In an interview at the Royal Geographic Society on Tuesday about his career, Naipaul, who has been described as the “greatest living writer of English prose”, was asked if he considered any woman writer his literary match. He replied: “I don’t think so.” Of [Jane] Austen he said he “couldn’t possibly share her sentimental ambitions, her sentimental sense of the world”.
He felt that women writers were “quite different”. He said: “I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me.”
The author, who was born in Trinidad, said this was because of women’s “sentimentality, the narrow view of the world”. “And inevitably for a woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too,” he said.
The Newspapers in India have converted the statements made in the interview as a gender slight heaped on WOMEN, and therefore many Indian Women writers , whom i do not intend to dignify by naming them in my blog, have HAVE RISEN IN REVOLT AND SAID that:
“NAIPAUL’S COMMENTS REEK OF GENDER BIAS. THESE ARE COMMENTS OF AN EGOMANIAC. I DO NOT THINK ALL WOMEN WRITERS HAVE A SENTIMENTAL VIEW OF THE WORLD. TONI MORRISON AND DORIS LESSING ARE BOTH NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS. THEY ARE NOT SENTIMENTAL. IN FACT THEY ARE BRUTAL. YOU CANNOT DEFINE WRITING BY GENDER.”
“IT IS A REFLECTION OF INSECURITY. IT IS A BIT OF POSTURING, TOO, IN A WAY ATTRACTING PUBLICITY. SAYING THAT WOMEN HAVE A NARROW VIEW OF THE WORLD IS PREPOSTEROUS. WRITING CANNOT BE JUDGED BY GENDER.“
Do they know what they are talking about? I guess not. They are mixing the artificially enforced Social Values on to the FREE AND BELLIGERENT HUMAN SOUL (which is so essential to a writer). Do they know that DORIS LESSING left behind her children with their father in South Africa, for London to pursue her carreer and famously said :
“There is nothing more boring for an intelligent woman than to spend endless amounts of time with small children….”
Secondly, TONI MORRISON had said something very poignant about her own writing:
“it’s off-putting to some readers, who may feel that I’m involved in writing some kind of feminist tract. I don’t subscribe to patriarchy, and I don’t think it should be substituted with matriarchy. I think it’s a question of equitable access, and opening doors to all sorts of things.”
The women writers quoted by the Indian Women writers had a soul which transcended gender issues. They went beyond the “sentimentality” which envelops a female mind. For example, out of the 107 Nobel Laureates in Literature, there have been 12 women. Which translates to less than 12% of the total Nobel Laureates, I do not think this skewed up AWARD of the NOBEL PRIZE should be ascribed to gender bias.
1909 – Selma Lagerlöf
1926 – Grazia Deledda
1928 – Sigrid Undset
1938 – Pearl Buck
1945 – Gabriela Mistral
1966 – Nelly Sachs
1991 – Nadine Gordimer
1993 – Toni Morrison
1996 – Wislawa Szymborska
2004 – Elfriede Jelinek
2007 – Doris Lessing
2009 – Herta Müller
I do not for a moment say that all the prizes given to Male Laureates are justifiable, especially with Winston Churchill and Rudyard Kipling having made the grade. Yet, at least obliquely, these Men had stood for something which is relatable to the “SOUL” and not mere “SENTIMENTALITY”! It is a pity that Kipling should find a place along with Ernest Hemingway, Albert Camus and Jeal Paul Sartre, yet these have been aberrations decided more on the scope of the nominees who were pitted for that year. It was to be decided if Thomas Hardy (an inveterate pessimist) was to be awarded the Prize or a more positive out-looked person was to be chosen!
In any case, i agree with V S NAIPAUL’s observations, and it should not be sieved with a fine net of “ARTIFICIALLY CREATED EQUALITY OF THE SOCIETY!”
Anyway good luck to our women writers. I hope they get BRUTAL (Doris Lessing’s observations….) in their perception and writing instead of laying it on with maternal and nubile instincts.