'No family, no wife, no friends, no infidelities': Wives Present and Absent in Naipaul's Autobiographical Fiction.
Dooley, Gillian Mary
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V.S. Naipaul’s 1987 novel The Enigma of Arrival is set in the 1970s in the Wiltshire countryside where Naipaul lived with his wife for 10 years. In this novel, Naipaul has explicitly identified the narrator with his own ‘seeing eye, my feeling person’, while leaving out his personal relationships, and the narrator gives no hint of being married. In this paper I speculate on some possible structural and artistic reasons for this omission, and I read both this novel and some of Naipaul’s earlier fiction, including A House for Mr Biswas (1962), for implicit traces of his first wife and their marriage, contracted in 1955, which he explicitly excluded from this autobiographical novel.