All the details of the life and the quirks and the friendships can be laid out for us, but the mystery of the writing will remain. No amount of documentation, however fascinating, can take us there.— V. S. Naipaul
The most courageous V. S. Naipaul quotes that are glad to read
I think when you see so many Hindu temples of the 10th century or earlier disfigured, defaced, you realise that something terrible happened. I feel the civilisation of that closed world was mortally wounded by those invasions the old world is destroyed. That has to be understood. Ancient Hindu India was destroyed.
In Trinidad, where as new arrivals we were a disadvantaged community, that excluding idea was a kind of protection; it enabled us - for the time being, and only for the time being - to live in our own way and according to our own rules, to live in our own fading India.
Ignorant people in preppy clothes are more dangerous to America than oil embargoes.
Argentine political life is like the life of an ant community or an African forest tribe: full of events, full of crisis and deaths, but life is always cyclical, and the year ends as it begins.
The melancholy thing about the world is that it is full of stupid people;
and the world is run for the benefit of the stupid and common.
Many writers tend to write summing-up books at the end of their lives.
The family feuds or the village feuds often had to do with an idea of honor.
Perhaps it was a peasant idea; perhaps this idea of honor is especially important to a society without recourse to law or without confidence in law.
To read a newspaper for the first time is like coming into a film that has been on for an hour. Newspapers are like serials. To understand them you have to take knowledge to them; the knowledge that serves best is the knowledge provided by the newspaper itself.
We made no inquiries about India or about the families people had left behind.
When our ways of thinking had changed, and we wished to know, it was too late. I know nothing of the people on my father's side; I know only that some of them came from Nepal
I'm my own writer. My material means I'm entirely separate.
As a child I knew almost nothing, nothing beyond what I had picked up in my grandmother's house. All children, I suppose, come into the world like that, not knowing who they are.
I came to London. It had become the center of my world and I had worked hard to come to it. And I was lost.
Life doesn't have a neat beginning and a tidy end;
life is always going on. You should begin in the middle and end in the middle, and it should be all there.
I'm the kind of writer that people think other people are reading.
Small things start us in new ways of thinking
In England people are very proud of being very stupid.
You can't deny what you've learned; you can't deny your travels; you can't deny the nature of your life.
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.
And it was strange, I thought, that sorrow lasts and can make a man look forward to death, but the mood of victory fills a moment and then is over
The past has to be seen to be dead; or the past will kill.
All the things that were read to me by my father were stories about things becoming all right.
In the beginning, before the arrival of the white men, I had considered myself neutral. I had wanted neither side to win, neither the army nor the rebels. As it turned out, both sides lost.
I still think it's really quite wonderful when I read a sentence of mine and it has that quality of lastingness.
But everything of value about me is in my books.
I don't feel I can speak with authority for many other people.
Look, boys, it ever strike you that the world not real at all? It ever strike you that we have the only mind in the world and you just thinking up everything else? Like me here, having the only mind in the world, and thinking up you people here, thinking up the war and all the houses and the ships and them in the harbour. That ever cross your mind?
In a way my reputation has become that of the curmudgeon.
Where jargon turns living issues into abstractions, and where jargon ends by competing with jargon, people don't have causes. They only have enemies.
If it was Europe that gave us on the coast some idea of our history, it was Europe, I feel, that also introduced us to the lie.
Nothing was made in Trinidad.
I feel that at any stage of my literary career it could have been said that the last book contained all the others.
I have always moved by intuition alone.
I have no system, literary or political. I have no guiding political idea.
If you decide to move to another country and to live within its laws you don't express your disregard for the essence of the culture. It's a form of aggression.
What was past was past. I suppose that was the general attitude.
To this day, if you ask me how I became a writer, I cannot give you an answer.
To this day, if you ask me how a book is written, I cannot answer. For long periods, if I didn't know that somehow in the past I had written a book, I would have given up.
I've been a free man.
It has had a calamitous effect on converted peoples.
To be converted you have to destroy your past, destroy your history. You have to stamp on it, you have to say 'my ancestral culture does not exist, it doesn't matter'.
Each book, intuitively sensed and, in the case of fiction, intuitively worked out, stands on what has gone before, and grows out of it.
What matters in the end in literature, what is always there, is the truly good.
And- though played out forms can throw up miraculous sports like The Importance of Being Earnest or Decline and Fall- what is good is always what is new, in both form and content. What is good forgets whatever models it might have had, and is unexpected; we have to catch it on the wing.
I went to India and met some people who had been involved in this guerrilla business, middle-class people who were rather vain and foolish. There was no revolutionary grandeur to it. Nothing.
Most people are not really free. They are confined by the niche in the world that they carve out for themselves. They limit themselves to fewer possibilities by the narrowness of their vision.
The Europeans wanted gold and slaves, like everybody else;
but at the same time they wanted statues put up to themselves as people who had done good things for the slaves.
It was a good place for getting lost in, a city no one ever knew, a city explored from the neutral heart outward, until after many years, it defined itself into a jumble of clearings separated by stretches of the unknown, through which the narrowest of paths had been cut.
One must always try to see the truth of a situation - it makes things universal.
Whatever extra there is in me at any given moment isn't fully formed.
I am hardly aware of it; it awaits the next book. It will - with luck - come to me during the actual writing, and it will take me by surprise
A businessman is someone who buys at ten and is happy to get out at twelve.
The other kind of man buys at ten, sees it rise to eighteen and does nothing. He is waiting for it to rise to twenty. When it drops to two he waits for it to get back to ten.
In our island myth this was the prescribed end of marriages like mine: the wife goes off with someone from the Cercle Sportif, outside whose gates at night the willingly betrayed husband waits in his motorcar. The circumstances were slightly.
People come and go all the time; the world has always been in movement.
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.