Sunday, April 06, 2008
Tayler, Christopher. "The Mask that Eats the Face [More on Naipaul]." GUARDIAN April 5, 2008.
As Patrick French reminds his readers in this authorised biography, people have been trying to nail down the central paradox of VS Naipaul's writing for nearly 50 years. Profiling the author of A House for Mr Biswas (1961) in the Trinidad Guardian, Derek Walcott put it this way: "Naipaul seems, on first acquaintance, to have alienated himself from all the problems of our society and particularly those of his race. But the books are almost contradictions of the man." Karl Miller, assessing The Mimic Men (1967), described him as "someone with conservative leanings who none the less writes movingly about the poor and aspiring, a compassionate man who is also fastidious and severe". A reviewer of Naipaul's most recent novel, Magic Seeds (2004), noted his "characteristic mixture of tough-minded materialist analysis and atavistic horror". But perhaps Linton Kwesi Johnson's is now the majority view: "He's a living example of how art transcends the artist 'cos he talks a load of shit but still writes excellent books.". . . . Read the rest here: http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,2270896,00.html.