Associate Professor of Literatures in English @ Brigham Young University
Aaron Eastley is Associate Professor of Literatures in English at Brigham Young University in Utah, USA. He holds a PhD from the University of California at San Diego, and specializes in transnational literatures in English, British Modernism, and diaspora and globalization studies. His scholarship relating to the Caribbean includes articles analyzing V. S. and Seepersad Naipaul’s Letters Between a Father and a Son, the 1946 Trinidad general election in relation to V.S. Naipaul’s early fiction, and the historical and cultural context of the East Indian revival in Trinidad in relation to both Seepersad Naipaul’s Gurudeva collection and V.S. Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas. These articles have appeared in journals ranging from the Journal of Caribbean Literatures to ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature and Twentieth-Century Literature.
Geographical location : Utah, USA
Research Area and Interest :
Seepersad Naipaul’s Trinidad
The Journalism of Seepersad Naipaul from 1928-1953
Seepersad Naipaul has the curious distinction of being widely known of, but hardly known. Many know of him as the inspiration behind the title character of his son V. S. Naipaul’s famous novel A House for Mr. Biswas. Few can say with any specificity how that fictional caricature matches the man. V. S. himself commented, “My father was a profounder man in every way.” If this is true, one wonders why V. S. did not choose to render him as such. On closer inspection, one also quickly discovers that the setting of Biswas is markedly misleading. Like the version of Seepersad in the novel, the vision of Trinidad in Biswas is satirically simplified and reduced. A House for Mr. Biswas, one is forced to conclude, tells us much more about the consciousness and insecurities of the young V. S. Naipaul than it ever tells us about the real character of his father, or the nature of life in Trinidad in the first half of the twentieth century. That said, the quality of the caricature is not in question. The novel is a work of literary genius, and there is a deeper truth to what V. S. portrays. Furthermore, its evocative portrayal inspires a desire to appreciate all facets of both the fictional and real person and situation—both for comparative purposes and to value Seepersad and his world for themselves. One of the best ways in which this can be done is by perusing what is by far the most prominent body of published work produced by the real Seepersad Naipaul: the vast trove of newspaper articles he wrote over the course of two and a half decades, from 1928 to 1953. What emerges is a complex portrait of a vibrant society covered in the press first by a plucky and sometimes prejudiced young reporter, largely self-taught, then by a more seasoned and sympathetic but still keenly curious senior journalist—one very much in the milieu of a Trinidad East Indian community modernizing very rapidly and very discordantly.