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Naipaul: Indian Writers Have No Sense of History

on 2001/8/17 9:46:02 ( 1125 reads )

Source: The Hindu

LONDON UK AUG. 12, 2001: "The full text of Mr. V.S. Naipaul's interview to the Literary Review is now available and Indian writers are not likely to be amused by what Sir Vidia thinks of them. In short, he says Indian writing exists in a historical vacuum. R.K. Narayan is singled out for "lacking a sense of history, his writing 'hangs in the air' because of a lack of historical perspective." This will likely infuriate the liberal opinion in India due to Naipaul's admiration for "movements from below," such as the Shiv Sena which, he says, are more authentic than the "middle class chaps with no feel for the wretched of the earth." In what many might regard as a sweeping generalization, Mr. Naipaul says, "The thing about being an Indian, and it remains true of Indian writing now, is that it seems to work without history, in a vacuum. Indian writers don't know why their country is in such a mess. They can't understand the poverty of India, they don't know why early travelers talk of a derelict countryside. Very easy to think that it might be because of the British but much easier in fact to pay no attention to it at all. This lack in Indian writing, even Narayan's writing, is a fatal flaw." He attacks Jawaharlal Nehru for encouraging a certain "construct' of Indian history which, he believes, is a refusal to face facts. The Nehruvian idea of India, he argues, was constructed to get the independence movement off the ground. "They had to get people together for the independence movement, and they had to tell stories." Naipaul is considered one of the world's foremost authors in English today.

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