What to Study to be a WriterTo study what to become a writer?
Shattering dual vision of V. S. Naipaul
Throughout the years I have come back to a picture: a young author, a twenty-six-year-old native of India, is sitting at a writing table in a small apartment in Streatham Hill, a humble area in the south of London. This young author is incredibly self-confident and incredibly vulnerable: in some ways priviledged (he went to Oxford, and he knows that he is more gifted than his fellow writers), in others completely helpless (he is an Indians at work in the old, despicable empire metropole, but he is not even from India - he was raised in Trinidad, where his grandpa was taken to the sugar cane plantation as a laborer).
However, the author who is working on this story is from both the islands and not from the isle. He escaped - as far as Oxford - unlike his dad, and he knows he will never come back to Trinidad. Why couldn't the opinion he made in "A House for Mr. Biswas" mirror the inconsistencies that dominated (and to some extent plagued) Naipaul's whole being?
When the snobby and racialist British Oxford student glanced down at Seepersad Naipaul (if they even spotted him), the young Vidia Naipaul was probably willing to agree: "Seen from Oxford or London, Seepersad's performance was not only small, but perhaps ridiculous or humbling. But once young Vidia returned to Trinidad, back to his father's position - and the fanciful work of the writer - how could he not vigorously protect the attainment of his father's lifetime, a lifetime all the greater than that of the snobby Oxonian, because it was made of so little?
As Mr Biswas becomes a kind of novelist, Naipaul's novel is inevitably a novel about the achievements of his own script, about the fight to find the words - a fight that is passed from father to a more gifted boy.... (Seepersad Naipaul admitted that his twenty-year-old boy was a better author than he was forty.
There is a wonderful time, later in " A-House for Mr. Biswas ", when the scriptures open and briefly touch the sorrow (and comfort) of such inconsistencies. Now the Biswas have moved to the little home of Mr. Biswas in Sikkim Street. Anand ( "Vidia" character), one of Mr. Biswas's children, received a grant to go abroad.
The Biswas kids will soon begin to overlook some of their early experience; other recollections get mixed up, an alienation overdone by life abroad. In his silly old years, the author, who would assault Proust, starts a beautiful proustic complaint: Certainly this is the young London author who describes his own recollections, his own trigger, a thought that Naipaul maintains:
Later, and very gradually, in safer periods of varying stress, when the memory had become powerless to injure itself, with sorrow or pleasure, it fell to its place and gave back the past. Nominell writes Naipaul about Anand Bisse. Actually, he writes about himself - Vidia in Oxford ("in a sudden darkness in a library") and then in London ("in safer periods of varying stress").
For the young man in South London, the memory of Trinidad is sorrowful and joyous, and how he writes his epos both exposing and curing a sore ( "when the memory has no strength to hurt"). Naipaul is cool and classic, referring to his own great performance: