Original Research

V.S. Naipaul’s Half a life, Magic seeds and globalisation

R. Balfour
Literator | Vol 28, No 1 | a148 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v28i1.148 | © 2007 R. Balfour | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 July 2007 | Published: 30 July 2007

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Abstract

Naipaul’s work has been described as an examination of “the clash between belief and unbelief, the unravelling of the British Empire, the migration of peoples” (Donadio, 2005). Controversial both in terms of his perceptions of postcolonial nations (Said, 1978) and of postcolonial literary criticism (King, 1993), Naipaul, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001, at an earlier point declared the novel dead and postcolonial nations half-baked. Despite his provocative pronouncements and his readers’ criticisms (the most stringent and extensive critique by Nixon (1992)), Naipaul is too important to be marginalised. While major contemporaries have ceased to be productive (Walcott, Ondaatje, Soyinka) Naipaul’s voice continues to be heard, his tones new, his perspective flexible enough to apprehend new phenomena in culture and politics, and his critique sufficiently disturbing to merit critical attention. Despite accusations of being a postcolonial lackey, a reactionary, a racist, and a misogynist, he has survived, and not only because of his elegant prose.

My purpose in this article is to explore his 21st century writing as a critical understanding of the postcolonial phenomenon of globalisation as a cultural and economic force which is a development and consequence of imperialism and decolonisation. I shall argue that as a phenomenon, globalisation differs from postcolonialism, in the interaction it brings about between marginalised classes and nations and those who by virtue of class, economic power or race are defined as being at the centre in the 21st century.

Keywords

Decolonisation; Globalisation; Imperialism; Marginalisation; Migration And Exile; Postcolonial Critics On Literature; Postcolonial Nations

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