V. S. Naipaul, fully Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul

V. S.
Naipaul, fully Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul
1932
1996

Trinidadian-British Nobel Prize-Winning Writer

Author Quotes

As for the young man carrying the groceries, he was a thin, fair-skinned young man, and I would have said that he had been born in the house. He had the vacant, dog-like expressions that house-born slaves, as I remembered, liked to put on when they were in public with their masters and performing some simple task. This fellow was pretending that the Waitrose groceries were a great burden, but this was just an act, to draw attention to himself and the lady he served. He, too, had mistaken me for an Arab, and when we crossed he had dropped the burdened-down expression and given me a look of wistful inquisitiveness, like a puppy that wanted to play but had just been made to understand that it wasn't playtime.

Everybody is interesting for an hour, but few people can last more than two.

How can you be an atheist and have an ideology to go with it? To be an atheist is to be free of some areas of belief. I don't see how that can become an ideology.

I had no student friends to talk to about literature. My tutor was a really nice man, very charming - but he had no literary judgment.

Ah, sahib. I know you just come to comfort a old man left to live by hisself. Soomintra say I too old-fashion. And Leela, she always by you. Why you don?t sit down, sahib? It ain?t dirty. Is just how it does look.?

At school I had only admirers; I had no friends.

Everywhere else men are in movement, the world is in movement, and the past can only cause pain.

How could people like these, without words to put to their emotions and passions, manage? They could, at best, only suffer dumbly. Their pains and humiliations would work themselves out in their characters alone: like evil spirits possessing a body, so that the body itself might appear innocent of what it did.

I had seen how deep in nearly every West Indian, high and low, were the prejudices of race; how often these prejudices were rooted in self-contempt; and how much important action they prompted. Everyone spoke of nation and nationalism but no one was willing to surrender the priviledges or even the separateness of his group.

All cultures have been mingled forever.

attributed the decay of Hindu society in Trinidad to the rise of the timorous, weak, non-beating class of husband.

For Shama and her sisters and women like them, ambition, if the word could be used, was a series of negatives; not to be unmarried, not to be childless, not to be an undutiful daughter, sister, wife, mother, widow.

How ridiculous were the attentions the weak paid one another in the shadow of the strong!

I have a very small public.

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.

Because they could assess themselves, the Europeans were better equipped to cope with changes than we were.

For the first time in his life he began to experience a kind of true pride. He felt himself, so to speak, taking up space when he walked in the streets; and he wondered whether this was how other people felt all the time, without effort, all the secure people he met in London and Africa.

How we flounder when emotion overtakes us.

All the things that were read to me by my father were stories about things becoming all right.

Before comfort had been squeezed out of the hard land, like blood out of stone.

For when one thinks of Guiana one thinks of a country whose inadequate resources are strained in every way, a country whose geography imposes on it an administration and a programme of public works out of all proportion to its revenue and population. One thinks of the sea-wall, forever being breached and repaired; the dikes made of mud for want of money; the dirt roads and their occasional experimental surfacing; the roads that are necessary but not yet made; the decadent railways ('Three-fourths of the passenger rolling stock,' says a matter-of-fact little note in the government paper on the Development Programme, 'is old and nearing the point beyond which further repairs will be impossible'); the three overworked Dakotas and two Grumman seaplanes of British Guiana Airways. And one thinks of the streets of Albouystown, as crowded with children as a schoolyard during recess.

I also bought a copy of The New York Times, the previous day's issue of which I had seen the previous day in Puerto Rico. I was interested in newspapers and knew this paper to be one of the foremost in the world. But to read a newspaper for the first time is like coming into a film that has been on for an hour. Newspapers are like serials. To understand them you have to take knowledge to them; the knowledge that serves best is the knowledge provided by the newspaper itself. It made me feel a stranger, that paper.

Always, sailing up from the south, from beyond the bend in the river, were clumps of water hyacinths, dark floating islands on the dark river, bobbing over the rapids. It was as if rain and river were tearing away bush from the heart of the continent and floating it down to the ocean, incalculable miles away. But the water hyacinth was the fruit of the river alone. The tall lilac-colored flower had appeared only a few years before, and in the local language there was no word for it. The people still called it the new thing or the new thing in the river, and to them it was another enemy. Its rubbery vines and leaves formed thick tangles of vegetation that adhered to the river banks and clogged up waterways. It grew fast, faster than men could destroy it with the tools they had. The channels to the villages had to be constantly cleared. Night and day the water hyacinth floated up from the south, seeding itself as it travelled. I

But at night, if you were on the river, it was another thing. You felt the land taking you back to something that was familiar, something you had known at some time but had forgotten or ignored, but which was always there. You felt the land taking you back to what was there a hundred years ago, to what had been there always.

For years and years, even during the time of my first visit in 1962, it has been said that Calcutta was dying, that its port was silting up, its antiquated industry declining, but Calcutta hadn't died. It hadn't done much, but it had gone on; and it had begun to appear that the prophecy has been excessive. Now it occurred to me that perhaps this was what happened when cities died. They don't die with a bang; they didn't die only when they were abandoned. Perhaps, they died like this: when everybody was suffering, when transport was so hard that working people gave up jobs they needed because the fear the suffering of the travel; When no one had clean water or air; No one could go walking. Perhaps city died when they lost amenities that cities provided, the visual excitement, the heightened sense of human possibility, and became simply places where there were too many people, and people suffered.

Author Picture
First Name
V. S.
Last Name
Naipaul, fully Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul
Birth Date
1932
Death Date
1996
Bio

Trinidadian-British Nobel Prize-Winning Writer