V.S. Naipaul’s Woman Problem: Prostitutes, Lady Novelists, and other “Feminine Tosh”


GRACE SUH || SF WEEKLY || JUNE 2011

Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, 78 years old, still wants love. And he cried out for it, last night, at London’s Royal Geographic Society. More precisely, he opined that he considers no woman writer his equal. None. Not a one.

Jane Austen, you say? She in particular he spits upon for “her sentimental ambitions, her sentimental sense of the world.” He also claims that he can tell “within a paragraph or two” whether a piece of writing is “by a woman or not.” Not quite “Name That Tune” but still a neato party trick. Women’s writing is “unequal”–mostly, you know, because of the “sentimentality, the narrow view of the world.”

This isn’t our fault, though. It’s because, “inevitably for a woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too.” And he dismisses the writing of his own publisher as “feminine tosh.” But don’t worry, Lady Publisher! He doesn’t “mean this in any unkind way.” >>READ MORE

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