V. S. Naipaul, fully Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul

V. S.
Naipaul, fully Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul

Trinidadian-British Nobel Prize-Winning Writer

Author Quotes

If ever you wish to meet intellectual frauds in quantity, go to Paris.

In England I am not English, in India I am not Indian. I am chained to the 1,000 square miles that is Trinidad; but I will evade that fate yet.

It is well that Indians are unable to look at their country directly, for the distress they would see would drive them mad. And it is well that they have no sense of history, for how then would they be able to continue to squat amid their ruins, and which Indian would be able to read the history of his country for the last thousand years without anger and pain? It is better to retreat into fantasy and fatalism, to trust to the stars in which the fortunes of all are written

Le Corbusier?s unrendered concrete towers, after 27 years of Punjab sun and monsoon and sub-Himalayan winter, looked stained and diseased, and showed now as quite plain structures, with an applied flashiness: megalomaniac architecture: people reduced to units, individuality reserved only to the architect, imposing his ideas of colour in an inflated Mir¢esque mural on one building, and imposing an iconography of his own with a giant hand set in a vast flat area of concrete paving, which would have been unbearable in winter and summer and the monsoon. India had encouraged yet another outsider to build a monument to himself.

Neither my father nor grandfather could put dates to their stories. Not because they had forgotten or were confused; the past was simply the past. I remember hearing from my grandfather that he had once shipped a boatful of slaves as a cargo of rubber. He couldn?t tell me when he had done this. It was just there in his memory, floating around, without date or other association, as an unusual event in an uneventful life.

Reality is always separate from the ideal; but in Trinidad this fantasy is a form of masochism and is infinitely more cheating than the fantasy which makes the poor delight in films about rich or makes the English singer use and American accent.

The medieval mind, which saw only continuity, seemed so unassailable. It existed in a world which, with all its ups and downs, remained harmoniously ordered and could be taken for granted. It had not developed a sense of history, which is a sense of loss; it had developed no true sense of beauty, which is a gift of assessment. While it was enclosed, this made it secure. Exposed, its world became a fairyland, exceedingly fragile. It was one step from the Kashmiri devotional songs to the commercial jingles of Radio Ceylon; it was one step from the roses of Kashmir to a potful of plastic daisies.

I read many things. I read to fill in my knowledge of the world.

If he insists on a version of you that is funnier, stranger, more eccentric and profound than you suspect yourself to be - capable of doing more good and more harm in the world than you've ever imagined - it is all but impossible not to believe, at least in his presence and for a while after you've left him, that he alone sees through to your essence, weighs your true qualities and appreciates you more fully than anyone else ever has. It is only after knowing him some time that you begin to realize that you are, to him, an essentially fictional character, one he has invested with nearly limitless capacities for tragedy and comedy not because that is your true nature but because he needs to live in a world propelled by extreme and commanding figures.

In England people are very proud of being very stupid.

It is wrong to have an ideal view of the world. That's where the mischief starts. That's where everything starts unravelling...

Life doesn't have a neat beginning and a tidy end, life is always going on. You should begin in the middle and end in the middle, and it should be all there.

Non-fiction can distort facts can be realigned. But fiction never lies.

Religion now had to have its compartment, almost its social place.

The melancholy thing about the world is that it is full of stupid people; and the world is run for the benefit of the stupid and common.

I really wasn't equipped to be a writer when I left Oxford. But then I set out to learn. I've always had the highest regard for the craft. I've always felt it was work.

If it was Europe that gave us on the coast some idea of our history, it was Europe, I feel, that also introduced us to the lie. Those of us who had been in that part of Africa before the Europeans had never lied about ourselves. Not because we were moral. We didn?t lie because we never assessed ourselves and didn?t think there was anything for us to lie about; we were people who simply did what we did.

In fact, the only person who seemed to examine the event with some astonishment was myself, who marveled that such a turn in my life could occur so easily.

It isn't that there's no right and wrong here. There's no right.

Life is a helluva thing. You can see trouble coming and you can't do a damn thing to prevent it coming. You just got to sit and watch and wait.

Not the first time. I didn?t think my heart could stand it. But the airplane is a wonderful thing. You are still in one place when you arrive at the other. The airplane is faster than the heart. You arrive quickly and you leave quickly. You don?t grieve too much. And there is something else about the airplane. You can go back many times to the same place. And something strange happens if you go back often enough. You stop grieving for the past. You see that the past is something in your mind alone, that it doesn?t exist in real life. You trample on the past, you crush it. In the beginning it is like trampling on a garden. In the end you are just walking on ground. That is the way we have to learn to live now. The past is here. He touched his heart. It isn?t there. And he pointed at the dusty road. I

Small things can start us off in new ways of thinking, and I was started off by the postage stamps of our area.

The only lies for which we are truly punished are those we tell ourselves.

I shared in the boom. I was energetic in my own modest way. But I was also restless. You so quickly get used to peace. It is like being well ? you take it for granted, and forget that when you were ill to be well again had seemed everything. And with peace and the boom I began to see the town as ordinary, for the first time.

If writers just sit and talk about oppression, they are not going to do much writing.

Author Picture
First Name
V. S.
Last Name
Naipaul, fully Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul
Birth Date
Death Date

Trinidadian-British Nobel Prize-Winning Writer