Now, read this:
V. S. Naipaul's novel A House for Mr. Biswas has always been important to me. At times in my life I have admired it extravagantly . . . despite the fact that, from the first few words, I could tell that it had been written by a non-Anglo-Saxon man raised in a hot-weather British colony.
I am determined to continue caring about A House for Mr. Biswas. After all, I am interested in characters and settings that require me to look outside myself. This is one of the gifts of literature. Or so I have always thought.
Being a writer and a reader who "is not a complete master of a house," I have endeavored to spend some time in those mysterious rooms and passageways beyond my ken: John Milton's, for instance. I find them instructive. I think Milton might have found my rooms and passageways instructive as well. Also surprising. Also alarming.
Sentimentality is a handy generalization, useful to call upon when one wants to label a woman as an inferior life form because (1) she finds it interesting to love babies, horses, handsome young men, her mother, an aging baldster, or anyone else she happens to care about in affectionate and tragicomic detail or (2) she finds it painful to lose that baby, horse, handsome young man, mother, or aging baldster, whether by death or indifference. Surprisingly enough, however, some people feel that close attention to such reactions and emotions is integral to the experience of being human.
If, in Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen could create a character as memorable as Mr. Collins, imagine what she could do with a character such as V. S. Naipaul.
Aphorisms: Paradise Lost was written down by women. Kitchen drawers hide sharp knives. Virginia Woolf's novels are better than V. S. Naipaul's. Scrub your own fucking floor, you asshole.