The Mimic Men

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Naipaul was born and raised in Trinidad, to which his grandfathers had emigrated from India as indentured servants He is known for the wistfully comic early novels of Trinidad, the bleaker novels of a wider world remade by the passage of peoples, and the vigilant chronicles of his life and travels, all written in characteristic, widely admired, prose.At 17, he won a Trinidad Government scholarshi

[Read] ➵ The Mimic Men By V.S. Naipaul – 502udns.info
  • Paperback
  • 286 pages
  • The Mimic Men
  • V.S. Naipaul
  • Romanian
  • 11 September 2018

10 thoughts on “The Mimic Men

  1. says:

    The ramp up of Part 1 seems unusually long, though hardly a slog In it Naipaul s classic, young, post colonial island man takes up residence in a shared house in post war Kensington, a part of London that was once seedy and cheap according to the author The house is full of Maltese and Italians and various sad alcoholics who fall down a lot Leini, an Italo Maltese woman living in the dank basement, gets a party together to attend the baptism of her fatherless child It s a sad affair The narrator, Ranjit Kripalsingh, shortened to Ralph Singh, then marries an emotionally damaged young woman with magnificent breasts who by acting out randomly alienates anyone who might befriend them as a couple Soon a retreat to the author s native isle of Isabella seems prudent On docking, Singh s mother, learning she now has a white daughter in law, makes a scene Soon thereafter Singh gets creative with a legacy of wasteland and becomes a wealthy developer The wife gets worse due to the materialism Soon they ve gone their separate ways and Singh has begun to write It s like The Mystic Masseur but gutted of the humor The reader, like the writer, dutifully soldiers on Part 2 reverts to Singh s childhood Suddenly, the book feels like a Naipaul novel In it we get the story of his early life on the tropical island of Isabella His father, an underpaid school teacher, marries into a family a few years before they grow wealthy as the island s sole Coca Cola bottler Formerly seen as a good match, the father is now deprecated by the wife s family The now affluent wife comes to believe she s married beneath herself The father later becomes a millenarian figure leading disaffected dock workers to a brief idyll in the mountains.It was not until page 117 that I finally discovered what I d been missing It was Naipaul s frank talk of race On a school outing, for example, the beautifully Chinese Hok is discovered to be the son of a black mother As Singh tells us We had converted our island into one big secret Anything that touched on everyday life excited laughter when it was mentioned in a classroom the name of a shop, the name if a street, the name of street corner foods The laughter denied our knowledge of these things to which after the hours of school we were to return.Hok ignores his black mother in the street His teacher is appalled Hok is made to acknowledge her if only by the passing of a few simple words Suddenly, the boy known in class as Confucius, is persona non grata.It was for this betrayal into ordinariness that I knew he was crying It was at this betrayal that the brave among us were tittering It wasn t only that the mother was black and of the people, though that was a point it was because he had been expelled from the private sphere of fantasy the school where lay his true life I felt I had been given an unfair glimpse of another person s deepest secrets I felt on that street, shady, with gardens, and really pretty as I now recall it, though then to me wholly drab, that Hok had dreams like mine, was probably also marked, and lived in imagination far from us, far from the island on which he, like my father, like myself, had been shipwrecked p.117 Whoa From here on the novel begins to fascinate We re back in Naipaul Land And again one feels what a privilege it is to read him Once the narrator moves on to tell the story of his island childhood the old magic ensnares us I wouldn t say that Part 1 is inferior, but I was unable to get traction in the story until p 117 Part 3 may be brilliant Time will be helpful in determining that In it Singh recounts the rise and fall of his political career on Isabella with hardly a dabbling in the substantive issues The novel becomes not one of scenes and description and dialog A House for Mr Biswas is the book to go to for that Here, the novel s later pages are almost wholly about the actions and opinions of men as they manipulate others s emotions and reap praise and celebrity Here, it might be said, the novel becomes all voice, all Singh s persona, and the concreteness of detail commensurately flattens, dissipates The world withdraws A collapse is coming Singh retreats inward One has the sense in the end of a lost person, the homunculus peering out of his vessel in desperation, withdrawing, giving up the world.

  2. says:

    The Mimic Men is a work of fiction about a man who grew up on a Caribbean island called Isabella not a real island As an adult he moved to England for a while, came back to Isabella, trying to help reconstruct it after it stopped being an English colony and ultimately failing Ralph Singh is a man who tries to Anglicize himself In school he changes his name to Ralph from Ranjit Kripalsingh The story fluctuates back and forth between the two cultures as Ralph Singh tries to come to terms with his identity inside a Caribbean culture while trying to apply English attributes to his person and life There are wheels within wheels because Singh is a man of Caribbean culture but also from Indian culture yet he is not Indian either He is Indian suffused with the culture of the islands.The story has its moments When he describes his life on the island, his family and relatives, I see glances of a vividness in his culture among Indians, whites and those of African descent, not to mention all the ones who share each race, which is quite common in the Caribbean But these moments only occasionally flash here and there.Singh tries to blend into the Englishness of the U.K He marries a white woman, has affairs with many others, but he cannot warm up to the people or their way of life However, going back to Isabella, he no longer fits in there either.Really, I had a hard time understanding or caring about the characters of this novel A lot that was going on was not clear to me, at least I failed to see the point The only thing I found interesting were the different characters Singh describes as they come into his life The least interesting part of the novel is when Singh joins a group of Socialists in the U.K Reading about him and his co horts trying to promote these ideals was just plain boring Describing people enad with causes holds no interest for me.I wish he had spent time giving the reader better views of his characters but Naipaul has a habit of writing about people without any sense of who anyone is Everyone is a stranger to him It is as if the narrator suffers from some sort of emotional detachment and is incapable of caring about anyone or anything.He gets away with it in his non fiction, at least in the one non fiction book of his I read An Area of Darkness, his travelogue of his time in India , but it simply does not brighten this existentially bland account of people from either island who I know from personal experience are filled with so much personality and color.

  3. says:

    The story of a man growing up on a Caribbean island called Isabella It is divided into three parts First his trip to England and life there He lives in a rundown hotel and meets eventually Sandra They marry and return to Isabella His mother is upset he has married a white woman Ralph Singh the name he gave himself then becomes a successful property developer He is in a group of people not really friends who envy his success He becomes estranged from his wife who is uneducated and common The second part deals with his childhood and relationships with family and friends His father leaves him and sets up a cult with political aspirations This fails Then his father becomes a leader of a small Hindu sect Ralph family is well off and he associates with his mothers side of the family who are wealthy from having the Coca Cola franchise for the island He is nearly murdered by his cousin Cecil a spoilt child who grows up to lose everything He also begins to be involved in politics The first part also includes his past relationship with his wife Sandra The life they have of building a Roman house, friends they do not like and Ralph s alienation of who he is The third part of the novel is his rise and fall as a politician and return to England to write his memoirs in a London Hotel The story captures the struggle of newly independent colonies and the naivety of politicians, corruption, greed and the making of promises to the populace that can and have never been achieved Ralph does not have the stomach for the shenanigans and instead gives up and finds a form of peace in writing his story Naipaul has a great way with words if at time heavy the story is one we are familiar with and still happens today.

  4. says:

    Sentence for sentence, he is a model of literary tact and precision for me that is why one should read this book There is not a line that does not feel considered This is precisely what Naipaul intended to say It might not be what a lot of people want to hear but I would respectfully suggest that it is far from irrelevant A lot of dull and, indeed, unsympathetic characters have had a lot to say, Camus Meursault, in his prison cell The Outsider , and Saul Bellow s Joseph, in his cheap New York boarding house Dangling Man , jump to mind but no doubt there are others.You can read a full review on my blog here.

  5. says:

    For fans of Naipaul The Mimic Men will cover familiar territory isolation, identity, apathy For newcomers to Naipaul I suggest you start somewhere else Guerrillas or A Bend in the River would probably be the best starting point In The Mimic Men we are treated to the first person account of the life of Ralph Singe, former government minister of the small island nation of Isabella, now living in exile The story is split into three non linear sections the first detailing Ralph s college years in London, and his return to Isabella with his English wife the second dealing with his youth as a privileged, yet minority Asiatic on Isabella the third covering his rise to power in the newly independent nation As with much of Naipaul s work The Mimic Men is concerned largely with the theme of identity the grander theme of post colonial national identity, as well as the smaller, though no less important, theme of personal identity Ralph like Naipaul himself is a man without a homeland Though I thought this theme was better portrayed in Guerrillas and A Bend in the River, The mimic Men is still a brilliant novel written in Naipaul s trademark brutal and precise prose.

  6. says:

    I think perhaps the style of the prose is a large factor towards my disliking this novel it just wasn t for me.However, I think the main reason I didn t like it was the protagonist, Ralph Singh I just couldn t connect to the man, no matter how hard I tried.Mostly, it felt like this was a novel that was floating by me, but that I could not grasp on to.

  7. says:

    This book makes you feel small, insignificant, and makes you question the meaning of the almost absurd lives that we all lead in a world transformed by colonialism As an Asian American, I experienced a mixture of emotions and reactions that are hard to describe Oh, and reading this book makes you feel so, so alone in this world for some reason

  8. says:

    The Mimic Men by V S NaipaulThis is not a spoiler alert per se, since I will not disclose any plot or ending However, I will not write so much about the book as what it made me feel, think and write You are welcome to read my re view , but if you want to know about the plot, the style I am afraid this may be of little helpV.S Naipaul has the magic touch Writing about my impression of The Mimic Men, I think of A Bend in the River and A House for Mr Biswas To make amends for my lack of understanding of The Mimic Men, I can say that I am determined to read again not The Mimics, but one or both of the mentioned masterpieces.When you read the great work of a fabulous writer, you are bound to raise the stakes and expectations for the next book by the same acclaimed author If there are two masterpieces, it gets next to impossible to find the same satisfaction in immersing in the third.That may be what happened here I did not get hooked by The Mimic Men.It is a rare phenomenon for me I can think of three, four authors, from the top of my head that have written than four or five novels that I loved They are Marcel Proust, Somerset Maugham, Herman Hesse and Thomas Mann And the books I am referring to are In Search of Lost Time which could be looked at as a whole long novel, or the best story ever told in 6 novelsSomerset Maugham has fascinated me with Of Human Bondage rated among the best novels of the 20th century The Painted Veil, Short Stories practically all of them , Cakes and Ale and The Moon and Six PenceHerman Hesse is a Nobel Prize Winner and the well known author of Siddhartha, Narcissus and Goldmund which overwhelmed me and I am in the process of reading again and The wonderful The Glass Bead GameThomas Mann again a Nobel Prize Winner and marvelous writer I loved first of all The Magic Mountain included among the best books ever written, together with some other of Thomas Mann s works , Death in Venice, The Buddenbrooks and Joseph and His Brothers Thomas Mann has a short story, apart from the novels mentioned, which had a tremendous impact on me I am afraid I do not know the name of the tale and it may be rather irrelevant, for it is one message in it which pierced my heart not the whole story, since I do not recollect much of the rest One character in the short story says something like this I look around and I am amazed I hear people complaining all the time I love you so much, I have no words to express itAnother one says Our friendship means so much, words are too small.The character says Words like love and friendship mean so much that we do not find them in real life Only in books you find love and friends Love is a feeling, in its definition, that goes way beyond what people around feelThe same with friendshipA friend will stay with us, help us foe ever But not in real lifeIf we look at the multitude of facebook friendships which mean next to nothing, he is right and accurate for our times.I wrote about a Thomas Mann than about The Mimic Men but I did warn you, didn t I Included here would be one of those smileys, but I have read that Martin Seligman feels they are useless and I agree, they are so much used and abused that they have ceased to mean anything like so many of those big words patriotism, I care for you.

  9. says:

    When I first got this book, I turned to a random page and read a paragraph To my delight, I chanced on some sentimental, musing passage about the misery of being alone, that was melancholic yet moving, and my expectations for the book rose Unfortunately, the sample I encountered proved to be very representative, and I quickly tired of the narrator s pathetic and mopey writing style The benefit Some parts are so sad they are funny The novel does explore some deeper worthwhile topics about immigration and patriation, and offers pretty regular comments about breasts the narrator is obsessed with describing every breast he encounters, particularly his girfriend s, whose nipples are painted with lipstick , but besides that it s drudgery to read.

  10. says:

    This book is utterly lacking in plot, interesting characters, or anything useful to say about the human condition What makes it all the frustrating is that this should be interesting it s about a businessman turned socialist politician in a newly free Island nation But instead of getting gripping highlights from his rise and fall from power, Naipaul chooses instead to make his narrator detached and cynical, for literary effect or something it is as if he is actively sabotaging his own book Over half the book is uninteresting biographical details and random musings, with all the action taking place in passing I m not usually a purist when it comes to show, don t tell, but my goodness was this boring.

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