Decoding the Ancestral Land: The Poetics of Place, Space and Time in V. S. Naipauls India Trilogy

Satarupa Sinha Roy


This essay seeks to explore Naipauls aesthetic enunciation of the ancestral land in the India trilogy. By highlighting how Naipaul creates rather than describes landscape in the texts at issue, this study suggests that Naipauls poetics of place/space subsumes a realignment between the individual and his environment. In addition, this essay argues that Naipaul uses a specific temporal category (described by Johannes Fabian as Typological Time) in order to conceptually structure the ancestral land and that his perception of the Indian civilization involves the use of temporal distancing to the point of denying coevalness to the object of enquiry. In this context, this study evokes Fabians critique of cultural anthropology.It arguesthat Naipauls construction of theOtheras an epistemic category is effected through a specific use of temporal devices that attempts to unite disparate times and spaces within the dominant representative framework of narration.Besides, this essay seeks to critically analyse the role of time in the context of Naipauls narrative representation of the ancestral land. In arguing that Naipauls use of time contributes to the production of knowledge about theOther, this study seeks to critique the praxis of travel writing that is strongly anchored to visual experience as opposed to the aural or the oral. Broadly speaking, this essay attempts to trace the extent to which Naipaul, by recounting his travels in and through the ancestral land, creates a place as a way of understanding rather than merely evince the gaps between language on the one hand and space/place and time, on the other.


Naipaul; India trilogy; space; place; landscape; time

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