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Monday, June 6

Jane Austen and V. S. Naipaul

“I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.” - Jane Austen, Letters
On May 31st during an interview portion with the Royal Geographic Society the writer V. S. Naipaul, who is considered one of the greatest living writers of English prose, was asked if he considered any woman writer his equal. "I don’t think so," he replied. Until this point, his statement was no big deal, for a great number of the public believes that Jane Austen is very sentimental, many coming to this conclusion based on their perception of the movies adapted from her novels, saying that he "couldn't possibly share her sentimental ambitions, her sentimental sense of the world."   .But then he went further in his explanation:
I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me….[A] woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too…My publisher, who was so good as a taster and editor, when she became a writer, lo and behold, it was all this feminine tosh. I don’t mean this in any unkind way...- Buffalo News.Com

Sir V. S. Naipaul, in his house, Wiltshire, England. © AP Photos | The Sidney Mourning Herald
I will say nothing about Naipaul's ouvre, because I've never read one single line of his work. It is conjectured that his opinion of Jane Austen is perhaps a mix of his notorious misogyny and the need to keep himself in the public eye, if even for a short time.

I wonder if he will still be as greatly admired as Jane in the next two hundred years. Poor fellow...  In case I am accused of a partiality to Jane, I shall finish the post with George Eliot *:
“Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.” - George Eliot, Impressions of Theophrastus Such
In this quiz the reader is asked to distinguish whether a male of female writer wrote the passages! How well can you guess the author's sex?


Post contributed by Raquel Sallaberry, Jane Austen em Portugues


Hosted Exchange Email said...

I really abhor the comment that he made. Guess he needs to stop flying in the air and land down to see the reality for himself

bookwormans said...

I've never even heard of this guy...but I have heard of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Virginia Woolf, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, Sylvia Plath, Flannery O'Connor, J. K. Rowling, Emily Bronte...I got more!

Catherine Pirie said...

This man's arrogance is infuriating. I wish I could not care. There should be a place to put them all -- Naipaul, DSK, Berlusconi, and all their fellow creeps. They would never, ever understand us. And we will never, ever understand them.

Chantel said...

absurd little man

Karen K. said...

I agree with Bookwormans. What an idiot.

Nonna Beach said...

Insipid, arrogant man...I guess there's a place on some bookshelves for his work but not mine !!!

DangAndBlast! said...

I wouldn't lower myself to the level of refusing to read someone's (excellent) work because I don't like their (unrelated) personal beliefs, so I've read and enjoyed a fair bit of Naipaul. ("I won't read him because he doesn't like women" isn't that much different from "I won't read her because she's a woman", is it?) But he isn't just anti-woman... he really just hates everyone. I feel a bit sorry for him, as I doubt he has many friends... heard him speak once, and he offended pretty much everyone in the room (hint: if you're speaking in BOSTON, don't talk about how universities are useless and a waste of time and money!). He can write well, though, if you like the genre.