V.S. Naipaul: A Great Novelist
Introduction: Naipaul is one of the best known English novelists of the modern times. His popularity reached its zenith when he received the Nobel Prize for literature in 2001. He is regarded a prophet, a soothsayer, a doom-watcher and a teller of unpalatable truths. Critics generally agree that A House for Mr. Biswas is his finest work. His Half a Life is also a piece of literary craftsmanship.
Career: Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul is popularly known as V.S. Naipaul. This British writer is a very prestigious member of Indian Diaspora. He was born on August 17, 1932, in Trinidad. At that time Trinidad was British colony. Naipaul attained a scholarship and went to Oxford to study. His time in Oxford was not pleasant at all. There he suffered from isolation and despair. He completed his graduation in 1953. In the same year his father died. After this Naipaul lived rest of his life in England.
Naipaul’s prolific writing career includes works such as A House for Mr. Biswas, India: A Wounded Civilization, An Area of Darkness, India: A Million Mutinies Now, A Bend in the River, The Mystic Masseur, The Suffrage of Elvira, Guerrillas, Miguel Street, A Flag on the Island, The Mimic Men, In a Free State, Mr. Stone and the Knights Companion, The Enigma of Arrival, The Loss of El Dorado etc. Apart from the Nobel Prize, he won Booker Prize in 1971, the Jerusalem Prize in 1983 and David Cohen Award in 1993.
Controversy: Naipaul is one of the most controversial of contemporary writers. His scathing commentaries on India and his negative appraisal of life in the third world has met with a great deal of controversy. His views on the Hindutva and on the Islam are also very controversial.
Themes: Much of Naipaul's work deals with individuals who feel alienated from the society. They desperately seek a way to belong. The sense of rootlessness is also a recurrent theme in his work. His depiction of the peoples of Third World is fantastic. His best novel A House for Mr Biswas is an account of an individual's life and an allegory of the East Indian's situation in Trinidad. Its main character is always in search of a home. Miguel Street offers a gallery of vivid characters from Port of Spain. The Mystic Masseur is a satire on popular superstition and the unstable roots of political power in Trinidad. In a Free State the theme of the loss of roots becomes universalized. In The Mimic Men, In a Free State, Guerrillas and A Bend in the River Naipaul develops political themes. Half a Life follows the adventures of Indian Willie Chandran in post-war Britain.
Style: Naipaul is widely considered one of the world's finest authors. His prose exhibits narrative skill and command of language, especially dialect. In A House for Mr Biswas, the characters speak Hindi, as well as Trinidadian English. Naipaul has done an extraordinary job at characterization. His use of symbolism, irony and humour is praiseworthy. His wit is touching and unique. Many critics consider his early fiction superior to his later work. The use of autobiography to explore issues of culture and identity prepared the way for most of his woks.
Conclusion: In short, Naipaul’s literary contribution has received the highest recognition possible. He remains one of the most widely read and admired literary figures of the contemporary world. He has never been afraid to discuss the pains of his own.