Studying to be Singular

studying_singular

by Landeg White

Buy Amazon UK
Buy Amazon USA

Studying to be Singular is a double biography. First of John Gabriel Stedman, 1744 – 1797, the idiosyncratic artist and soldier. Secondly of the book he wrote about his five years’ campaigning in Suriname – at once a travelogue, a history, a military record, a naturalist’s diary, an anthropological classic, and one of the great love stories of the late 18C, reflected in a series of plays, poems, novels, and pamphlets that constitute the book’s afterlife.

Within the book are dozens of illustrations, including the engravings by William Blake – based on Stedman’s sketchings of scenes from the Suriname planter-slave society, which were used by the abolitionist movement in their campaign against slavery. Also included are several original watercolours by John Gabriel Stedman, published for the first time.

Reviews

“Landeg White’s handsome and vivid account of Stedman, Studying to be Singular: John Gabriel Stedman, 1744-1797, itself delightfully illustrated, is a felt and eloquent tribute by one of our most versatile men of letters, poet, novelist, translator, connoisseur of empire, and warrior for justice.”

Claude Rawson


Read More

V.S. Naipaul

v.s.naipual

by Landeg White
Macmillan Press 1975

Buy Amazon UK
Buy Amazon USA

V.S. Naipaul is a controversial writer, blamed by West Indian critics for racial arrogance and by their English counterparts for contenting himself with being charming. He produces a book almost every year yet his favourite words are ‘absurdity’ and ‘exhaustion’. He has created a range of characters of Dickensian memorability yet he admits to a constant struggle against contempt. His technical accomplishment and elegance of style are unquestioned yet he is often visibly at odds with the novel form. He re-creates his background in infectiously loving detail yet he ends every book with a celebration of escape.

This book attempts to resolve such contradictions by examining his development as a writer. Drawing on a knowledge of Naipaul’s Trinidad background, and revealing much about his sources, the author offers us a coherent picture of one of our most fascinating novelists.

Reviews

“ … a fine piece of work, much superior to the other two studies which have been published. White’s book is well-written and well-organised, its analyses are consistently perceptive and its judgements consistently sensible.”

Critical Quarterly

Read More