Tag Islam

The heart of the pathetic: V.S. Naipaul’s religious journeys

cc Shahram Sharif/flickr

Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey, by V.S. Naipaul (Random House, 1982), 430 pp.
A Turn in the South, by V.S. Naipaul (Vintage, 1990), 307 pp.

One of the advantages of getting your reading material from public libraries is finding handwritten notes and comments from your fellow readers in the pages of a borrowed book. Usually these are limited to inscrutable underlining and earnest corrections of minor facts. Occasionally, though, the comments are more entertaining: angry little essays scrawled in the margins. These protestations are, I would submit, one of the more gratifying forms of vandalism: a reminder to the solitary reader that he is but one of a league of citizens through whose hands, over the course of decades, this particular book will pass.