In This Chapter

V.S. Naipaul

The Writer as the Last Free Man

Authored by: Nicholas Laughlin

The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature

Print publication date:  June  2011
Online publication date:  June  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415485777
eBook ISBN: 9780203830352
Adobe ISBN: 9781136821745


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The act of writing, the nature of literature itself and the role of the writer are consistent and major themes in the works of V.S. Naipaul. His earliest writing to have appeared in print, the family correspondence collected in Letters Between a Father and Son (1999), is obsessively concerned with Naipaul’s ambition to become a writer. His recent book A Writer’s People (2007), is a series of critical essays ranging over topics from West Indian authors of the 1940s and 1950s to the autobiographical books of Gandhi and Nirad Chaudhuri. The critic Bruce King has noted that Naipaul’s books are ‘filled with characters who write, want to write or pretend to write’ (2003: 6). And in the latter half of his career – beginning with the long essay ‘Prologue to an Autobiography’ ([1984] 2003) – Naipaul has repeatedly revisited his earlier writing, taking his own vocation and the development of his literary skill for his subject. The result is a subtle and complicated analysis of what he calls his ‘way of seeing’, of his own literary ethics and aesthetics.

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