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The Writer and the World: Essays

V.S. Naipaul

244 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0375707301 / ISBN 13: 9780375707308
Published by Vintage, 2003
New Condition: New Soft cover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Writer and the World: Essays

Publisher: Vintage

Publication Date: 2003

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition: New

About this title

Synopsis:

Spanning four decades and four continents, this magisterial volume brings together the essential shorter works of reflection and reportage by our most sensitive, literate, and undeceivable observer of the post-colonial world. In its pages V. S. Naipaul trains his relentless moral intelligence on societies from India to the United States and sees how each deals with the challenges of modernity and the seductions of both the real and mythical past.

Whether he is writing about a string of racial murders in Trinidad; the mad, corrupt reign of Mobutu in Zaire; Argentina under the generals; or Dallas during the 1984 Republican Convention, Naipaul combines intellectual playfulness with sorrow, indignation, and analysis so far-reaching that it approaches prophecy. The Writer and the World reminds us that he is in a class by himself.

Review:

V.S. Naipaul is a creature of paradox. Nowhere is this more apparent than in his essay collection, The Writer and the World. These essays, selected and introduced by Pankaj Mishra, range from the early 1960s to the mid-1980s. In them, our man travels the world, from his native Trinidad to his ancestral India to America and beyond, always looking with clear eyes at what's right there in front of him. In doing so, he's given us a distinctly Naipaulean journalism: he writes about countries as though they were people. "The politics of a country," he says, "can only be an extension of its idea of human relationships." His writing is, as a result, simultaneously petty and grand. Here, he writes of Belize City:

In the late afternoons Negroes in jackets and ties--famous throughout Central America for their immunity to disease--walk behind the hearses to the cemetery just outside the town, waving white handkerchiefs... It is like a ceremony of bewildered farewell at the limit of the world. But they are only keeping off the mosquitoes and sand flies.
Here is a writer who turns the specific to the universal, seemingly without effort. If Naipaul has a reputation as a grouch, it's only because he never lets go of the specific in favor of the universal. The two always coexist. The pieces contained here--mostly heretofore out of print--are short in length, catholic in interest, and in all a fine introduction to our most cosmopolitan postcolonial writer. --Claire Dederer

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