The long way round

V. S. Naipaul in The Guardian:

NaipaulvsI was born in 1932 on the other side of the Atlantic in the British colony of Trinidad, an outcrop of Venezuela and South America. It was a small island, essentially agricultural when I was born (like Venezuela, it had oil, which was beginning to be developed). It had a racially mixed population of perhaps half a million, with my own immigrant Asian Indian community (finely divided by religion, education, money, caste background) of about 150,000.

I had no great love for the place, no love for its colonial smallness. I saw myself as a castaway from the world’s old civilisations, and I wished to be part of that bigger world as soon as possible. An academic scholarship in 1950, when I was 18, enabled me to leave. I went to England to do a university course with the ambition afterwards of being a writer. I never in any real sense went back.

So my world as a writer was full of flight and unfinished experience, full of the odds and ends of cultures and migrations, from India to the New World in 1880-1900, from the New World to Europe in 1950, things that didn’t make a whole. There was nothing like the stability of the rooted societies that had produced the great fictions of the 19th century, in which, for example, even a paragraph of a fairytale or parable by Tolstoy could suggest a whole real world. And soon I saw myself at the end of the scattered island material I carried with me.

More here.