- Between the years 1957 and 1961 he was a regular
fiction reviewer for the New Statesman
Spent a great deal of time travelling to Asia, Africa and America
Has been awarded a number of literary prizes: the Booker Prize in 1971, the T.S. Eliot Award for Creative Writing in 1986
He is an honorary doctor of St. Andrew's College and Columbia University and of the Universities of Cambridge, London and Oxford
Knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1990
Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001
Naipaul's works consist mainly of novels and short stories, but also include some that are documentary. He is to a very high degree a cosmopolitan writer, a fact that he himself considers to stem from his lack of roots: he is unhappy about the cultural and spiritual poverty of Trinidad, he feels alienated from India, and in England he is incapable of relating to and identifying with the traditional values of what was once a colonial power.
Is the narrator fully aware of the whole significance of the story he is telling?
Religion as a way to escape the confusion and meaninglessness of life
“… without that I would have been nowhere at all” (140)
The tendency of people to submit themselves to roles invented for them by others
khaki short pants/ merino:
Individuals are reduced to their outward appearance
Divided in “Post” and “Colonialism” ”after colonialism”
Very restrictive and controversial: suggests an ended period, implies political independence
Does not imply the material and psychological effects of colonialism
Neocolonialism: administrative structures, economic and cultural dependence are still omnipresent but former colonial powers are no longer responsible
Postcolonial literature deals with the colonial and the original heritage and interacts between these two: nature, slavery, diversity, race, society, culture, language, independence, identity, confusion.
Postcolonial literature does not inevitably condemn the colonial past
6.1. Typical Naipaul themes
Doubling: the process of setting up a pair of opposites to point out cultural mixtures between colonized and colonial powers
Foils: mark some differences of mentioned objects by describing it intensively, to stand them out from normality
Comedy: Naipaul calls his first stories “social comedies”, warns against taking them too serious and absolute but misconceptions are common with first world critics whereas third world critics criticize his oversimplistic descriptions. The ending changes during his career towards a more pessimistic one.
Fiction and non fiction: often real or at least credible characters but fictional or unnamed places, which are just described:
“When […] I began to travel as a writer, I was uneasy and uncertain. My instinct was towards fiction; I found it constricting to have to deal with fact.” (Naipaul. Finding the centre. P.10-11)
6.2. Themes in “The Baker’s story” - religion: Christianity as consequence of colonialism; divine advices, crucifix guide
- language: oral tradition identity; the voice as a weapon against the oppressor
- postcolonialism: social structures, isolation, confusion, diversity
- mimicry and assimilation to circumvent established determination model
Sources Boxill, Anthony. V.S. Naipaul’s fiction in quest of the enemy. Fredericton: York Press, 1983.
Cudjoe, Selwyn R. V.S. Naipaul – A Materialist Reading. Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1988.
Fischer-Tröstler, Ingrid. Colliding worlds – Probleme der Entwicklungsländer in ausgewählten Werken von V.S. Naipaul. Giessen: Universitätsverlag, 1992.
Naipaul, V.S. A flag on the island. New York: Macmillan, 1967.
Naipaul, V.S. Finding the centre. London: Deutsch, 1984.
Thieme, John. The Web of Tradition: Uses of Allusion in V. S. Naipaul’s Fiction. London: Hansib Publ., 1987.
Thorpe, John. V.S. Naipaul. Harlow: Longman, 1976.
White, Landeg. V. S. Naipaul: A Critical Introduction. London: Macmillan, 1975.