The 2001 Nobel Prize winner, a literary genius, the 1971 Man Booker winner, a prolific writer who portrayed many issues pertaining to rootlessness, search for roots, existential crisis and many issues that seldom are discussed by other novelists of any age in any language – V. S. Naipaul has given his readers too many things to cherish. Now that we have come so far in the age of the digital revolution, should we care to reassess our interpretation or evaluation of this genius writer? V. S. Naipaul was not read as widely as we could have seen him being read, could not reach as many readers as he deserved and did not get the critical attention by Indian readers, critics and literary historians, as much as his works sanctioned him. Why?
It is hard to believe and acknowledge for many readers (who have read Naipaul) but the truth is that Naipaul’s works that he models on the Indian context, traditions and Hinduism serving as the major drive tend to become obscure and rather far from the average person’s realisation grasp. His most famous work, just because it has been included in the syllabuses of many universities in India, A House of Mr Biswas, also becomes obscure after a certain point and the general concept of a home takes shape into something entirely different and abstract. However, it is Naipaul who points out that re-reading Narayan led him into believing that Malgudi becomes a Hindu town and Narayan’s comedy become a Hindu response to the world… ironical but, surprisingly, re-reading Naipaul can also lead the same emotions out… in any reader with a basic knowledge of Hindu civilisation and culture (that is too difficult to grasp, by the way).
Naipaul’s novels are amazing in general. Readers like the substance as they read more and more. It’s the depth of his works, the core or the crest that might perplex the average readers of novels for entertainment and reading pleasure. Naipaul seems to be looking for things that are not available on the surface and one has to dive deeper into the ocean of existentialism to find those hidden secrets. More can be found out by reading Naipaul himself. However, one has to read his commentaries or non-fiction books at large.
Naipaul always lived the life of a conscious person who was too rooted in his consciousness of alienation. India – his home – was too close to him and too far at the same time. He has looking for something that belonged to him but had changed its form too much, at least in the appearance, that he did not want it but was constantly longing for the appearance of the past. An enigma, one can say…
V S Naipaul will take too many hours to be unfolded and one can only get to the truth by reading him more and more!
By Gunjan Sharma for Featured Books