Editor’s Picks

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V.S. Naipaul passed away on 11th August, 2018. His prolific career spanning over half a century has been bombarded with the political observations of his native Trinidad and post-colonial world. This Nobel Prize and Booker Prize winner is an author of nearly 30 books where most of his works are spanned over the efforts of understanding his cultural heritage and identity. Below are the comments on Naipaul snipped and tailored from various scholars like Amarnath Prasad (Critical essays, Volume 3, Google books). “His masterful skill of using different literary genres to illuminate “areas of darkness” surrounding him and to transmit his diasporic experience has been quite successful. To a certain degree, Naipaul’s achievement in interweaving personalized post-colonial experiences with Spanish and British imperial adventures has generated a new way of re-charting the terrain of English literature too.

On account of his travels to many different parts of the world, Naipaul wonders “whether the borrowed form of novel” could offer more than “the externals of things.” In order to translate the essence of his Indo-Trinidadian-English experience, Naipaul has to find his own way to express things without losing an iota.  As a result, Naipaul has created a fictional world, in which he fights against historical incompleteness, absence, and new ways of re-enacting and transforming history.

A House for Mr. Biswas is the novel that marked Naipaul’s rise as one of the world’s literary stalwarts. It deals with the theme of isolation, frustration and negotiation in a colonized society, a society that turns callous and cruel to the aspiration of the protagonist. Mohan Biswas. It also deals with a number of spiritual or physical melodies such as the clash of cultures between the old and new in a multi-racial society; a quest for identity in a conservative framework and above all, the protagonist’s monotonous journey full of many jerks and jolts. It is to be noted that the theme of identity crisis rings the note of almost all the major works of Naipaul. He also transmits his father’s legacy to many of his fictive characters. He expresses his view of the world in a structure at once naturalistic as, “The substance of the novel has to do with the transformation of Mr. Biswas, a slave to place, history and biography, into free man, the sign and realization of that emancipation being his house.” No doubt. Naipaul’s feelings of rootedness, life of exile that results in personal insecurity and cultural instability are presented in the versions of Mr. Biswas’s experiences. Being alienated from all walks of life and unable to belong either to Britain or Caribbean, the protagonist becomes a man without a side. On the whole he reflects the author’s struggle to assimilate his Indian past, his own complex and personal history, his continual self-criticism and self-evaluation, and sometimes, his excessive reactions to the core of creative intelligence from his authorial vision.” (1)

During the late 60’s, Naipaul had seemingly settled on a journalistic – objective style of writing and ‘A way in the world’ marks a significant departure from his brand of “realism.” And it was at this time, he became a man of contradictions and was least liked by many. Paul Theroux will be able to shed more light on this!

Nabokov seemed to be a master while reading his lectures on literature. But, when one happens to read his ‘literary’ works, the opinion might change. I was searching for a paperback print of Ada for a long time and was overwhelmed joyously only until I had read it. Nabokov’s obsession with pre-adolescent female sexuality is evident and prolonging. This book, Ada, supposed to be a memoir narrated by Van flips often from the path to be a straight third person narrative. Proustian way of approach helps the author to make it pedantic and bloated throughout the novel. The story about incest relationship between Van and his half-sister Ada is less authentic and recondite.

Nabokov who shows keen interest to expatiate, festoons the novel with dumb incidents and presumptuous philosophical conversations. At times, the sentences were too long that I felt hard to get the point or forget what the author had originally intended by those mere text-filling lexicality. I even doubt whether the writer himself was sure about it. One feature of the book is that each section is shorter than the last. But the mind-blowing thing is that each section takes longer to read than the previous one. I hoped fervently that something would come up and take a turn till the end. The author’s agenda to puzzle the reader is stinky with all those same old ludicrous allusiveness. I recognized some of the references taking us back to earlier works. There are some intriguing moments and bestowed previous impression on Nabokov that makes this readable, but ultimately dull and boring. Adorable style doesn’t always help!

As for style and evocative writing combined, Michael Ondaatje is a master. His new novel Warlight, listed in the long list of Man Booker Prize 2018, is a brave and brilliant book. As usual, his prose is so exquisite filled with poetic images. In addition to that, the lyrical writing is topped with intriguing mystery moving back and forth in time. “Set in the post WWII period, it tells the story of two young teenagers, who are mysteriously left—abandoned—by their parents and left in the care of a somewhat dubious character they dub “the Moth.” Nathaniel and Rachel attend school by day, but at night the house is often filled with the eclectic friends of their caretaker. Then, their mother mysteriously returns—without their father. Their lives take on a surreal quality as they become acquainted with quirky and unexplained characters who pass through their house, and Nathaniel gets involved with some shady operations throughout London. It seems that there are no hard edges to Nathaniel’s existence during this period, and even when the mother reappears it is difficult to pinpoint what is going on with him practically and emotionally.” (2) Ondaatje’s skill turns this somewhat eerie tale into a strangely haunting portrait of a certain time and place and rootlessness. A tale of light and shadow. Highly recommended!

Alas! SC decriminalized section 377 and has been hailed as a historic judgement. It rights the wrong the LGBTQI community faced in the form of ignominy and ostracism as mentioned by Justice Indu Malhotra. He also clearly stated that “Majoritarianism cannot stand against the individual space and rights.” That was a beautiful day. The day that ensured the very notion of love.

 

Note :

  1. https://books.google.co.in/books?id=p6c0O22ZP2gC&pg=PA37&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false
  2. http://www.librarything.com/work/20268305/reviews/159770698