Friday, June 3, 2011

VS Naipaul, Hack

Interesting story in the Guardian today with echoes of Christopher Hitchens's famous "women aren't funny piece" for Vanity Fair. VS Naipaul says that women can't write for toffee and no female writer is a match for him. None. Not even Jane Austen. 
The Nobel Prize for literature has for many decades been regarded as something of a joke. Geography, ethnicity and longevity are the prerequisites for obtaining the Nobel these days, not talent. But some people do take it seriously. Before VS Naipaul won the 2001 Nobel he had been a bit of a bore but emboldened by his Swedish coronation Naipaul's arrogance has grown to Chomskian levels. I've read VS Naipaul and he is no genius. He's a middling middle class novelist with a very laboured style, a tin ear for dialogue and a deadening, bland philosophy that he presents as some great truth he has uncovered from his rather limited experience of the world. Naipaul is well known for cutting people who annoy him out of his life (this includes long time friends and family members) and I imagine that nowadays he is surrounded largely by sycophants and yes men. Once a month he probably gets a fawning letter from his publisher. Perhaps this explains his delusion. Naipaul isn't in the same league as Jane Austen or George Eliot or Emily Bronte or even Charlotte Bronte. In a 100 years everyone will still be reading Jane Austen for pleasure while Naipaul will be reduced to a footnote.