It’s Time We Acknowledged VS Naipaul’s Toxic, Chauvinistic Legacy

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It’s Time We Acknowledged VS Naipaul’s Toxic, Chauvinistic Legacy

Illustration: Ahmed Sikander

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ritish author John Berger wrote in the seminal 1972 book, Ways of Seeing, that “Men act and women appear,” men and women in the space of art in particular. If life itself were the act, Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul’s was peppered with disappearances – of women the world knows hardly anything of other than their temporariness in his life.

A couple of years ago, Naipaul’s appearance at the Jaipur Literary Festival was regarded as the festival’s greatest moment, and his accompanying wife, Nadira Naipaul, perhaps the greatest convenience. From holding his microphone to wiping tears off his cheeks, Nadira Naipaul did it all, reaffirming that genius must always be loved, especially the genius of a man, no matter what the cost. And oh, what a price VS Naipaul’s genius extracted from the women in his life. Women, who under the shadow of his towering genius, existed as reflections seamlessly transitioning across the aisle of his life, each mirroring the other.

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