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The Best Quotes From V.S. Naipaul

Although I’m really enjoying A House for Mr. Biswas, I haven’t had a lot of good things to say about V.S. Naipaul as a person (although his Nobel speech was pretty awesome).

But let’s face it–no matter what you or I think about him as a person, he’s an amazing writer, and he actually has a lot of amazing insight as well.

I try to talk about the good and the bad of each author and book I cover, even though it’s often slanted in one direction or the other. So, today, instead of focusing on the crappy things V.S. Naipaul has said (of which there are many, and of which I will talk about more), let’s focus on some of his more positive and insightful quotes.

I’ve scoured the bowels of the literary internet and determined the quotes below are some of my favorites from Naipaul. I pulled these from Good Reads and Brainy Quote

“The only lies for which we are truly punished are those we tell ourselves.”

“Non-fiction can distort; facts can be realigned. But fiction never lies.”

“If ever you wish to meet intellectual frauds in quantity, go to Paris.”

“One isn’t born one’s self. One is born with a mass of expectations, a mass of other people’s ideas – and you have to work through it all.”

“It’s very attractive to people to be a victim. Instead of having to think out the whole situation, about history and your group and what you are doing… if you begin from the point of view of being a victim, you’ve got it half-made.”

“My life is short. I can’t listen to banality.”

“I have trusted to my intuition to find the subjects, and I have written intuitively. I have an idea when I start, I have a shape; but I will fully understand what I have written only after some years.”

“One always writes comedy at the moment of deepest hysteria.”

“If writers just sit and talk about oppression, they are not going to do much writing.”

“A cat only has itself.”

I wish I knew where that cat quote came from. Would love to see the context. I’m just trusting the fine folks at Brainy Quote that Naipaul actually said it. Naive, I suppose.

Good quotes, though.

I’ll post some of the ridiculous, asinine things Naipual has said next week.

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. I really like this one: “If ever you wish to meet intellectual frauds in quantity, go to Paris.” Only I would change it. If ever you wish to meet incompetence, go to Congress.

    Liked by 2 people

    January 8, 2015
  2. If you’re a writer, definitely this is worth thinking about every time one approaches a manuscript.


    January 8, 2015
  3. V. S. Naipaul is a talented author. I’ve only read a few of his works, but his prose is quite good. I am not surprised he’s so quotable.


    January 8, 2015
  4. Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    The Best Quotes From V.S. Naipaul – thanks Robert!

    Liked by 1 person

    January 8, 2015
  5. aeolianlyre #

    My favorites

    “One isn’t born one’s self. One is born with a mass of expectations, a mass of other people’s ideas – and you have to work through it all.”

    “My life is short. I can’t listen to banality.”


    January 8, 2015
  6. This explains the origin of the cat quote –

    Around the time of that birthday, Nadira Naipaul, a charismatic Pakistani journalist who has been married to Sir Vidia since 1996, had gone with some friends to an animal shelter. She returned with a cat as a gift for her husband. The moment of his first contact with it was a revelation. “The cat was very frightened,” he told me. “It’s a little animal. It only has itself. It’s very frightened, and it tried to run away, but of course it couldn’t. It climbed up a screen door, the way animals can do, but then I touched it and something remarkable happened—happened with my touch. The cat recognized this is a friendly hand. He recognized it immediately and became easy. And, within an hour or two, he was walking all over. So it became a friend.”

    Lady Naipaul’s theory is that the cat awakened in her husband emotional responses that had lacked in him before. He is coy about that idea: “That’s her view, her view.” But he allows that having the cat, feeling for it, sensing its fragility “has made me understand the brutality of people.”

    And, more than once, he repeated this idea: “A cat only has itself.”


    January 9, 2015
  7. Reblogged this on Eu Vivo a Melhor Idade and commented:


    March 28, 2015

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Worst Quotes From V.S. Naipaul | 101 Books
  2. Book #77: A House For Mr. Biswas | 101 Books

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