Literary Occasions by V. S. Naipaul – Review

Literary Occasions by V. S. Naipaul is a collection of a few long essays and also appended to it is the Nobel Prize lecture that we also know as the Banquet Speech. This collection opens the door to many facets of the versatile personality of the great novelist that we know. An Indian by heart and a Trinidadian by birth, Naipaul always kept his heart before his mind and that is why we see in his novels, the greatest and the average of them, many things that reflect Indianness. Yes, just like Indianness in Indian English poetry, we can also trace Indianness in Indian English novels. 

The first essay (rather the prologue – on reading and writing) outlines the psychological leanings of the author and we get to learn more about V. S. Naipaul’s interest in reading and writing and his passage as a novelist – how did it happen and why and also the how is answered in this essay. In all the long essays in this book, Naipaul digs out what interested him and what he did out of these interests. Yes, as a reader, it is seldom that you can escape from being impressed by his brilliance with the words and the ideas to order these words in the best positions to create the magic of an enchanting language flow. 

In part 2 of the essays, Naipaul takes on the works by Nirad Chaudhury and Joseph Conrad and critiques them. In critiquing, there is no fun but a great sense of critical and objective appeal about the writing of Naipaul. He analyses the points he mentions very carefully and brings the best and the worst of the writing out to the readers very carefully. A critic-to-be can benefit a lot from his writings in this tone. And I am sure that many people will take note of his style in writing a critical essay on someone else’s works. 

To cut short, Literary Occasions by V. S. Naipaul is a work that will impress many readers and it has to, in ideal cases. The literary students, especially, must read this book to understand what literary non-fiction, in its best flesh and blood, looks like and reads like. If you miss it, you will miss a lot of India’s tradition of critical writing that V S Naipaul had started once and, perhaps, that died with his literary death. You can get a copy of this amazing book from Amazon India here: 

buy the book – click here to buy now 

review by Nishant Sinha 

Happy Independence Day

We all know INDEPENDENCE DAY is approaching. And why won’t we, suddenly all the shops are filled with different avatars of our respectable National Flag! Everywhere we can see.. Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram.. messages, videos, short films filled with patriotism which suddenly creep up like a weed from nowhere to everywhere asking us to share with the maximum. On Red lights, when we disheartened push on the brakes of our vehicles beating our heads and abusing the government for making us stop every time the light turns red, small flags are sold and later on 16th August (sad to say) they are in debris. People are seen wearing combinations of tri-colour, even though it’s not allowed. But I feel that these acts of CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE run in our veins. We HAVE TO DO what is forbidden. Getting up late, enjoying the holiday, flying kites, planning for shopping (as its “50% off” almost on all major brands) end our day. This is how we celebrate our Independence Day. (And I know I am right because I am certainly one of those and this ‘I’ is not only me but the soul of every reader.)

I bet three-fourth of our population finishes their Independence Day celebration like this only. This is what we think is justice to all the sacrifices made for achieving this independence. Like those slavery days, no one is asking us to wear khadi or not to go to English schools. Or stop conversing in English. Simple little things that we can do to show our respect to the nation are expected of us. Harming our National heritage sites, monuments or buildings is one such thing we should avoid. They need to be preserved rather than turning them to love points and carving the name of youth’s ever changing love feelings.

Wearing helmets, respecting red lights, taking tickets while travelling in rails and buses, paying taxes on time, filing returns, paying our bills with dignity without certain loops of notices…controlling nature calls and other such activities like spitting, these are just small things on our part which we as responsible citizens can do. This is not only for 15th August. This should be brought into practice and eventually into the natural order of Indian citizens. This is our share of responsibility to shoulder. This is nothing as compared to what our soldiers do for us on the border. Then can’t we contribute even this much to our nation?

I asked one of my students what do you do on 15th August? She said it’s a holiday so we get up late and have lunch, evening we fly kites with high volume music and then the day is over. I was hurt ….really hurt. I was reminded of the days when my father used to wake us up early and make us stand in ‘attention’ for the National Anthem being played for the whole country on Doordarshan and then we used to watch subsequent programmes. Then, whole day my mother used to be nostalgic telling us stories about how her own grandfather who was a freedom fighter (she takes proud in it till date) used to tell them so many related stories. Not only on that day she used to make us hear ‘jaimala’ which is a radio programme for soldiers. As per her, this used to connect us with that feeling of patriotism of our soldiers. After so many years, I feel it really worked.

Today I feel, we as parents, as teachers are failing to fulfil our duties. It’s we who have to take up this responsibility in making the youth of today aware of what we have lost to gain, what they enjoy today. Our armed forces who fight day and night on the border should be thanked for their endless efforts.
That reminds me of the poem by Rabindra Nath Tagore written long back.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Every time, I read this I wonder when our mind will be without fear. Every day, we are fearful of sending our daughters out. Fear of bomb blasts and other terrorist activities never abandons us. Our children, our youth are falling into the pit of drugs and other anti social activities. We have to shoulder the responsibility as elders to bring them to right path. We have to awaken our country to that heaven of freedom.
With that hope, I wish all of you a very HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY. Jai Hind…Jai Hind ki Sena.


Proudly by Nidhi Sharma