‘What trouble I have with Jane Austen!’ V.S. Naipaul’s blind spot.
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In an April 2006 interview with Farrukh Dhondy in the Literary Review, V.S. Naipaul spoke disdainfully of Jane Austen, labelling her writing as 'nonsensical' and directed solely at 'those people who wish to be educated in English manners.' Disturbed by this clash between two of my most admired writers, I am interested in trying to understand why Austen, who after all appeals to many people around the world who are not seeking education in 'English manners', fails so signally to appeal to Naipaul. There is much comedy in the novels of both writers. While their settings are very different, they share a sense of the ridiculous in everyday life and a mastery of irony. In my paper, I will try and establish whether their worldviews are really incompatible by comparing their approaches to comedy.