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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

V.S. Naipaul's "Jasmine"

There's no way I could spoil the end of this wonderful essay for you because I am yet to finish it myself. This is that kind of essay that you wish it would never end. The question of the narrator is whether or not English as a language can convey the beauty of the world. There are some fine passages:

The writer was protesting against what the English language had imposed on us. The language was ours, to use as we pleased. The literature that came with it was therefore of peculiar authority; but this literature was like an ancient mythology. There was, for instance, Wordsworth's notorious poem about the daffodil. A pretty little flower, no doubt; but we had never seen it. Could the poem have any meaning for us?

I suppose this is the plight of most of what I learned in graduate school as "colonial language imposed on the colonized peoples." The narrator takes on the stories of Dickens, Conrad, and other masters of literature and transport the same stories to settings in Trinidad where he is a correspondent for the BBC Caribbean bureau. The previous story, a selection from "A House for Mr. Biswas" was enthralling in its own merit. I wonder where I could find a copy of the novel and read it in its entirety. I will comment more on "Jasmine" when I finish reading it. I have some 50-something examinations to grade between tonight and tomorrow night. If I don't post anything by then, I hope to be excused by you.

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At 9:33 AM, Blogger Susan Abraham said...

Good luck with the grades, Jose. I'm sure you'll be wanting to get back to your reads as quickly as possible.

At 10:23 PM, Blogger Ex Libris said...

You might want to check Half Price Books for "A House for Mr. Biswas". I've seen it on occasion at my local HPB.

At 4:43 AM, Blogger Kaye Antonette Uba said...



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