In 2008, director and producer Adam Low debuted the film, Arena: The Strange Luck of V. S. Naipaul. A decade later, after Naipaul’s death on 11.08.18, the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival re-screened Low’s film. The fact that the film was initially shown on BBC4 to mixed reviews mattered little on this occasion to the viewing audience. The point for this audience in Trinidad and Tobago was that one of their most famous sons had died.
Like Naipaul himself, this film confines him in his Indian background, in such interesting gestures as the imposition of shehnai music on scenes of the “vast sacred burial ground” (The Enigma of Arrival) that is Wiltshire (4:41). Sadly, it fails to evoke his Caribbeanness while ironically treating his fictional Caribbean as the actual Caribbean. This digital platform called Lines of Life therefore aims to re-assert the Caribbean facet of V. S. Naipaul’s context and legacy far beyond the brief glimpse of Naipaul in a car driving through the streets of Port-of-Spain against a musical score of steelpan music. The title of the site reflects this: Lines of Life: The Naipauls of Trinidad and Tobago.
The first part of the title “Lines of Life” is a direct quote from V. S. Naipaul at the end of the film as he sits under a black poplar tree in his Wiltshire garden, tiny against the gigantic trunk (58.25), and ponders on “life and man …[as] the true mysteries” as he puts it in The Enigma of Arrival and on the “lines of life” (58.58) of the rotting poplar leaf as a symbol of life’s mysteries.
The end of the film perfectly complements the beginning in which we see distant images of his isolated house, ““the child’s dream of a safe house in the wood,” (The Enigma of Arrival) which appears miniscule against the vastness, the “Hardyesque emptiness” (V. S. Naipaul at 7:28) of the rolling hills among which it is embedded.
We aim to gather everything Naipaul into this one space in order to develop as comprehensive a Memorial site as possible.