A Bend In The River

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After the completion of his earlier Caribbean novels, V. S. Naipaul began his extended travels and

subsequent writings inspired by those travels. A Bend in the River (1979) results from such an

undertaking. The story in A Bend in the River depicts how an emergent African nation struggles against

all odds to be a modernized one. Despite episodes on internal warfare and corruption that effect

migration in and out of the country, it is obvious that there is a continuous thematic concern in the

novel. This thematic concern is structured around a dualism of rootedness and displacement, one that

Naipaul explores the identity and cultural formations of the diaspora. This thematic consistency,

therefore, does not preclude Naipaul's credibility of being a superb world novelist as Ian Watt once said

of him. On the contrary, issues that engross the novelist's unwavered attention become particularly

urgent under the turbulence due to faster and more intensified exchanges under globalization.

In this paper through a reading of A Bend in the River, I want to suggest that not only does the notion

of home is interrogated, but by means of travelling back and forth in time the present can be extended

and expanded. The concern of this paper calls our attention to a renunciation of temporal axis, to

which post-imperial and Third World nations at large refer in their development layouts. I argue that

the past haunts Naipaul constantly and throughout his narratives he explores the meanings of the past

to constitute his present being. The heritage he is born in and bred is of India and England. His father

Seepersad, a second generation East Indian West Indian with a failed literary career, exerts

tremendous influence upon the young Naipaul.1 And Joseph Conrad, first introduced by his father,

plays his literary father.2 His...