Three of Naipaul’s best works of fiction, In a Free State, Guerrillas and A Bend in the River, were written in England during the ten years when he lived in Wiltshire, interrupted by travels abroad on assignments as a journalist. While offering portraits and analysis of the postcolonial world, their main concerns are the nature of freedom, commitment and authenticity in relation to experience and giving purpose to life. Ideas are questioned by actualities. The focus is usually on individuals, their hopes, desires, fears; lives show the real as opposed to abstract theoretical problems of liberty and human nature. These novels are rich in psychology, in awareness of how insecurity is transformed into violence and tyranny. People are often driven by self-defeating emotions and repeat the same patterns of behaviour. Personal lives illuminate the political. In a world without stability or purpose is there anything more than the law of the jungle, the hunter and the prey?
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