Naipaul's eccentric behaviour may be due to identity problem
November 5, 2001
I have read with interest the recent views and commentaries on V.S. Naipaul including your editorial [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] on 25.10.01.
Mr. Rampersaud states in a letter to the Chronicle that "the writer in Naipaul never gets the better of Naipaul the man". I am not sure what to make of that statement but I would like to make a distinction between Naipaul the writer and Naipaul the man. Mr. Naipaul is indeed a genius and is in a class of his own. While I salute, respect and admire Naipaul the writer, I cannot say the same for Naipaul the man.
I met Mr. Naipaul in Georgetown in 1992 prior to the general elections as he had indicated that he wanted to meet a cross-section of Guyanese to have a better feel for the country. He was classy, cordial and congenial - until he learned that I was an ardent Christian!
Armed with his greatest weapon, his ability with words, he humiliated and insulted me in some of the meanest ways possible. I was flabbergasted at the sudden change in mood and behaviour when he flippantly and abruptly made his exit. I gather that this is characteristic of Mr. Naipaul. While some may exult in this type of curtness, I find it unbecoming.
Since that incident I havepondered over just about every article that I have encountered that has been written by or about Mr. Naipaul. Mr. Rampersaud's letter supports my theory that Mr. Naipaul's eccentric behaviour may be a result of the "East Indian identity question that Naipaul confronted decades ago, and which contributed to his making England his home". In Mr. Naipaul's eyes, it seems, my identity as a Christian is not congruous to his experience in the West Indian society.