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A Life Split in Two

Pubblicato il 21 Novembre 2008 12:00 | Ultimo aggiornamento: 21 Novembre 2008 12:00

da: The New York Times

A great writer requires a great biography, and a great biography must tell the truth. V. S. Naipaul wanted his monument built while he was still alive, and, sticking to his own ruthless literary code, he was willing to pay the full price. Approached around the time of Naipaul’s Nobel Prize in 2001, the writer Patrick French insisted on complete access to the Naipaul archives at the University of Tulsa, which include his correspondence, his journals and the diaries of his wife, Pat (who died in 1996), never read by Naipaul. French also wanted his subject to sit many hours over many years for unrestricted interviews. In the end, this most difficult and fastidious of writers didn’t ask French to change a single word. Naipaul’s scrupulous compliance with all of his biographer’s demands, French writes, was “at once an act of narcissism and humility.” Now Naipaul has his monument. “The World Is What It Is” (the severe opening words of “A Bend in the River”) is fully worthy of its subject, with all the dramatic pacing, the insight and the pathos of a…

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