November 15, 2016

V. S. Naipaul Quotes

“A businessman is someone who buys at ten and is happy to get out at twelve. The other kind of man buys at ten, sees it rise to eighteen and does nothing. He is waiting for it to rise to twenty. When it drops to two he waits for it to get back to ten.”

“All the details of the life and the quirks and the friendships can be laid out for us, but the mystery of the writing will remain. No amount of documentation, however fascinating, can take us there.”

“An autobiography can distort, facts can be realigned. But fiction never lies. It reveals the writer totally.”

“Argentine political life is like the life of an ant community or an African forest tribe: full of events, full of crisis and deaths, but life is always cyclical, and the year ends as it begins.”

“As a child I knew almost nothing, nothing beyond what I had picked up in my grandmother’s house. All children, I suppose, come into the world like that, not knowing who they are.”

“Before comfort had been squeezed out of the hard land, like blood out of stone.”

“But everything of value about me is in my books.”

“Each book, intuitively sensed and, in the case of fiction, intuitively worked out, stands on what has gone before, and grows out of it. I feel that at any stage of my literary career it could have been said that the last book contained all the others.”

“Everybody is interesting for an hour, but few people can last more than two.”

“I am the kind of writer that people think other people are reading.”

“I came to London. It had become the center of my world and I had worked hard to come to it. And I was lost.”

“I could scarcely bear to look at her eyes. They promised such intimacies.”

“I have trusted to my intuition to find the subjects, and I have written intuitively. I have an idea when I start, I have a shape; but I will fully understand what I have written only after some years.”

“I thought how terrible it would have been if, as could so easily have happened, I had died without knowing this depth of satisfaction, this other person that I had just discovered within myself. It was worth any price, any consequence.”

“If it was Europe that gave us on the coast some idea of our history, it was Europe, I feel, that also introduced us to the lie.”

“Ignorant people in preppy clothes are more dangerous to America than oil embargoes.”

“In the beginning, before the arrival of the white men, I had considered myself neutral. I had wanted neither side to win, neither the army nor the rebels. As it turned out, both sides lost.”

“In Trinidad, where as new arrivals we were a disadvantaged community, that excluding idea was a kind of protection; it enabled us – for the time being, and only for the time being – to live in our own way and according to our own rules, to live in our own fading India.”

“It was a good place for getting lost in, a city no one ever knew, a city explored from the neutral heart outward, until after many years, it defined itself into a jumble of clearings separated by stretches of the unknown, through which the narrowest of paths had been cut.”

“Life doesn’t have a neat beginning and a tidy end, life is always going on. You should begin in the middle and end in the middle, and it should be all there.”

“Men need history; it helps them to have an idea of who they are. But history, like sanctity, can reside in the heart; it is enough that there is something there.”

“One always writes comedy at the moment of deepest hysteria.”

“One isn’t born one’s self. One is born with a mass of expectations, a mass of other people’s ideas — and you have to work through it all.”

“That element of surprise is what I look for when I am writing. It is my way of judging what I am doing – which is never an easy thing to do.”

“The biography of a writer – or even the autobiography – will always have this incompleteness.”

“The Europeans wanted gold and slaves, like everybody else; but at the same time they wanted statues put up to themselves as people who had done good things for the slaves.”

“The family feuds or the village feuds often had to do with an idea of honor. Perhaps it was a peasant idea; perhaps this idea of honor is especially important to a society without recourse to law or without confidence in law.”

“The reason is that they define how I have gone about my business. I have trusted to intuition. I did it at the beginning. I do it even now. I have no idea how things might turn out, where in my writing I might go next.”

“The world is always in movement.”

“The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.”

“The world outside existed in a kind of darkness; and we inquired about nothing.”

“This is unusual for me. I have given readings and not lectures. I have told people who ask for lectures that I have no lecture to give. And that is true.”

“To read a newspaper for the first time is like coming into a film that has been on for an hour. Newspapers are like serials. To understand them you have to take knowledge to them;… best is the knowledge provided by the newspaper itself.”

“To this day, if you ask me how I became a writer, I cannot give you an answer. To this day, if you ask me how a book is written, I cannot answer. For long periods, if I didn’t know that somehow in the past I had written a book, I would have given up.”

“We made no inquiries about India or about the families people had left behind. When our ways of thinking had changed, and we wished to know, it was too late. I know nothing of the people on my father’s side; I know only that some of them came from Nepal.”

“What was past was past. I suppose that was the general attitude.”

“Whatever extra there is in me at any given moment isn’t fully formed. I am hardly aware of it; it awaits the next book. It will – with luck – come to me during the actual writing, and it will take me by surprise.”

“Worse, to have lived without even attempting to lay claim to one’s portion of the earth; to have lived and died as one has been born, unnecessary and unaccommodated.”