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Prologue

Lacrimae Rerum, “The Tears of Things”

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 February 2024

Vijay Mishra
Affiliation:
Murdoch University, Western Australia
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Summary

The Prologue offers an autobiographical account of a scholar’s first encounter with Naipaul’s foundational novel, A House for Mr Biswas. It locates the reading of it in a colonial world defined by the arrival of indentured labourers to colonial sugar plantations. It is suggested that a writer needs a constituency, which is often a recognizable society or country that understands him. Likewise a researcher, a scholar, or a critic, too, needs a recognizable writer who, to vary Lionel Trilling’s recall of a phrase by W. H. Auden about “a real book” reading us, reads him or her. A book reads the critic, the scholar, and nowhere is this reciprocity of reading more marked than in someone from V. S. Naipaul’s own sugar plantation diaspora reading him. Important West Indian writers like Derek Walcott, Caryl Phillips, and Kenneth Ramchand, variously, make the claim that the children of indenture are Naipaul’s best readers. Naipaul himself had observed that his earlier “social comedies” can be “fully appreciated only by someone who knows the region” he writes about. The Prologue ends with the reception of Naipaul upon the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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  • Prologue
  • Vijay Mishra, Murdoch University, Western Australia
  • Book: V. S. Naipaul and World Literature
  • Online publication: 01 February 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009433853.001
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  • Prologue
  • Vijay Mishra, Murdoch University, Western Australia
  • Book: V. S. Naipaul and World Literature
  • Online publication: 01 February 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009433853.001
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.

  • Prologue
  • Vijay Mishra, Murdoch University, Western Australia
  • Book: V. S. Naipaul and World Literature
  • Online publication: 01 February 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009433853.001
Available formats
×