Sunday, June 17, 2007

V. S. Naipaul to his Father

University College, Oxford
February 20, 1953

Dear Pa,
I got your letter this morning and I was greatly cheered to find that you seem to be taking things in your stride. In a way I am not surprised, for the only test of man's greatness is his behaviour in times of distress.

I have been speaking to the Dean about getting a job. I have no wish to stay in England, nor do I wish to live the rest of my life in Trinidad. I lay down one requisite for any country I wish to reside in--it must be a big country. This does not mean that I shall give up my obligations to you. Far from it. It is only in the big countries that one can make money in reasonable quantities. The Dean thinks the prospect of my getting a job in this country is a pretty bleak one, and I never thought otherwise. He thinks, however, that I can perhaps represent a firm in some country--or something like that. But whatever it is, I am not worried, and I want you not to worry either . . .

The other day I was reading some letters of Horace Walpole--the 18th century gossip--about the balloon fad in his time. He was full of contempt for people who went up in balloons. I later discovered that great progress was made in the early nineteenth century in ballooning. In 1836, a balloon left London and--in 18 hours--had travelled 500 miles to Nassau, in Germany!

Please send your stories as soon as possible. We shall probably place them.
Do all you can to stay well. Don't worry. Your troubles are almost at an end. Believe me.
Your respectful and affectionate son, Vido

-from Letters Between a Father and Son by V. S. Naipaul; with an introduction by Gillon Aitken. (London: Little, Brown and Company, 1999) p. 241-242.

1 comment:

Humour and last laugh said...

interesting blog. Seems v s naipual too had a hard life. read more of your blog.