Letters Between A Father And Son
Naipaul ,, V.S. & Naipaul, Seepersad & Naipaul, Kamla
Little Brown & Company
literatuur,Biography, Biografie, Autobiography, India, Nobel Prize
1999, cloth hardcover with dust jacket, good copy
Writing to his eldest son, Vidia, at Oxford in 1950, Seepersad Naipaul observed: "Your letters are charming in their spontaneity. If you could write me letters about things and people--especially people--at Oxford, I could compile them in a book." Nearly 50 years later, the father's desire has been fulfilled by his son with the publication of V.S. Naipaul's Letters Between a Father and Son. The collection covers the period between Naipaul's departure from his native Trinidad in 1950 to study at Oxford to the untimely death of his father in 1953 at the age of 47. Alongside the letters between father and son are those between Naipaul and his older sister, Kamla, a student at the Benares Hindu University in India, who is advised by her then-17-year-old brother to "watch your personal effects carefully; the Indians are a thieving lot."
At the heart of the book lie Naipaul's undergraduate life at Oxford and his father's deeply moving support for his son as he strives to maintain his own writing career while Naipaul's literary talent flowers. The minutiae of Naipaul's college life offer a fascinating account of the genesis of the querulous, fussy, and patrician Naipaul of later years. The letters are full of stories of his endless rounds of tea parties, writing for the Oxford journal Isis, flirting with women, and endless requests for cigarettes from home. But the most revealing and moving dimension of the collection is the love and friendship between father and son. Seepersad vents his own literary frustrations upon his son while at the same time assuring Naipaul of his unconditional support: "I feel so darned cocksure that I can produce a novel within six months--if only I had nothing else to do. This is impossible. But I want to give you this chance." Seepersad's sudden death is very affecting, as is Naipaul's telegraphed response home: "Everything I owe to him." This is a deeply revealing collection of one of the most enigmatic writers of the postwar period, and it offers an absorbing insight into Naipaul's early fiction, particularly The Mystic Masseur and Miguel Street. --Jerry Brotton, Amazon.co.uk
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