“The Mongoose” from a Trinidadian, Indian, Greek Point of View

My comrade Guanaguanare has published a different take on “The Mongoose.” Naipaul has been a deeply problematic figure in Trinidadian cultural politics, loved and reviled, admired and scorned. I had the pleasure of seeing him speak in Port of Spain, in 1991 I believe, in the company of friends from the University of the West Indies. The “who’s who” of Trinidadian intelligentsia showed up for this rare event, at which Naipaul declared that the novel was dead and he could write no more.

Given his position within Trinidadian debates, Guanaguanare, who like myself deeply appreciated Walcott’s poem, brings a Trinidadian perspective to bear. In that essay, Guanaguanare brings into play kalinda (stick fighting) call and response music, calypso (with a video of The Mighty Chalkdust‘s “From Naipaul to Shame” — nice to see a professor as a prominent calypsonian), and references to Hindu myths.

Guanaguanare stresses that this satire, biting comedy, is well crafted for the purposes for which it was intended. (I was almost expecting to see something about not throwing one’s pearls before swine.) To those who sneer and refer to the classics as somehow more elevated, Guanaguanare brings in Aristophanes and Euripides, the dueling Walcott-Naipaul of their time.

It’s a great piece.