The Isolation of Mr. Biswas
Yeah, I’m not a big fan of V.S. Naipaul, the person. But, man, can that dude write.
The poetic nature of his writing reminds me a little of Fitzgerald. Here’s another beautiful passage from A House for Mr. Biswas:
“He read political books. They gave him phrases which he could only speak to himself and use on Shama. They also revealed one region after another of misery and injustice and left him feeling more helpless and more isolated than ever. Then it was that he discovered the solace of Dickens. Without difficulty he transferred characters and settings to people and places he knew. In the grotesques of Dickens everything he feared and suffered from was ridiculed and diminished, so that his own anger, his own contempt became unnecessary, and he was given strength to bear the most difficult part of his day: dressing in the morning, that daily affirmation of faith in oneself, which at times for him was almost like an act of sacrifice.”
Naipaul really paints a picture of Biswas as a beaten, tired man: “He was given strength to bear the most difficult part of his day: dressing in the morning…”
He’s isolated, depressed, and prone to read political books—which, to me, would seem even more likely to make one feel isolated and depressed. I think I’d rather read instruction manuals for the rest of my life than read one political book. But not Mr. Biswas.
Anyway, the novel continues on. I’m getting close to finishing it (I promise!), and I’ll hopefully be reviewing it within the next week or so.