Tag Archives: V.S. Naipaul

Monday chatter: Naipaul, Tharp, Moje

Here is poet Derek Walcott on novelist/essayist V.S. Naipaul, both sons of the Caribbean and Nobel-decorated literary lions:

The plots are forced, the prose
sedate and silly
The anti-hero is a prick named Willie
Who lacks the conflict of a Waugh or Lawrence
And whines with his creator’s

Nicely done! According to the Guardian, their antagonism stretches back to the ’70s, and it was mostly fanned by a Naipaul essay that praised Walcott’s early
work. Which must mean he hates the later work, right? Anyway, Walcott goes after Naipaul on the usual grounds — that he embraced the “Raj” of the English literary tradition, became a snobby pedant about it, then roamed the Third World trashing the traditions he found there. But Naipaul’s House for Mr. Biswas was good! (Turn about on the superiority of early work is fair play.)

Scatter loves a good literary scrap, and we doubt that Mr. Walcott will manage to wound Mr. Naipaul. I have followed Naipaul ever since Mr. Biswas — admittedly less in recent decades — and I’ve actually enjoyed his excursions to struggling countries around the world. I’m not sure how he manages those LONG quotes without taking notes or employing a recording device, but I’ve found him an antidote to any tendency I might have to idealize the Third World, and I don’t think he’s as Imperial as Walcott thinks he is, though undoubtedly far pricklier in person than I can imagine.

Quick thoughts on Twyla Tharp. The New York Times today has a story about Tharp’s preparations for a new ballet for American Ballet Theatre, mostly laudatory, though it does mention her recent Broadway fiascos based on the music of Bob Dylan and Billy Joel. Tharp’s high-energy, edge-of-disaster, comic approach to dance is firmly part of our internal choreography now, I think, not to mention a certain amount of slinky slithering and attendant sexual awareness. But I wonder: What does a world look like in which a choreographer with her considerable gifts has the financial security to maintain her own company over her lifetime as a choreographer AND work on various projects in Vegas or Hollywood or Broadway, not to mention other dance companies? What sort of investigations was she unable to pursue?

Finally, a couple of in-town mentions. We at Art Scatter strongly recommend that you take a peek at our Scatter-colleague Bob Hicks’s story about glass artist Karl Moje in The Oregonian this morning. Portland is going to be Glass Central this month! And also take a look at Inara Verzemnieks’s story on Horatio Hung-Yan Law’s Tai Chi project at South Waterfront — and Scatter kudos to Linda K. Johnson for her artist-in-residence projects in the district!