John Lukacs on Naipaul

John Lukacs


Naipaul is a very interesting thinker, and contrary to what Mr. [Edward] Said has said, he does not write for or pander to Western intellectuals. Naipaul writes a fine English prose, but it is not his style alone that makes him such an unusual writer. Unlike most other intellectuals, particularly those from ex-colonial countries, Naipaul is not a strident collector of injustices. In fact, he castigates some of the post-colonial countries themselves. He does not write principally about the trains not running on time, or the streets being dirty, or the garbage not being collected, though he is obviously not above noticing such things. His principal concern is not with injustice, or justice, but with truth. He is not bothered as much by the prevalence of injustice as by the prevalence of untruth. He is deeply concerned with the rhetoric of those who address public issues. And he wishes that not only more Easterners but also more Westerners were concerned with the ethics of rhetoric. Because this is the fatal sickness of intellectuals in the West, too… There hangs over our world a filthy, polluting cloud of untruth. And in this respect, a person like Naipaul should really merit all of our respect, because he is consumed by the easy acceptance of lies in our society, by the propagation of catchwords and formulas. [68]

[Postimperial] [V. S. Naipaul]

Last Modified: 1 March 2002