Sebaldian Naipaul

The Enigma of Arrival and the Afternoon by Giorgio de Chirico

W. G. Sebald is one of my favorite novelists, so is V. S. Naipaul. It’s always nice when you see a writer you love take form in another writer you are meeting for the first time. That’s the way I felt on first reading Naipaul’s Enigma of Arrival (excerpt HERE) right after Sebald’s Rings of Saturn (read the first chapter HERE).  I wasn’t prepared to encounter Sebald in Naipaul. And for days, I couldn’t get rid of the thought that the first part of The Enigma, titled “Jack’s Garden,” could as well have been a section in Rings of Saturn. If the connection I make here between Sebald and Naipaul seems forced to readers familiar with their novels, it’s because the connection probably is forced. It’s just that I can’t get out of my head the image of a Sebaldian Naipaul, which, of course is nonsensical. Enigma precedes Rings of Saturn by nearly 20 years.

Did Sebald read Naipaul?

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

2 Responses to “Sebaldian Naipaul” Subscribe

  1. Sam C 2014/03/31 at 12:29 #

    Sebald does appear to have read Naipaul: the various references to “a bend in the river” and the extensive description of the moths in the early pages of Austerlitz specifically recall A Bend in the River.

  2. field 2017/01/16 at 05:48 #

    Ditto – I’m sure that Sebald read and was influenced by Naipaul after listening to Knaus Ove Knaussgard’s New Yorker reading yesterday…

    http://www.newyorker.com/podcast/fiction/karl-ove-knausgaard-reads-v-s-naipaul

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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