Is Naipaul Postcolonial?


Do the works of V.S. Naipaul display critical consciousness? Does Naipaul reflect a writing culture that is steeped largely in Western tradition, adopting stereotypical representations of non-Western peoples? Or are his writings emblematic of a different type of mimicked post-colonial mentality, as Homi Bhabha would put it, White but not quite?

The items below are excerpts discussing these issues.

On February 21, 2002, V.S. Naipaul "made the news" again when he prematurely brought a three day writers conference in Neemrana, Rajasthan to an end. While attending a lecture by Nayantara Sehgal on "Shared Histories: Issues of Colonialism and Relationship with the Past," the Nobel laureate interrupted her mid-speech to ask, "Why do you keep drumming up the issue of colonialism?" It is not certain whether or not the second person reference in the question was addressed to Sehgal or writers concerned with India's colonial experience. Nonetheless, Naipaul followed up his initial outburst by criticizing Indian writers as "obsessed" with colonialism and that they should stop talking about it since India had been independent for over fifty years. A series of altercations ensued before the moderator, Amitav Gosh, decided to move on to the next speaker.

Source: "Sir Vidia loses temper again!" Feb. 21, 2002.

Some reactions to this incident, as discussed on the Postcolonial discussion list hosted by the University of Virginia listserv:


[Postimperial] [V. S. Naipaul] [Postcolonial Theory Overview]

Last Modified: 1 March 2002