. V. S. Naipaul: A Selective Bibliography with Annotations, 1957-1987. Metuchen, New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1989, 205 p.
Comprehensive listing of articles and books written about Naipaul.
Belcher, William F. “Jonathan Swift on Miguel Street.” World Literature Written in English 24, No. 2 (Autumn 1984): 347-49.
Explores how Naipaul borrows the satirical style of Jonathan Swift to condemn colonialism in the short stories which make up Miguel Street.
Boxill, Anthony. “V. S. Naipaul's Starting Point.” The Journal of Commonwealth Literature 10, No. 1 (August 1975): 1-9.
Uncovers seven short stories by Naipaul's father and remarks on the similarities in language and themes of entrapment used by father and son.
———. “The Little Bastard Worlds of V. S. Naipaul's The Mimic Men and a ‘Flag on the Island.’” The International Fiction Review 3, No. 1 (January 1976): 12-19.
Discusses the similarities in “A Flag on the Island” and the novel The Mimic Men, and argues that Naipaul has come to an awareness that the ravages of colonialism can be overcome by use of the imagination.
Cheuse, Alan. “This Was the Famous View.” The...
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