The story of a writer's singular journey-from one place to another, from the British colony of Trinidad to the ancient countryside of England, and from one state of mind to another-this is perhaps Naipaul's most autobiographical work. Yet it is also woven through with remarkable invention to make it a rich and complex novel.
Will men never end their hideous cruelties?
Will writers never end their need to horrify us?
Themes are the journey, arrival, dislocation and alienation. Another theme is change. Over all it was enjoyable but not engaging. I can appreciate the quality of the work. Naipaul is truly a great author deserving of accolades.
another interesting tidbit; the landlord is modeled after Stephen Tennat (1906 to 1987), a 1920s socialite. He also is used as model in E. Waugh's novels, Cedric Hampton in Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford.
To be frank, I have read much more non-fiction than fiction of Naipaul, and then mostly his earlier short novels set in Trinidad, and reading The enigma of arrival I was struck by the beautiful descriptions. The biographical background information deepened my appreciation, although I am sure the book can be enjoyed without that.
Although Naipaul was very poor during the first years of his stay in London, little of that is visible in this book, which seems more focused on the period he was coming into his own, and found a safe have on the estate of Stephen Tennant (1906-1987), who offerend him a kind of writer's residence. The atmosphere of the book throughout is that of nostalgia, melancholy.