Mankind's only alternative 20   NOV.   18  
Mankind's only alternative
Vlad's Daily Gloat - The eXile Blog
MAIN  RUSSIA  WAR NERD   [SIC!]  BAR-DAK  THE VAULT  ABOUT US  RSS
 
 
EXILE BLOGS

The Fall of The eXile For all those wondering what the "Save The eXile Fundrasier" banner is all about, here it is as simply as it can be phrased: The eXile is shutting down.
June 11, 2008 in eXile Blog

War Nerd: War of the Babies in Taki's Magazine The War Nerd talks about babies, the greatest weapon of the 20th century.
May 28, 2008 in eXile Blog

Kids, Meet Your President A website for Russian kids to learn all about President Medvedev's passion for school, sports and family.
May 22, 2008 in eXile Blog

Cellphone Democracy Cam If this girl was exposed to Jeffersonian democracy...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Dyev Photos Yet another hot Russian babe imitating the Catpower look...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

Proof That Genetic Memory Is Real! Sure, the Ottomans shut down the Istanbul Slavic slave markets centuries ago...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Russia's Orthodox Church Youth Outreach Program The priest is going, "Father Sansei is very impressed with grasshopper Sasha’s...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Club Photos w/Russian Dyevs We took the Pepsi Challenge here...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Blogs RSS feed

Book Review January 22, 2003
 
Naipaul ’s Farewell: Homage to Sredni Vashtar
By John Dolan Browse author Email
 
 

Half A Life
by V. S. Naipaul
Vintage 2001, $13.00

Naipaul has always been a hero of mine, so I'm going to use this review of his latest novel to offer him a general homage, discussing the novel itself only briefly. But now that I try to do it, I realize that praising Naipaul is not so easy. He's easy to hate, admire, or accuse; but not easy to praise -- because as well as a Promethean hero and literary giant, the man is a specimen of pure cruelty, a bigot, and a shameful grovellor who spent the 90s crawling after the Nobel Prize. In his shameless Nobel-begging campaign (he finally got it), Naipaul soiled whatever honor he had left by touring the non-white world for years, trying to show everyone that he had become "compassionate" and no longer hated blacks as Derek Walcot said. Even the Swedes were ashamed of his pleading, his Gollum-whine: "Preciousss, we likes the Nobel Prize, we will not kill for the Nobel Prize, but we will makes sure we is photographed weeping beside every person of color we drags out of a hut and sends the photos to the Swedish Academy, O Preciousss."

But for every mark of Satan he carries, Naipaul also wears emblems of saintliness. For one thing, Paul Theroux hates Naipaul so much he wrote a whole book, Sir Vidia's Shadow, about how good and kind he (Theroux) was and how bad and cruel he (Naipaul) was. And if you ask me, anybody who causes the pig Theroux that much pain wears a halo ever after.

His cruelty is the obvious beginning. It's very Anglo-Indian (very unAmerican, that is): savage, nervous about its place in the world, trained in family mockery. Like Saki, in many ways; Saki the Anglo-Indian anti-Christian, Nietzsche shrunk to a croquet lawn, a worshipper of cruelty.

(I've always thought Naipaul's real name is"Sredni Vashtar," the honorific with which the hero of Saki's story christens a ferocious, giant weasel he keeps hidden in a shed. "Sredni Vashtar" -- those ersatz Indian syllables bestowed on a giant weasel-if that's not Naipaul's true, Platonic name, then I'm a Hindoo.)

Naipaul was not one of your kindly writers, not someone it paid to meet. If you did meet him, you would be wise never to speak or make any gesture. If you did, he would happily eat your soul, stuff it into his novel-making meatgrinder. Naipaul's friends -- they thought they were, anyway -- learned this the hard way.

But there are a lot of writers as ruthless and diligent as Naipaul in that way. Mary McCarthy, they say, spent her life listening for, recording and parodying her friends' verbal missteps. But her malice doesn't amount to much any more, because she was recording the sins of people whose stupidities don't matter any more.

Naipaul's people matter very much, matter more every year. He was right where the world was being born: the Third, or Brown, World at the beginning of the UNICEF era. It must amaze Naipaul that his starting point turned out to be central, when McCarthy's Manhattan turned out to be the sticks, Nowheresville, the periphery. Because it very definitely didn't seem that way to the young Mr. Naipaul, growing up in Trinidad -- a place that never had, and never would matter. In Trinidad, as Naipaul said later, there were exactly 60 jobs. And even Trinidad, that miserable sweatbox, wasn't his. Trinidad had been the property of the whites, but in Naipaul's youth it was clearly passing to the blacks. Naipaul, a brown, whitecollar Indian, wasn't going to be in on the inheritance and knew it very well. He hated the black boys, big and muscular, who beat him up, who scared him. It's the truth; let's face it. He has been called a racist, and he is one. It isn't hard to spot; Guerrillas, his cruelest book, oozes hate for Michael X and all the other big black boys who played the dashing militant but were just big bullies after all.


SHARE:  Del.icio.us  Digg  My Web  Facebook  Reddit

Browse author
dolan@exile.ru
 
 
FROM THE VAULT
Travel
Winter Vacation Guide: Tropical Wonderland In Podmoskovie :
World
Sarkozy: The Ghost of Ariel Sharon :

Nemtsov’s White Paper: Bombshell or Dud? :

Top Of The World Clubbin' : Moscow From The Shadows To The 21st Floor
 

 
 
 
LATEST ARTICLES

Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
Editorial
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

Scanning Moscow’s Traffic Cops
Automotive Section
We’re happy to introduce a new column in which we publish Moscow’s raw radio communications, courtesy of a Russian amateur radio enthusiast. This issue, eXile readers are given a peek into the secret conversations of Moscow’s traffic police, the notorious "GAIshniki."

Eleven Years of Threats: The eXile's Incredible Journey
Feature Story By The eXile
Good Night, and Bad Luck: In a nation terrorized by its own government, one newspaper dared to fart in its face. Get out your hankies, cuz we’re taking a look back at the impossible crises we overcame.

Your Letters
[SIC!]
Russia's freedom-loving free market martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky answers some of this week's letters, and he's got nothing but praise for President Medvedev.

Clubbing Adventures Through Time
Club Review By Dmitriy Babooshka
eXile club reviewer Babooshka takes a trip through time with the ghost of Moscow clubbing past, present and future, and true to form, gets laid in the process.

The Fortnight Spin
Bardak Calendar By Jared Lindquist
Jared comes out with yet another roundup of upcoming bardak sessions.

Your Letters
[SIC!]
Richard Gere tackles this week's letters. Now reformed, he fights for gerbil rights all around the world.

13 Toxic Talents: Hollywood’s Worst Polluters
America By Eileen Jones
Everybody complains about celebrities, but nobody does anything about them. People, it’s time to stop fretting about whether we’re a celebrity-obsessed culture—we are, we have been, we’re going to be—and instead take practical steps to clean up the celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve got...

 
 
 

    MAIN    |    RUSSIA    |    WAR NERD     |    [SIC!]    |    BAR-DAK    |    THE VAULT    |    ABOUT US    |    RSS

© "the eXile". Tel.: +7 (495) 623-3565, fax: +7 (495) 623-5442
E-mail: office@exile.ru