V. S. Naipaul on Writing (cont’d)

V. S. Naipaul in Reading & Writing: A personal account:

For every kind of experience there is a proper form, and I do not see what kind of novel I could have written about India. Fiction works best in a confined moral and cultural area, where the rules are generally known; and in that confined area it deals best with things—emotions, impulses, moral anxieties—that would be unseizable or incomplete in other literary forms.

The experience I had was particular to me. To do a novel about it, it would have been necessary to create someone like myself, someone of my ancestry and background, and work out some business which would have taken this person to India. It would have been necessary more or less to duplicate the original experience, and it would have added nothing. Tolstoy used fiction to bring the siege of Sebastopol closer, to give it an added reality. I feel that if I had attempted a novel about India, and mounted all that apparatus of invention, I would have been falsifying precious experience. The value of the experience lay in its particularity. I had to render it as faithfully as I could.

The above was posted to my personal weblog on June 27, 2005. My name is Peter Lindberg and I am a thirtysomething software developer and dad living in Stockholm, Sweden. Here, you’ll find posts in English and Swedish about whatever happens to interest me for the moment.


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