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reviews 111 the dwellings and hotel, the tensions between Hindus and Muslims (a theme that recurs throughout the book), not to mention the appearance of a man named Aziz—all these obviously staged details are intended to recall the "Temple" section of Forster's imperial romance. Naipaul easily assumes the mantle of Forster's omniscient narrator, commenting on the futility of the independence movement. His version of the 1857 rebellion (the locus for the book's title) simply adopts the standard (but scarcely sustainable in the light of recent historiography) British view, while his sneering account of left politics in West Bengal, both the Left Front government and the Naxalite rebellion of the late 60s, repeats all Naipaul's familiar canards about popular revolutionary movements. Naipaul may not, in this latest book, entirely buy into Forsterian liberal pessimism about what independence has brought, but he remains far from sanguine about the nation's current prospects. I have no wish to take Nixon severely to task; I want merely to signal some slight disagreement with his judgments about Naipaul's most recent works. More significant is the truth Nixon's book asserts, explicitly at the outset and implicitly throughout, that there are, in fact, two Naipauls abroad in the world: one is the honest man above politics and ideology who is consistently praised in major metropolitan journals of opinion and who has access to their pages as an authority on the Third World (and occasionally some few other topics like the 1984 Republican National Convention); the other is the imperialist ideologue surgically dismembered so skillfully by Nixon and familiar to readers who follow intellectual opinion in the Third World itself, where Naipaul merits none of the unstinting praise showered on him by the metropolitan West. The difficult question is how those of us who recognize the latter can begin to demystify the former. Writing this review for a small left-wing literary magazine is like carrying coals to Newcastle. The real challenge remains to dismantle Naipaul's authority where it is most entrenched: along the London-New York axis of anglophone cultural power. As Naipaul's own career amply illustrates , what a writer says is centrally determined by where he or she is allowed to speak, and thus to whom his or her thoughts are addressed. One can only hope that London Calling will be sympathetically noticed in some of the organs where Naipaul's own opinions have too long been allowed to go unchallenged. In all candor, however, I'm not holding my breath. Notes 'This latter judgment is mine, not Nixon's; he discerns signs in Naipaul's three most recent books, The Enigma of Arrival, A Turn in the South, and India: A Million Mutinies Now, faint indications of, in his words, "a kinder, gentler Naipaul." I remain skeptical, for reasons I'll advance later on. MICHAEL SPRINKER Rule ofDarkness: British Literature and Imperialism. 1830-1914 by Patrick Brantlinger. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1988. 309 + xi pp. $10.95 (paper). Rule of Darkness is an ambitious elaboration of what Edward Said has called "the nineteenth century academic and imaginative demonology of the 'mysterious Orient'." Refuting commonly held critical opinion that the early Victorians were "for the most part unconscious little 112 reviews Englanders' (p.3) and that literature began to reflect racist ideologies only with the so-called "scramble for Africa" in the 1 870s, Patrick Brantlinger, through an examination of a vast body of works (novels, poems, memoirs, travel narratives, adventure tales) argues that "no period in the nineteenth century can safely be called anti-imperialist or even indifferent to colonial issues" (p.7). More than the massive accumulation of territory and the economic and political domination of those territories, imperialism, in Brantlinger's study, is a habit of mind, "an evolving but pervasive set of attitudes" (p.8) expressed and culturally transmitted from one generation to the next. Brantlinger's survey of Victorian literature from 1830 to 1914 shows the centrality of culture to the imperial project. Although the argument of the book has been explored extensively in the last ten years or so, Rule of Darkness is the only book-length study to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 111-115
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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