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Finding the Center : Two Narratives de V. S.…
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Finding the Center : Two Narratives (1984 original; edició 1985)

de V. S. Naipaul (Autor)

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Membre:KarenAlicia
Títol:Finding the Center : Two Narratives
Autors:V. S. Naipaul (Autor)
Informació:Penguin Books Canada, Limited (1985), Edition: New Ed, 160 pages
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Finding the Center de V. S. Naipaul (1984)

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Short dry read. Some interesting personal and historical observations, especially about colonial writers and the vacuum of history in which they work. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
1. Prologue to an Autobiography
Half-memoir, half travelogue, he tests memories and characters he’s drawn in the past against the reality he finds in the present. What is revealed most is the changing eye of the viewer, able to see deeper, more roundedly, more sympathetically, unrestrained by the past or by the limitations of fiction writing. He traces his literary origins through his father, in particular the influence of Trinidad Guardian editor MacGowan, who gives Naipaul’s father a way of seeing, the perspective of the outsider, which detect stories and material in all aspects of local life.
On CLAN
– being from a clan gives “certainty; a high sense of self” (49). Clan gives a strong sense of identity in consistent values, behaviour, morals, and rules to be upheld. The message, repeated frequently by numerous people becomes ingrained. This can give a sense of confidence, self-esteem, and power. Not coming from a clan is to be governed by contradictory beliefs, diluted values, have no real fixed point of comparison, to be nihilistic, searching.
On WRITING
19 - “the first sentence was so direct, so uncluttered, without complications… set up a rhythm, a speed, which dictated all that was to follow.”
20 – “memories, disregarded until then, were simplified and transformed.”
20 – “I wanted to take the story to the end. I feared that if I stopped too long anywhere I might lose faith in what I was doing, give up once more and be left with nothing.”
27 – “I had without knowing fallen into the error of thinking that writing was a kind of display.”
38 – “To be a writer was to triumph over darkness. And like a wild religious faith that hardens in adversity, this wish to be a writer, this refusal to be extinguished, this wish to seek some future time for justice, strengthened as our conditions grew worse on the street.”
40 – “To become a writer, that noble thing, I had thought it necessary to leave. Actually, to write, it was necessary to go back. It was the beginning of self-knowledge.”
71 – “He wrote about Chaguanas, but the daily exercise of an admired craft would, in his own mind, had raised him above the constrictions of Chaguanas.
72 – “a fear of failing to be what I should be, rather than a simple ambition, was with me when I came to London trying to write.”
On MULTIPERSONALITY
69 – “In the week that followed, my father existed on three planes: he was the reporter who had become his own very big front-page story: he was the reformer who wasn’t going to yield to ju-jus. At the same time, as a man of feud-ridden Chaguanas, he was terrified of what he saw as a murder threat, and he was preparing to submit. Each role made nonsense of the other.”
CHARACTERISATION
55-56 “she had always been a humourist in gatherings (the gloom, the irritation came immediately afterwards)…. She used her shrivelled little hand to make a gentle gesture of disdain.”
On PEASANTRY
44 – Venezuela is rich. But in its oil economy many of its people are superfluous.
46 – I thought of her as one of the unneeded, one of the thousands littered in peasant yards and cast out into the wilderness of Venezuela.
Naipaul is sympathetic to modernity without looking at the damage it brings on a culture. Equally, he isn’t interested in traditional ways of life enough to see their value. Seen through lens of a world moving towards environmental disaster, his views on concrete = progress are false and outdated.

2. The Crocodiles of Yamoussoukro
At times his observations are those of a tourist, shallow and superfluous. He touches on the “magic”/ spiritual dimension in a broad way that doesn’t get to the heart of what it is, only that it is unquestionably important and central to life in Africa. He shows a very sympathetic view in the end to “African belief/religion” at least to those who believe in it, taking his own opinion out of the narrative.
On TRAVEL
87 – “I travel to discover other states of mind… When my curiosity has been satisfied, where there are no more surprises, the intellectual adventure is over and I become anxious to leave… It is a writer’s curiosity rather than an ethnographer’s or a journalist’s. So when I travel I can move only according to what I find, I also live, as in were, in a novel of my own making, moving from not knowing to knowing, with person interweaving with person and incident opening out into incident. The intellectual adventure is also a human one: I can move only according to my sympathy. I don’t force anything; there is no spokesman I have to see, no one I absolutely must interview. The kind of understanding I am looking for comes best through people I get to like.” - Also a way of living as well as a way of travelling – know what interests you, patiently uncover it.
94 – “These projects began to mature and come together. My days became full and varied. After the random impressions and semi-official meetings and courtesies of the first days, I began to discover themes and people, I began to live my little novel.”

On AUTHORITY/ POWER
83 – “In the African tradition the elder remained until he died. A man stripped of authority couldn’t simply go back to being an ordinary villager.”
93 – “Power was the prerogative of the chief; but the good chief, who followed the old ways, also sought reconciliation.”
106 – “in a marriage the most important relationship was between the families… a West Indian woman in the Ivory Coast was without tribe or family; her African husband could, without guilt, say goodbye.”
On AFRICANS
94 – “I saw him only in this physical way. I couldn’t tell whether in his intense eyes there was intelligence, vapidity, a wish to please, or a latent viciousness.”
106 – “To live in Africa, she said, was to have all of ones ideas and values questioned.”
117 – the inscrutability – a group of women get a toddler to dance for him – when he fakes an appreciation – they are expressionless.
122 – Brilliant passage about being fleeced by a hustler acting “hurt” – the fear, craziness, sadness.
129 – on Ebony “I thought he was relaxed, a whole man. He knew where he was, how he had got there, and he liked the novelty of what he saw. There was no true anxiety behind his scattered ideas. At any rate he was less anxious than a romantic or a concerned outsider would want him to be. “
155 – “There were two worlds, the world of workaday reality and the world of the spirit… Europeans were inventive, creative people. That had to be allowed them. But because they stressed or developed only one side of man’s nature they seemed to African’s like children. .. That was why, though dependent on Europeans for so many things, Africans thought of themselves as ‘older’ than Europeans
160 – “They are small minded people over there, broken down by their history. Life is so big. The world is so big, but over there if a man gets a little job in a government department he feels he has done enough with his life. They think they are superior to Africans, but their life is a dream. .. They bring their own psychic sickness to Africa. They should instead come to be converted.”
On EXPATS
126 – “He had become more thoughtful than he might have done if he had stayed in England; he had become more knowledgeable and more tolerant.”
  mingusfingers | Sep 22, 2012 |
The first piece is intensely autobiographical, opens up for us an intimate moment when vidyadhar surajprasad started becoming an author. http://www.purao.net/wiki/FindingCenter_excerpt ( )
  sandeep-purao | Jan 25, 2009 |
1867 Finding the Centre Two Narratives, by V. S. Naipaul (read 9 Sep 1984) A friend bought this book in Bombay, India, and gave it to me to read. The author is an Asian Indian who was born in Trinidad and educated at an English university. He writes a spare, clear, no nonsense English prose (such a relief after just wading through Ford Madox Ford's convoluted involved prose) and I enjoyed the book. It is made up of two unrelated parts: "Prologue to an Autobiography" is an account of Naipaul's childhood and his father's life in Trinidad. The other part is "The Crocodiles of Yamoussoukro" and it tells of Naipaul's visit to Ivory Coast. It is perceptive and illuminating as to African thinking. One wonders if the logic of "Western" thought is strong enough to penetrate and conquer the African mind. A thought-provoking narrative. I probably should read something by Naipaul--he is probably a significant writer of this day. Anthony Burgess lists A Bend in the River (1979) as one of the 99 best novels in English published during the period from 1939 to 1983, so that would be a logical book to read to see if I should read him intensively. ( )
  Schmerguls | Sep 10, 2008 |
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