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“A Fragrant of Forgotten Experience”

A House for Mr. Biswas is full of beautiful passages.

But this one might be the best:

Occasionally, a nerve of memory is touched—a puddle reflecting the blue sky after rain, a pack of thumbed cards, the fumbling with a shoe-lace, the smell of a new car, the sound of a stiff wind through trees, the smells and colours of a toyshop, the taste of milk and prunes—and a fragrant of forgotten experience would be dislodged, isolated, puzzling […]. So later, and very slowly, in securer times of different stresses, when the memories had lost the power to hurt, with pain or joy, they would fall into place and give back the past.

Ever had a smell take you back to your childhood? Or just the sight of something small and innocuous dislodge an old memory you haven’t thought about in years?

I definitely have, and Naipaul’s writing in that passage is impeccable.I love this sentence in particular: “A fragrant of forgotten experience would be dislodged…”Such great descriptions.

And guess what? I’m FINALLY about to finish this book. I plan on reviewing it next Wednesday.

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. I bought this books ages ago, but never got to read it. You inspired me: I should check it out again. What I have discovered is that there is a time for each book and it would appear that the time had not come for Mr Biswas. But perhaps now is the time!


    January 29, 2015
  2. Oh, my gosh! You make me want to go back and re-read this book. It’s kind of . . . boring in parts, but the writing is so indulgent and descriptive. So prosaic in even the most humdrum of scenes. Thanks for sharing your experience with this book. Nostalgic for me.


    January 29, 2015
    • I agree. It does get boring and a little overly descriptive at times. But the writing is just beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

      January 29, 2015
      • Oh, I agree completely. That is what makes the boring worth it. lol


        January 29, 2015
  3. I enjoy reading your posts Robert and really admire your passion and commitment to this huge task you’ve set yourself. I hate that my first comment is a critical one but the word site above ought to be sight 🙂


    January 29, 2015
  4. Oh I do love a beautifully written passage and book. I might have to actually read this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    January 29, 2015
  5. Excellent excerpt. One thing I did notice is that Mr. Naipaul breaks some of his own rules. He uses long sentences and adverbs like very slowly and occasionally. Guess he gets off because they are his rules. And there is something abstract about the phrase “a fragrant of forgotten experience” and “securer times of different stresses”. The problem with rules is a lot of times we make them, then ignore them completely.


    January 29, 2015
  6. Fragrances ALWAYS take me back to different times and places. Lovely excerpt.


    January 30, 2015
  7. Hi!
    I really like your Blog, so I nominated you to the “Versatile Blogger Awards”. My blog is in spanish, but hopefully you’ll visit? hehe. It’s


    January 31, 2015
  8. TFM #

    That’s one of my favourite passages from the book!! Must reread tonight, thanks for reminding me 🙂


    February 2, 2015
  9. Already added this book for discussion in End of Life Reading List class. I’m not usually good with or inspired by smells, but an unusual one that is connected with interesting memories is vinegar. My bubbie used vinegar to rinse my hair when she bathed me as a child. I think that’s a smell-related sensation that might fit nicely in a novel or story sometime.


    February 5, 2015

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The TBR Chronicles–January 2015 | Lilolia
  2. Book #77: A House For Mr. Biswas | 101 Books

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