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Chapter 5 - In the Shadow of the Master

A Bend in the River

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 February 2024

Vijay Mishra
Affiliation:
Murdoch University, Western Australia
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Summary

Chapter 5 marks Naipaul’s serious turn to Africa. In his first significant book on Africa, In a Free State (1971), Naipaul does not write the formulaic postcolonial novel; what he does is explore colonial repression, the silent, menacing, underside of the spirit of Victorian expansionism. And he does this in the shadow of the master, Conrad. To Naipaul, Conrad’s Africa is such a powerful foundational discourse that it shapes his reading of Africa, and especially of the Congo. But it also provides the right intertext for his own great work on Africa, A Bend in the River. The chapter argues that in the hands of Naipaul postcolonial reconstruction, decolonization, and the restructuring of class relations have a narrative function where an aesthetic impulse is always present. In that transformation human relations, and their representation, become important. For Naipaul, any new history – postcolonial or revisionist – remains equally “opaque” if in the absence of an open-ended critique it transforms social history into the dangerous, imperialist, great man narrative of history, precisely the kind of great man history celebrated under imperialism.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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  • In the Shadow of the Master
  • Vijay Mishra, Murdoch University, Western Australia
  • Book: V. S. Naipaul and World Literature
  • Online publication: 01 February 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009433853.007
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  • In the Shadow of the Master
  • Vijay Mishra, Murdoch University, Western Australia
  • Book: V. S. Naipaul and World Literature
  • Online publication: 01 February 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009433853.007
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • In the Shadow of the Master
  • Vijay Mishra, Murdoch University, Western Australia
  • Book: V. S. Naipaul and World Literature
  • Online publication: 01 February 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009433853.007
Available formats
×