Times 2

V S Naipaul slams women writers

Including Jane Austen – for their 'sentimentality and feminine tosh'

Nobel laureate V S Naipaul has criticised female writers, especially Jane Austen, claiming they are 'unequal' to him. Naipaul, known for his outspoken views, made the comments during an interview about his literary career.

The Trinidad-born writer said: 'Women writers are different, they are quite different. I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think (it is) unequal to me.'
He said this was due to their 'sentimentality, the narrow view of the world'.

He added: 'And inevitably for a woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too.' Naipaul even made a reference to his publisher, saying that when she became a writer herself 'it was all this feminine tosh' before adding: 'I don't mean this in any unkind way.'

He holds a particular disregard for Jane Austen and said he didn't think there was a female writer who could be considered his equal. Of Austen he said he 'couldn't possibly share her sentimental ambitions, her sentimental sense of the world'.

The Booker Prize winner, who has been described as 'the greatest living writer of English prose', made the comments to the Royal Geographic Society on Tuesday. The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain said it did not want to 'waste its breath' on the comments.

Born in Trinidad in 1932, Naipaul was a descendant of indentured labourers shipped from India. He came to Britain when he won a scholarship to Oxford. He has previously criticised India's leading female authors for their 'banality' on the topic he is best known for writing about, the legacy of British colonialism, and has described post-colonial countries as 'half-made societies'.

He also had a 15-year feud with U.S. travel writer and author Paul Theroux after Theroux discovered that a book he gave Naipaul had been put on sale for £916. However, the pair appeared to make up at the Hay Festival this week when they were seen shaking hands and speaking briefly.

The Daily Telegraph's literary critic Helen Brown described Naipaul's comments as 'arrogant, attention-seeking'. He has previously been described by his biographer Patrick French as bigoted, arrogant, vicious, racist, a woman-beating misogynist and a sado-masochist.

© Daily Mail, London

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