Trinidadian-British Nobel Prize-Winning Writer
V. S. Naipaul, fully Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul
Trinidadian-British Nobel Prize-Winning Writer
To be a writer you have to be out in the world, you have to risk yourself in the world, you have to be immersed in the world, you have to go out looking for it. This becomes harder as you get older because there's less energy, the days are shorter for older people and it's not so easy to go out and immerse oneself in the world outside.
What was past was past. I suppose that was the general attitude.
You see, a writer tries very hard to see his childhood material as it exists. The nature of that childhood experience is very hard to understand?it has a beginning, a distant background, very dark, and then it has an end when a writer becomes a man. The reason why this early material is so important is that he needs to understand it to make it complete.
The reason is that they define how I have gone about my business. I have trusted to intuition. I did it at the beginning. I do it even now. I have no idea how things might turn out, where in my writing I might go next.
To be among the ruins was to have your time-sense unsettled.
Whatever extra there is in me at any given moment isn't fully formed. I am hardly aware of it; it awaits the next book. It will - with luck - come to me during the actual writing, and it will take me by surprise.
You would say that he felt that money had made him holy.
The wines are Saccone and Speed,? he had said. It was a merchant?s observation. He had meant that even there, in the centre of Africa, the wine had come from the shippers on our east coast, and not from the people on the other side. But in my imagination I allowed the words to stand for pure bliss.
To be converted you have to destroy your past, destroy your history. You have to stamp on it, you have to say 'my ancestral culture does not exist, it doesn't matter.'
Whatever they say about going back to the beginning, they?ll be interested in the car.
The world is always in movement.
To go back home was to play with impressions in this way, the way I played with the first pair of glasses I had, looking at a world now sharp and small and not quite real, now standard in size and real but blurred.
When I learnt to write I became my own master, I became very strong, and that strength is with me to this very day.
The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it... It wasn't only the sand drifts and the mud and the narrow, winding, broken roads up in the mountains. There was all that business at the frontier posts, all that haggling in the forest outside wooden huts that flew strange flags. I had to talk myself and my Peugeot past the men with guns -- just to drive through bush and more bush. And then I had to talk even harder, and shed a few more bank notes and give away more of my tinned food, to get myself -- and the Peugeot -- out of the places I had talked us into. Some of these palavers could take half a day.
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; . . . best is the knowledge provided by the newspaper itself.
When the man was totting up the fare, all the deluxe supplements, he worked the sum out twenty times on the adding machine. The same sum, twenty times. Why? Did he think the machine was going to change its mind?
The world outside existed in a kind of darkness; and we inquired about nothing.
To this day, if you ask me how I became a writer, I cannot give you an answer. To this day, if you ask me how a book is written, I cannot answer. For long periods, if I didn't know that somehow in the past I had written a book, I would have given up.
When things went wrong they had the consolations of religion. This wasn?t just a readiness to accept Fate; this was a quiet and profound conviction about the vanity of all human endeavour.
The writer is all alone.
Trinidad may seem complex, but to anyone who knows it, it is a simple, colonial, philistine society.
When we had come no one could tell me. We were not that kind of people. We simply lived; we did what was expected of us, what we had seen the previous generation do. We never asked why; we never recorded. We felt in our bones that we were a very old people; but we seemed to have no means of gauging the passing of time. Neither my father nor my grandfather could put dates to their stories. Not because they had forgotten or were confused; the past was simply the past.
Their primary idea was the old Bengali idea of the Motherland, the idea that Bengal had given to the rest of India, Debu said: the idea that India had to be a country one could be proud of. The idea had decayed in Bengal since independence, Debu said. ?In my class the idea is still there, but it is a remnant of the past ? considered an anachronism ? and in the class above, the industrialists and businessmen, the idea exists more or less as a negative quantity.
We cannot understand all the traits we have inherited. Sometimes we can be strangers to ourselves.
Whenever I have had to write fiction, I've always had to invent a character who roughly has my background.