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Wednesday, 29 August 2007


Naipaul chuckles at the gulf that divides all delusions, pretensions, expectations and vanities from reality. Naipaul is one of the great masters of black comedy. In fiction, he says that, in creating characters, he likes simply to walk around, not judge, them. But in doing so, he manages to expose all their flaws and the dark comedy of their lives. Like Conrad, his true predecessor (though he would never agree to that), he sees humanity as irre-deemably flawed, though worth close observation.

Naipaul is hypersensitive to these human flaws. He once said: “I was gifted at an early age – the minute I saw a person, I could see the flaw in that person. It was like a curse.” So, naturally, I ask him what flaw he saw in me. After trying to avoid the question, he says he no longer has the gift.

“You lost it, coincidentally, just before you met me?”

“Exactly.” Chuckle.

-- From "V.S. Naipaul: the great offender", an admiring profile by Bryan Appleyard in last Sunday's Times. (I didn't notice it until Shelf Space posted a link.) VSN in the Times and the Guardian in one weekend! The publicity machine for his new book is hitting high gear.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

"He doesn’t like the mess of flowers, particularly suburban mounds of multi-coloured roses. If there must be flowers – blossoms, for example – then they must be white. As a result, the ferociously neat, beautifully kept garden is a solid green all the way down to the River Avon, which marks his boundary. Yet, bizarrely, one pink rose has emerged near the back door. He shakes his head sadly."