high weir

January 30, 2007

A Wish for Mr Biswas

Filed under: Uncategorized — jstreed1476 @ 11:03 pm

I’m in the middle of a re-reading of Naipaul’s A House for Mr Biswas, and the title character is driving me nuts, again. In almost every situation, he makes the worst possible decision. Sometimes he does something stupid when he should do nothing at all. Sometimes he does nothing when it would be so simple to do something good.

 The strange thing is that I keep wanting better things for him. I keep hoping he’ll rise above his frustrating, rather wretched little world. Naipaul says Biswas entered the world “unwanted and unaccomodated.” He senses that what little he’s given is offered grudgingly, and he struggles to respond well to anything, even small victories.

 I love this book. It’s strange and familiar, all at once. The story takes place a world away, in another age, but its characters are instantly recognizable. Naipaul’s prose is beautiful–rich, but not overly elababorate, with a clarity few other novelists achieve. It’s one of the few books I’m truly glad to have read.

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