Mihir Bose

Who is Naipaul? Some Thoughts on English Fiction

Recently I met one of those well upholstered English girls who clearly give the lie to the widely expressed lament about the demise of the ‘nice girl’. The occasion, a dreary press lunch by a tiresome nationalised industry with more PR zeal than imagination, was much lightened by her good humour and curiosity.

She ate with gusto, drank liberally and she asked questions that stumped many of the PR men. Sometime during the afternoon I discovered that she had in fact been a student of English Literature in King’s College, but had now forsaken Shakespeare to work for a magazine of the pre-cast concrete industry and was full of revolutionary faith in the regenerative capacity of British industry. ‘Did you know’, she asked me, ‘that almost anybody can make pre-cast concrete – it is almost a backyard operation,’ in tones that would have done Mao Tse-Tung in Great Leap Forward phase proud.

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