Wednesday, November 12, 2008

'A sadist and a smell-smock and a coxcomb'

Joseph Bottum, editor of First Things, on Naipaul's authorized biography:

Perhaps there's some master plan behind it all, some half-baked notion in which Naipaul imagines that future generations will see him as a heroic refuser of hypocrisy. He's always been a sadist and a smell-smock and a coxcomb, and he's always enjoyed it. So why should he act the man of prissy virtues after he's gained all the rewards that a successful highbrow writing life can possibly bring? He has the Nobel Prize, after all, together with a knighthood and more money than he can spend. His interests now lie only in making sure that readers a hundred years from now will find him interesting. And thus he places a bet that prurience will never go out of fashion and that all the tabloid titillation will keep his name alive.


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