V. S. Naipaul: The Mimic Men (2623 words)

Matthew Whittle (University of Kent at Canterbury)
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In his Nobel Lecture from December 7th 2001, entitled “Two Worlds”, Naipaul described The Mimic Men (1967) as being:

[A]bout colonial shame and fantasy, a book, in fact, about how the powerless lie about themselves, since it is their only resource. [...] [I]t was not about mimics. It was about colonial men mimicking the conditions of manhood, men who had grown to distrust everything about themselves.

“Mimicry” in Naipaul’s novel is thus the appropriation by “colonial men” – a general term for colonised subjects – of the power structures upon which colonialism has been built and continues to be upheld. Throughout the text, such power structures are presented in t…

Citation: Whittle, Matthew. "The Mimic Men". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 November 2013 [https://staging.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=170, accessed 26 September 2022.]

170 The Mimic Men 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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