Bhopal: The Mystic has just walked off the stage but the Masseur remains. The name of Sir V S Naipaul evokes nostalgia among Indians. They treat the Nobel laureate as their own. Much loved and much criticized. Naipaul created a world – a world – that connects his readers straight with the one of Dickens’s. Still, it was his planet, his own.
His search for that mystic world began when he was just 10. Casting around in desperation for a subject, he began telling the story of a man modelled on his father Seepersad, a journalist. A House for Mr Biswas charts the setbacks and indignities suffered by a man born to Indian parents in rural Trinidad.
His struggled to search for a home he can call his own. And that quest continued till he saw the last ray of the sun. This was how scholars in the city reacted to the passing away of Naipaul. Excerpts:
An author, Padma Shri Ramesh Chandra Shah said, “Naipaul earned the unique place literature. He speaks of his ancestral land with conviction. We are proud of his achievements. He made himself a great observer of cultural dislocation in Among The Believers.”
Theatre actor and director Alok Chatterjee said, “Yes. I have read his work In a Free State. He was a world class writer. Despite living in London, India was in his heart. A Caribbean writer as he was, most of his works have a universal appeal.”
Chatterjee further said, “He was not anti-Islamic. He was known as pro-Hindu and controversial writer for his comments, though. Yet, he was the inspiration for young novelists. The readers of English literature have lost a great author.”
Head of the department of English, MLB College and president of Club Literati Seema Raizada said, “He had different takes on issues. His writing was very honest and due to this, he received lot of criticism. I read his classic A House for Mr Biswas. I love its characterisation and way of storytelling. He was eminent and recognised voice which we lost. Many great authors come and go, but their legacy will always continue.”
“He was controversial but important. I love his autobiography that is fabulous. His short stories and essays are also outstanding. I have a collection of his essays. He was like Nirmal Verma in Hindi,” said novelist, Pamda Sri Manzoor Ahtesham
“He was a prominent novelist of the post-colonial literature. He voiced with intense poignancy of cultural and spiritual poverty of Trinidad. His wit, a keen eye for details and a never-to-please anyone attitude, but himself is apparent in his work,” said head of the department of English in BBSS, Supriya.
A student of English Literature Nishant Mishra said, “Naipaul’s magnum opus, A House for Mr. Biswas is his best literary project. The novel not only discusses Naipaul’s lust for home but also recapitulates his fissured identity in this post-colonial globe. It gives a pen-portrait of one’s quest for home in urban space where a person, ultimately, realises that it is not his home he craved for but a house.”