Naipaul's Strangers

Naipaul's Strangers

Dagmar Barnouw
Distribution: World
Publication date: 04/17/2003
ISBN: 978-0-253-10975-0
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From his reporting on Islamic true believers to his descriptions of the postcolonial world, V. S. Naipaul has been a controversial figure in contemporary letters. Winner of the Nobel Prize, Naipaul has traveled throughout the world, looking at its varied cultures and seeking out others’ stories, recording and transforming them. His engagement with postcolonial cultures informs his novels, such as Guerrillas and A Bend in the River. However, it is his documentaries (such as Among the Believers and Beyond Belief) and his works that combine actual and fictional histories and memories (Finding the Center, The Enigma of Arrival, and A Way in the World) that best exhibit a growing awareness of the complexities of cultural difference—and the incompleteness and uncertainty of understanding "strangers." In this book, Dagmar Barnouw explores the sophisticated strategies and experimentations that Naipaul employs in his cultural critique and in his enterprise of learning about and documenting the enduring strangeness of this world.

Author Bio

Dagmar Barnouw is Professor of German and Comparative Literature, University of Southern California, and author of Weimar Intellectuals and the Threat of Modernity and Germany 1945 (both Indiana University Press), among other books of cultural criticism.


“. . . yields some admirably sensitive readings of Naipaul's prose.”

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Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:

Introduction: Cultural Plurality and Cultural Value
1. Understanding Strangers
2. Postcoloniality and Historicity
3. Stories of Other Lives: Novels
4. Stories of Other Lives: Documentaries: Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey
5. Stories of Other Lives: Documentaries: Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions among the Converted Peoples: Iran
6. Stories of Other Lives: Documentaries: Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions among the Converted Peoples: Pakistan
7. Uncertain Histories: Finding the Center and The Enigma of Arrival
8. Uncertain Histories: A Way in the World