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Ekphrasis and V. S. Naipaul's The Enigma of Arrival

Ekphrasis and V. S. Naipaul's The Enigma of Arrival robert d. hamner Ekphrasis and V. S. Naipaul’s TheEnigmaofArrival The critic Mark McWatt finds V. S. Naipaul’s conflation of factual and imaginative experience inTheEnigmaofArrival to be an ironic reversal. Narrative details con- form to known facts in Naipaul’s life, yet he subtitles the book ANovel. McWatt argues, ‘‘It is fiction, the shaped and patterned product of the imagination (which, in a sense, denies reality), that is perceived as having greater authority and power than ‘truth’ or ‘reality.’ This is an inversion of the values of the previous ages of the novel, when authors such as Defoe sought the disguise of truth in order to make their fictions more powerful and more acceptable’’ (26). Such an inversion of values is a departure from tradition, but, as Bruce King points out, Naipaul’s genre breach is not without precedent. Characteristics shared by Enigma with modernist autobiographical novels by Proust, Mann and Joyce include the developing sensitivity and awareness of the artist, the alienation of the artist, the circularity of the form (so that the conclusion leads back to the beginning), the role of memory in recover- ing the past, the multiple time scheme that memory imposes on the narra- tive, the continual http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

Ekphrasis and V. S. Naipaul's The Enigma of Arrival

The Comparatist , Volume 30 – Apr 26, 2006

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 the Southern Comparative Literature Association.
ISSN
1559-0887

Abstract

robert d. hamner Ekphrasis and V. S. Naipaul’s TheEnigmaofArrival The critic Mark McWatt finds V. S. Naipaul’s conflation of factual and imaginative experience inTheEnigmaofArrival to be an ironic reversal. Narrative details con- form to known facts in Naipaul’s life, yet he subtitles the book ANovel. McWatt argues, ‘‘It is fiction, the shaped and patterned product of the imagination (which, in a sense, denies reality), that is perceived as having greater authority and power than ‘truth’ or ‘reality.’ This is an inversion of the values of the previous ages of the novel, when authors such as Defoe sought the disguise of truth in order to make their fictions more powerful and more acceptable’’ (26). Such an inversion of values is a departure from tradition, but, as Bruce King points out, Naipaul’s genre breach is not without precedent. Characteristics shared by Enigma with modernist autobiographical novels by Proust, Mann and Joyce include the developing sensitivity and awareness of the artist, the alienation of the artist, the circularity of the form (so that the conclusion leads back to the beginning), the role of memory in recover- ing the past, the multiple time scheme that memory imposes on the narra- tive, the continual

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Apr 26, 2006

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