Saturday, May 31, 2008

Nayar, Radhakrishnan. "A Writer's People: Ways of Looking and Feeling." TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION March 13, 2008.

Great writers can be impatient, quirky, rudely iconoclastic literary critics. It is almost a professional deformity. They achieve greatness through a stern commitment to sharply individual visions of the world and methods of description and narrative. It leads easily to the idea that those who see and describe differently have nothing to offer. With many literary lions, the thought that it takes many sorts of books to make a rich literature doesn't sit easily. No eminent writer has indulged in the favourite sport of his tribe as savagely as V. S. Naipaul. He has opined that Jane Austen's novels are little more than gossip, that E. M. Forster was just a pederast touting empty riddles, and that there was nothing to be got from the writings about Dublin of that blind man living in Trieste, James Joyce. But Naipaul is also, when he wants to be, a careful literary critic, full of startling insights. His sovereign contempt for authorities and schools is deeply refreshing. In this book of essays he is commenting on other writers - Flaubert, Anthony Powell, Evelyn Waugh, Derek Walcott, among others - but he is really telling us how he got the language and the ways of seeing that have made his books the most provocative and cruel literary analysis we have of the post-colonial situation. . . . Read the rest here:

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