A ferocious anti-Naipaul industry developed, with Naipaul dogged by accusations of racism and bigotry.
There is a repetitiveness in the attacks, which increasingly rely on a now well established vocabulary.
There was something eye-opening about the essays that began appearing in 1969 in the U. in , whether the subject was black power in the Caribbean, the terror and the banality in Argentina, ethnic bloodletting in Africa, or the wretchedness of India.
Naipaul, reporting on the growth pains of the postcolonial world, was a favorite of the literary establishment.
An effect of the realism of Naipaul’s writing style is that his portraits of individuals, e.g., Simon, manager of the company in Zaire, appear so unvarnished.
And because Simon does not simply stand for himself, but is also representative of an entire class of people, these portraits suggest sarcasm and condescension.
These essays were the outcome of travels to far-flung places of empire that were undertaken by Naipaul after the appearance of his breakthrough novel, writings was the blighted lives of inhabitants of “the world of half-made societies” (from his 1974 essay “Conrad’s Darkness”).
Empire was no more, but the institutions of the nations artificially created, seemingly ex nihilo, were expected to embody “Western” values.
They were to cease being more or less national cities; they were to become cities of the world, modern-day Romes, establishing the pattern of what great cities should be, in the eye of islanders like myself and people even more remote in language and culture.
They were to be cities visited for learning and elegant goods and manners and freedom by all the barbarian peoples of the globe, people of forest and desert, Arabs, Africans, Malays.