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People can live very simple lives, can’t they? Tucked away, without thinking. I think the world is what you enter when you think—when you become educated, when you question—because you can be in the big world and be utterly provincial.

V. S. NAIPAUL, The Paris Review, fall 1998

Life doesn't have a neat beginning and a tidy end; life is always going on. You should begin in the middle and end in the middle, and it should be all there.

V. S. NAIPAUL, Half a Life

Everybody is interesting for an hour, but few people can last more than two.

V. S. NAIPAUL, Time Magazine, Jul. 10, 1989

I have told people who ask for lectures that I have no lecture to give. And that is true. It might seem strange that a man who has dealt in words and emotions and ideas for nearly fifty years shouldn't have a few to spare, so to speak. But everything of value about me is in my books. Whatever extra there is in me at any given moment isn't fully formed. I am hardly aware of it; it awaits the next book. It will — with luck — come to me during the actual writing, and it will take me by surprise.

V. S. NAIPAUL, Nobel lecture, Dec. 7, 2001

All cultures have been mingled forever.

V. S. NAIPAUL, The Paris Review, fall 1998

It is wrong to have an ideal view of the world. That's where the mischief starts. That's where everything starts unravelling.

V. S. NAIPAUL, Magic Seeds

I feel that when a subject is quite big, one look is not enough. One should have a second take.

V. S. NAIPAUL, Literary Review, Apr. 2011

The only lies for which we are truly punished are those we tell ourselves.

V. S. NAIPAUL, In a Free State

How could people like these, without words to put to their emotions and passions, manage? They could, at best, only suffer dumbly. Their pains and humiliations would work themselves out in their characters alone: like evil spirits possessing a body, so that the body itself might appear innocent of what it did.

V. S. NAIPAUL, The Enigma of Arrival

I wish my prose to be transparent—I don’t want the reader to stumble over me; I want him to look through what I’m saying to what I’m describing. I don’t want him ever to say, Oh, goodness, how nicely written this is. That would be a failure.

V. S. NAIPAUL, The Paris Review, fall 1998

Men need history; it helps them to have an idea of who they are. But history, like sanctity, can reside in the heart; it is enough that there is something there.

V. S. NAIPAUL, The Enigma of Arrival

One isn't born one's self. One is born with a mass of expectations, a mass of other people's ideas — and you have to work through it all.

V. S. NAIPAUL, New York Times, Apr. 24, 1994

Look, boys, it ever strike you that the world not real at all? It ever strike you that we have the only mind in the world and you just thinking up everything else? Like me here, having the only mind in the world, and thinking up you people here, thinking up the war and all the houses and the ships and them in the harbour. That ever cross your mind?

V. S. NAIPAUL, Miguel Street

You can’t deny what you’ve learned; you can’t deny your travels; you can’t deny the nature of your life.

V. S. NAIPAUL, The Paris Review, fall 1998

After all, we make ourselves according to the ideas we have of our possibilities.

V. S. NAIPAUL, A Bend in the River

The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.

V. S. NAIPAUL, A Bend in the River

To this day, if you ask me how I became a writer, I cannot give you an answer. To this day, if you ask me how a book is written, I cannot answer. For long periods, if I didn't know that somehow in the past I had written a book, I would have given up.

V. S. NAIPAUL, New York Times, Apr. 24, 1994

You see, a writer tries very hard to see his childhood material as it exists. The nature of that childhood experience is very hard to understand—it has a beginning, a distant background, very dark, and then it has an end when a writer becomes a man. The reason why this early material is so important is that he needs to understand it to make it complete.

V. S. NAIPAUL, The Paris Review, fall 1998

What matters in the end in literature, what is always there, is the truly good. And -- though played out forms can throw up miraculous sports ... what is good is always what is new, in both form and content. What is good forgets whatever models it might have had, and is unexpected; we have to catch it on the wing.

V. S. NAIPAUL, Reading & Writing


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