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Domestic humiliation spills over into a killing. There is a dictator and his name is solvency.

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Not that he got his new world right at once, either; the progress of his understandings and of his affections is beautifully told. No beating of the breast, simply authentically some shaking of the head, in the incremental realisation of how deliberated, how contrived, how endangered, how hopeless even, was this world which at first looked to be rooted, natural, all all of a piece throughout. The progress of the book is towards an ever graver sympathy with the all-but-unknown person of the landlord, a progress towards the acknowledgment that the dereliction stubborn repeated word of the estate need not constitute a dereliction of duty.

Ivy was beautiful.

A sad pastoral

It was to be allowed to grow up trees. So too it had been with people. They had been around; when the time came they had gone away; and then there had been other people. He had been too important to my landlord. Naipaul makes much of this while saying nothing of it; his sense of the ancient meanings is at one with his pleasure in happy misprisions. There is no condescension in his savouring the comedy and the pastoral and the tragedy of such turns of speech.

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That was how Pitton used the word: I believe he had two or three such refuges at different places. Refuse, refuge: two separate, unrelated words. What saves these incorporations from being lordly is their respectful saltiness — that, and the way in which Naipaul is perfectly willing to pounce upon locutions which deserve it. Yet the unmistakable triumph is against such odds and is in its way such a surprise. In time, and with time, a critic rather than a reviewer may go some way towards unfolding how Naipaul manages it. Naipaul ducks nothing; he prettifies and philosophises nothing.

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There is nothing fancy here for those who are delectably teased by some theoretical imbroglio about facticity and the fictive. Then again, how does he create such suspense, given that he permits himself so little plotting? Or rather, the people, who are indeed not brought to life by the book but who bring their life and lives to the book.

There is no mistaking, and no forgetting, the reality of Mr Pitton the gardener; of Jack, a gardener his own garden, a very different thing ; of Mr and Mrs Phillips, overseeing; of the landlord, overlooking. And by slow-paced judgment. Timing is a nub. He can speak of his own past folly without self-congratulation, and of his achieved understanding without mock-modesty.

Version of Pastoral

Oft times nothing profits more Than self-esteem, grounded on just and right —. Milton is right, and the more so because when you round the corner into the next line you meet the salutary admonition. But the prose of The Enigma of Arrival is a new departure and arrival, though entirely continuous with the old strengths.

For Eliot is a presence throughout this book, as he could not help being for Naipaul, another expatriate radical of the right. Nothing is said that is not said again; scarcely an anecdote or an observation but is offered anew. With slow rotation suggesting permanence. The repetitiveness of this form of travel was an unexpected revelation. I am aware of falling short of making good on my saying so. But I am sure that the central achievement is one of tact, alive in the shaping both large and local. In so doing, it stages—within the theater of language itself—a revolution of the image against the word" 6—7.

Although Heffernan addresses generations of poets, building toward our postmodern era, I wish to borrow at least part of his argument and apply it to Naipaul's novel.


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Since Naipaul's description of the de Chirico painting itself is relatively brief, his immediate adaptation of it to his own experience suggests the encounter's deeper relevance lies in the autobiographical application he makes of it to the life of his thinly disguised narrator. Juxtaposition of documented facts from the author's background with his purportedly nonfactual text thrusts Naipaul's novel into the heart of Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.

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The Comparatist. In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Ekphrasis and V. Naipaul's The Enigma of Arrival. The critic Mark McWatt finds V. If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE.

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