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The enigma of arrival by V. S. Naipaul

The enigma of arrival (1987)

by V. S. Naipaul

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Showing 4 of 4
Barely disguised autobiography marred by an overweening solipsism, for all the quality and precision of the writing. It as if the characters (and places) of the book exist for the narrator only when his gaze falls upon them, or he finds himself in need of something; their lives outside the narrow space inside his head exist only as muffled details.
  tallpaul | Mar 16, 2011 |
The Enigma of Arrival is one of V. S. Naipaul's masterpieces. In this autobiographical novel he successfully conveys to the reader the atmosphere of the English countryside through the meditations of the narrator on his original journey from Trinidad to England. Through the mind of the narrator we experience the fictional reality of the world-a world of Naipaul's making. Echoes from both James Joyce and Marcel Proust are visible in the narration of the novel. This seems a quiet book, but it is a powerful one. The book is composed of four sections which reflect the growing familiarity and changing perceptions of Naipaul upon his arrival in various countries after leaving his native Trinidad and Tobago.
Most of the action of the novel takes place in England where Naipaul has rented a cottage in the countryside. The feeling of 'the place' is palpable and the evocation of 'place' is underlined by the physical effects and the history of the people and their artifacts. On first arriving, he sees the area surrounding his cottage as a frozen piece of history, unchanged for hundreds of years. However, as his stay at the cottage where he is working on another book becomes extended, he begins to see the area for what it is: a constantly changing place with ordinary people simply living lives away from the rest of the world. This causes Naipaul to reflect upon the nature of our perceptions of our surroundings and how much these perceptions are affected by our own pre-conceptions of a place.
As he re-examines his own emigration from Trinidad to New York, and his subsequent removal to England and Oxford Naipaul's narration illustrates the growing understanding of his place in this new environment and the intricate relations of the people and the land around them. The result is a magnificent read that is encouragement to savor other novels by this Nobel laureate author. ( )
4 vote jwhenderson | Jul 17, 2008 |
Quiet--relaxing--a nice break. If you're looking for a relaxing read through the English countryside, this is a good choice. It does get off to a slow start in some ways, but the landscape is described so beautifully that if you are willing to take your time with the text, it's nearly as if you're there and taking a vacation yourself. It's also a really interesting look at writers and writing; if you're interested in country house literature, writing, or transcontinental ideas of literature, I highly recommend this. ( )
2 vote whitewavedarling | Dec 31, 1969 |
Showing 4 of 4
The book lacks the bitter taste of some of his recent writing, but it is one of the saddest books I have read in a long while, its tone one of unbroken melancholy.

After an interesting, and courageous, account of his formation as a writer, Naipaul returns to his Wiltshire microcosm, and it turns out that his narrator's exhaustion and turning-towards-death is mirrored in his tiny world...All this is evoked in delicate, precise prose of the highest quality, but it is bloodless prose.
added by tallpaul | editThe Guardian, Salman Rushdie (Mar 13, 1987)

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
V. S. Naipaulprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nielsen, Rose-MarieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In loving memory of my brother SHIVA NAIPAUL
25 February 1945, Port of Spain
13 August 1985, London
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For the first four days it rained.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0394757602, Paperback)

The story of a writer's singular journey—from one place to another, from the British colony of Trinidad to the ancient countryside of England, and from one state of mind to another—this is perhaps Naipaul's most autobiographical work. Yet it is also woven through with remarkable invention to make it a rich and complex novel.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:06 -0400)

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"The autobiographical novel of a journey from the British colony of Trinidad to the ancient countryside of England."--Publisher's description.

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