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  • An Area of Darkness

  • By: V. S. Naipaul
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 10 hrs and 1 min
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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An Area of Darkness

By: V. S. Naipaul
Narrated by: Simon Vance
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Summary

A classic of modern travel writing, An Area of Darkness is Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul’s profound reckoning with his ancestral homeland and an extraordinarily perceptive chronicle of his first encounter with India.

Traveling from the bureaucratic morass of Bombay to the ethereal beauty of Kashmir, from a sacred ice cave in the Himalayas to an abandoned temple near Madras, Naipaul encounters a dizzying cross-section of humanity: browbeaten government workers and imperious servants, a suavely self-serving holy man, and a deluded American religious seeker. An Area of Darkness also abounds with Naipaul’s strikingly original responses to India’s paralyzing caste system, its apparently serene acceptance of poverty and squalor, and the conflict between its desire for self-determination and its nostalgia for the British raj. The result may be the most elegant and passionate book ever written about the subcontinent.

©1964 copyright renewed 1992 by V. S. Naipaul (P)2021 Blackstone Publishing

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wonderful prose, must read for any V S Naipaul fan

loved it, must read for any V S Naipaul fan. haunting and thoughtful and deliriously insightful.

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  • John S.
  • 15-08-21

Go slowly with this one, or it's a slog

Can't put my finger on it, but I was so willing for the book to just end that I sped up the narration to 1.25x (I rarely tinker with those settings). To some extent it was Vance's narration, which is excellent for novels, but perhaps a bit "dramatic" here? However, I'm going to assign most of the issue to the underlying text, too much fault-finding I suppose. There were scenes that should've been funny, but just weren't. If you're familiar with Paul Theroux, it's similar to him at his crankiest.

Individually, the stories are well-written. I've been interested in the issue of "foreign" Desi identity for a while. Years ago I asked a friend raised there, and his dad who never left, whether they considered Asians from colonial-era diaspora families (Trinidad, etc) "the same"? Father "Yes, of course" and son "No!" I've never heard Naipaul speak, assuming it was what is now called RP. This is where I admit that listening to Vance, I had to consciously remind myself that the author was not white. So, while probably inaccurate, it may have been better to have had the book read in an Indian accent?

I would recommend this one, though with breaks between each chapter or two.

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  • JK
  • 02-07-21

DIFFERENT

This is the first book I have read by this author. I have read and studied a lot about India, but never from the points of view from mr.Naipaul. I had difficulty to stick to his story, but I am glad I finished this book. It has some interesting episodes and points of view. I gave him five stars because the writing style is interesting.
The narrator, mr. Simon Vance, as always is a joy to listen to. Without him I don’t know if I would have stuck to it. My thanks to all involved, JK



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  • J.J. Angleton
  • 24-06-21

The clutch of the Veldtschoen.......

Many in India took grave offence when this book was first published more than 55 years ago and his reputation in India almost never recovered. Naipaul is remembered (in India at least) as a dark man mimicking the prejudices of the white imperialists. This view is not only superficial, it is wrong. Naipaul’s rage is not the result of being unable to feel the native’s plight; on the contrary, he is angry because he feels it so keenly.
Naipaul is himself determined to see, and what he sees is a decayed, self-deluded, caste-ridden civilization that deals in symbols and ignores realities, a system at the heart of which lies the degradation of the Sweepers, as those most despised of the Untouchables, the cleaners of latrines, are euphemistically known. His excremental vision is Swiftian in its ferocity, and like Swift, Naipaul is able to ascend from noisome particulars to startling and often brilliant cultural insights that may provoke argument but never simple dismissal.
Reading (listening!) this after almost 30 years, one realizes how much progress India has made since the dud 60's and 70's.

Simon Vance is at his usual best.

Looking forward to the other two books in this India trilogy. Glad that audible has made these available.

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  • Kindle Custer Customer
  • 27-07-21

Very interesting

Listened to this twice, enjoyed it very much fascinated by their lack of cleanliness and consideration of others.