They were to cease being more or less national cities; they were to become cities of the world, modern-day Romes, establishing the pattern of what great cities should be, in the eye of islanders like myself and people even more remote in language and culture.They were to be cities visited for learning and elegant goods and manners and freedom by all the barbarian peoples of the globe, people of forest and desert, Arabs, Africans, Malays.Tags: Burger King Case Study Swot AnalysisCritical Thinking Study GuideSample Of Argumentative Essay PdfDissertation Layout TemplateStonehenge Term PaperDiscovery AssignmentSocial Work Masters CoursesHow To Improve Your Creative Writing Skills
These essays were the outcome of travels to far-flung places of empire that were undertaken by Naipaul after the appearance of his breakthrough novel, writings was the blighted lives of inhabitants of “the world of half-made societies” (from his 1974 essay “Conrad’s Darkness”).
Empire was no more, but the institutions of the nations artificially created, seemingly ex nihilo, were expected to embody “Western” values.
An egregious instance, again, is that of Edward Said, who called the writings by Naipaul “travel journalism [that is] unencumbered with much knowledge or information . Naipaul’s biographer, Patrick French, has written that Naipaul’s “response to the growth in his reputation as a villain was to stoke it.” One cannot help thinking that criticism also amused Naipaul and that his acerbic and offhand responses reflect his Trinidadian background, in particular the figure of the jokester that is prominent in the early fiction.
A term that truly enraged his critics was “barbarian,” which Naipaul used frequently in connection with Third World countries and peoples and which was assumed to encapsulate his loathing and condescension.
His critics simply could not get past its present connotations, which, besides the contrast to “civilized,” suggest depravity and evil.
The word appears in context in Cities like London were to change.For instance, the writer Caryl Phillips has taken Naipaul to task for his misanthropy, his lack of compassion, and his sardonic bitter tone, for neglecting (unlike, e.g., Wole Soyinka or Chinua Achebe) “to give his community a past,” and for serving as a “Eurocentric foreign correspondent for the West.” Without a doubt, especially when contrasted with the early Trinidadian fiction, Naipaul’s vision had turned dark.It is a vision with which one can find fault, as did Irving Howe in his review of A novelist has to be faithful to what he sees, and few see as well as Naipaul; yet one may wonder whether, in some final reckoning, a serious writer can simply allow the wretchedness of his depicted scene to become the limit of his vision.In that work Naipaul turned his gaze on the effect of Islamic imperialism on the peoples of four non-Arabic Muslim countries (Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia).As he would later write, “no colonization had been so thorough as the colonization that had come with the Arab faith,” eradicating, as it did, all vestiges of pre-Muslim history.Living in a no-man’s land of the soul, their relation to the West was that of “mimic men.” Thus Simon (in the 1975 essay “A New King for the Congo”), manager of a nationalized company in the former Zaire, who had “a background of the bush”: It is with people like Simon, educated, moneymaking, that the visitor feels himself in the presence of vulnerability, dumbness, danger.Because their resentments, which appear to contradict their ambitions, and which they can never satisfactorily explain, can at any time be converted into a wish to wipe out and undo, an African nihilism, the rage of primitive men coming to themselves and finding that they have been fooled and affronted.While Naipaul has not given any indication that he took an interest in Solzhenitsyn’s writings, his accounts of the effects of colonialism on native peoples—in (first English publication, 1974).And just as Solzhenitsyn failed to display the gratitude of an exile and instead called attention to the spiritual vacuity of the West, Naipaul was denounced in attacks that neglected to deal with the substance of his writing. unrestrained by genuine learning or self-education.” Whatever his interpretation of facts on the ground, Naipaul was steeped in the historical sources, and Said’s wrong-headed response, like that to Solzhenitsyn, reflects the ideological distortions of the present age.The reference to “Malays” at the end of that passage might alert a careful reader that Britain’s former colonial possessions are meant here, standing to London as once had stood the peoples on the periphery of the Roman world to its great capital city.If London before World War II represented the center of the civilized world, its imperium consisted, in the same sense, of numerous barbarians (as the Greeks had referred to surrounding peoples, ignorant of Greek customs), unable to speak the mother language (or spoke it poorly) or understand its customs, but who were nonetheless expected to pay tribute to the center’s institutions.