Dirda V. Naipaul Bio Fisticuffs

In the OUCH! department, Michael Dirda turns in an extremely entertaining review of Patrick French’s new biography of V.S. Naipaul, The World Is What It Is. One of the money quotes:

As Patrick French’s nuanced and generous but often dispiriting biography shows, there’s not much to like or praise about V.S. Naipaul as a human being. He starts life as a twerp, then fairly quickly becomes a jerk and ends up an old sourpuss. The best overall epithet for him is infantile — though one shouldn’t neglect the claims of such adjectives as whiney, narcissistic, insulting, needy, callous, impolite, cruel, vengeful, indecisive, miserly, exploitative, snobbish, sadistic, self-pitying and ungrateful. Of course, his is, to some extent, the modern artistic sensibility writ very, very large. But even our favorite monsters and divas — Picasso, Waugh, Callas, Brando — are never as smarmy and nasty as Naipaul. He can make a spoiled 3-year-old look mature.

Seeing as Naipaul’s still with us, and Dirda goes on to (let’s face it, aptly) characterize him as "increasingly blimpish, less a cultural scourge than a mean-spirited, intolerant crank," I’m not answering anything without a recognized caller ID for a few days if I’m the critic in question.

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