Trinidadian-British Nobel Prize-Winning Writer
V. S. Naipaul, fully Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul
Trinidadian-British Nobel Prize-Winning Writer
On the front cover of Newsweek reviews A House for Mr. Biswas as a marvelous prose epic that matches the best 19th century novels for richness of comic insight and final, tragic power.
Some lesser husbands built a latrine on the hillside.
The President?s white men, the promise of order and continuity; and it was oddly comforting, like the sound of rain in the night.
I think when you see so many Hindu temples of the 10th century or earlier disfigured, defaced, you realize that something terrible happened. I feel the civilization of that closed world was mortally wounded by those invasions the old world is destroyed. That has to be understood. Ancient Hindu India was destroyed.
If you get too attached to your roots in the old sense, you might actually become unrooted, fossilized. At least in form, at least in style, you must get into the new stream, get the new roots. More of India is doing that. Style becomes substance in one generation. Things that one starts to do because other people are doing it ? like wearing long pants, in my father?s case ? become natural for the next generation.
In our island myth this was the prescribed end of marriages like mine: the wife goes off with someone from the Cercle Sportif, outside whose gates at night the willingly betrayed husband waits in his motorcar. The circumstances were slightly.
It was a good place for getting lost in, a city no one ever knew, a city explored from the neutral heart outward, until after many years, it defined itself into a jumble of clearings separated by stretches of the unknown, through which the narrowest of paths had been cut.
Making a book is such a big enterprise.
On the white wall at the end of the room was a large oil painting of a European port, done in reds and yellows and blues. It was in slapdash modern style; the lady had painted it herself and signed it. She had given it pride of place in her main room. Yet she hadn?t thought it worth the trouble of taking away.
Some writers can only deal with childhood experience, because it's complete. For another kind of writer, life goes on, and he's able to keep processing that as well.
I thought how terrible it would have been if, as could so easily have happened, I had died without knowing this depth of satisfaction, this other person that I had just discovered within myself. It was worth any price, any consequence.
If you look at a column of ants on the march you will see that there are some who are stragglers or have lost their way. The column has no time for them; it goes on. Sometimes the stragglers die. But even this has no effect on the column. There is a little disturbance around the corpse, which is eventually carried off?and then it appears so light. And all the time the great busyness continues, and that apparent sociability, that rite of meeting and greeting which ants travelling in opposite directions, to and from their nest, perform without fail. So
In the beginning, before the arrival of the white men, I had considered myself neutral. I had wanted neither side to win, neither the army nor the rebels. As it turned out, both sides lost.
It was a light which gave solidity to everything and drew color out from the heart of objects.
Man doesn't realize his real purpose on earth so long as he rolls in comforts. It is absolutely true that adversity teaches a man a bitter lesson, toughens his fiber and molds his character. In other words, an altogether new man is born out of adversity which helpfully destroys one's ego and makes one humble and selfless. Prolonged suffering opens the eyes to hate the things for which one craved before unduly, leading eventually even to a state of resignation. It then dawns on us that continued yearnings brings us intense agony. But the stoic mind is least perturbed by the vicissitudes of life. It is well within our efforts to conquer grief. It's simple. Develop an attitude of detachment even while remaining in the thick of terrestrial pleasures.
One always writes comedy at the moment of deepest hysteria.
That element of surprise is what I look for when I am writing. It is my way of judging what I am doing - which is never an easy thing to do.
I thought: How dare you lecture me about history and loyalty, you slave? We have paid bitterly for people like you. Who have you ever been loyal to, apart from yourself and your family and your caste?
If you want to write serious books, you must be ready to break the forms, break the forms.
In the too solid three-dimensional city, I could never feel myself as anything but spectral, disintegrating, pointless, fluid.
It was as Nazruddin had said, when I asked him about visas and he had said that bank notes were better. 'You can always get into those places. What is hard is to get out. That is a private fight. Everybody has to find his own way.
Many writers tend to write summing-up books at the end of their lives.
One is made by all the things around one. There are many things that have made one. For a writer to go around looking for things that have made him is asking for trouble. It's like giving a character to yourself. Can't do it. Can't do it. These things are just there. Is that enough?
That life was full of rules. Too many rules; it was a prepacked kind of life.
All the details of the life and the quirks and the friendships can be laid out for us, but the mystery of the writing will remain. No amount of documentation, however fascinating, can take us there.