A Way In The World

In https://derrickjknight.com/2022/05/09/the-enigma-of-arrival/ I observe that ‘this outstanding work chronicles the life history of the man interlaced with that of the writer,

Once again in ‘A Way in the World’, the writer seems to be in search of himself and his global arrival through the voices of fictional narrators. On this occasion the geographical and historical sweeps are far broader, taking us backwards and forwards in time from the author’s roots in Trinidad, around the Caribbean and the mainlands of Europe, South America and Africa from the days of Sir Walter Raleigh.

Is this a novel? Is it a world history? Is it a memoir? V.S. Naipaul, the author claims the work is a novel. It is in the form as he has stretched it.

It is also an exploration of the human condition, including political, emotional, and racial realities; people’s essential self interest, cruelty, hatred and fear of differences between groups and cultures. Racism, ambition, open and disguised conflicts are prevalent. I learned much about the dreadful conditions of slavery in the colonial and post-colonial Caribbean. The consequences of political emancipation in Africa are portrayed in the last chapter of this sequence of linked narratives.

There is evidence of warmth and trust between individuals, and the writer’s humour remains a feature. Fundamentally the stories are of people who are struggling, often unsuccessfully, yet with hope, to find ‘A Way in the World’. The writer has represented his own origins and arrival at literary maturity over five centuries.

This is the illustration which adorns the front cover of Heinemann’s paperback edition of 1994.

The Enigma Of Arrival

This morning I posted https://derrickjknight.com/2022/05/09/flos-take-on-the-house-in-the-wood/

The rest of the day was spent on finishing reading “The Enigma Of Arrival”, by V.S.Naipaul.

The sub-title ‘A Novel’ is necessary, otherwise, particularly as the first person narrator drives in England as a 17 year old Trinidadian, as did the writer.

This outstanding work chronicles the life history of the man interlaced with that of the writer.

It was the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who believed https://derrickjknight.com/2014/01/25/all-is-flux-nothing-stays-still/

Naipaul demonstrates this in the book. Through three decades he follows the changes in the experiences of a Wiltshire village in which he settles; the gradual dwindling of the significance of a decaying Manor House and its denizens; the development of changes to buildings, countryside, and gardens; the comings and goings of residents, personnel, and their relationships; interwoven lives and deaths.

Simultaneously he progresses the evolution of a neophyte to a maturing author through the device of returning to triggered memories and describing them afresh in later contexts, layering them like the patina of a precious, fondly handled piece of antique treen.

The writer contrasts the cycles of natural seasons with those of humanity and its artefacts; plants like ivy return naturally, whereas others, such as roses need careful maintenance, as do buildings.

The language flows beautifully; bucolic and gardening descriptions are thoroughly delightful. His characterisation has depth and understanding.

I would have been very happy to have possessed the skill to have written this book.

As I was drafting this, Elizabeth e-mailed me a few more photographs from yesterday’s trip.

The forest floor picture fitted quite well with Naipaul’s theme.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausages in red wine; boiled new potatoes in their skins; crunchy carrots; and tender broccoli, green and runner beans, with which she drank Diet Cola, Flo drank Elderflower Cordial, and I drank Mendoza Malbec 2019.