An Aria Of Darkness

William Dalrymple on V.S. Naipaul’s new book, in Outlook India:

Screenhunter_17_sep_20_0141Naipaul was once a penetrating and unpredictable literary critic, but here criticism has been reduced to a series of spiky provocations (“personal prejudice can be amusing in the autobiographical mode,” he writes) interspersed with brisk assassination attempts on every one of the perceived rivals who he writes about: A Passage to India has “no meaning”; Walcott grew “stagnant” after his first book (“his inspiration had gone and he was now marking time”); Waugh is “mannered (and) flippant… with nothing to write about, except, in the end, his own breakdown”; Anthony Powell’s writing is “over-explained… there was no narrative skill” and his characters are “one-dimensional”; Nirad Chaudhuri is “vain and mad”; Henry James writes only “sweet nothings”; Philip Larkin is “a minor poet”; Flaubert after Madame Bovary descended into “artificiality” and wrote “bad nineteenth century fiction”. And on it goes.

More here.