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Thursday, 13 September 2007

Blincoe on Naipaul

Naipaul is far from being a man of the left. Half the pleasure of his writing, for Naipaul if not his readers, is the verve with which he delivers his predictions of catastrophe, sped by fashionable politics. In A Writer's People he is disparaging of the attempts by the various ethnic and mixed-race middle classes of Trinidad to pursue a "melting-pot" politics based on their shared culture. Naipaul finds nothing in his birthplace that "could be called a civilisation", citing the "brutalities of the popular language, and the prejudices of race: nothing a man would wish to call his own". Naipaul is unlikely to be a lover of soca, not even the chutney-soca of his erstwhile community. But he goes too far when he argues that Derek Walcott is symptomatic of this dread emptiness. After admitting that he has a tin ear for poetry, Naipaul confirms this mea culpa with a reading of Walcott's poetry so dim and shallow that he sabotages his own contention that Trinidad is a cultural wasteland.

-- Nicholas Blincoe, reviewing A Writer's People in the New Statesman--the most substantial review so far of Naipaul's latest.

1 comment:

clarabella said...

Hi Nicholas:
Thanks for the heads up on the Naipaul article in the Guardian, and Geoff's essay. We'd just come back from a funeral (Martin's sister) in Jamaica, and had our heads into other things. I think it's amazing that you keep the blog and weblog going. Blessings on both. Pam