AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume2, Number 1, February 2018                                       Pp. 26-38

‘The trunks of trees washed up by the sea’: Of Uprootedness and Shipwreck in V. S. Naipaul’s The Mimic Men


Sorbonne Nouvelle University – Paris 3


Abstract PDF

This paper investigates the notion of uprootnedness and cultural shipwreck in the Trinidadian novelist V. S. Naipaul’s novel The Mimic Men (1967). Although the novel’s fictional island may stand for Trinidad, this paper stresses the fact that, according to Naipaul, the disordered Isabella may well match the characteristics of other chaotic Third World nations. The narrator-protagonist symbolizes more of the disillusionment worthy of Naipaul’s other placeless characters like Salim in A Bend in the River and Mr. Biswas in A House for Mr Biswas. This means that Naipaul tries a writing of a (hi)story that adheres to his personal idiosyncrasies and beliefs, a narrative in which he exposes the abnormalities and pretences of a society in which nothing seems sure and lasting. As the title of the novel suggests, the pattern is that of mimicry; postcolonial countries, all together lacking a sense of creativity, duplicate and distort metropolitan models. Thus, this paper sheds light in the tunnel between the ‘us’ (Europeans) and the ‘them’ (Caribbean) arguing that for Naipaul the first stands for authenticity and reality while the second signifies mimicry and unreality.

Cite as:

BAAZIZI, N.  (2018). ‘The trunks of trees washed up by the sea’: Of Uprootedness and Shipwreck in V. S. Naipaul’s The Mimic Men. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies, 2 (1).


Dr. Nabil Baazizi has completed and defended his PhD dissertation at the University of Paris 3 – Sorbonne
Nouvelle. Entitled “The Problematics of Writing Back to the Imperial Centre: Joseph Conrad, Chinua
Achebe, and V. S. Naipaul in Conversation,” it traces the literary genealogies of colonial and postcolonial
narratives, investigating the strategies of decolonizing fictions in Africa and the Caribbean. Dr. Baazizi has
received many grants and fellowships to French, American and Canadian universities where he explored
his main areas of research, namely postcolonial literature. He has also participated in numerous
international conferences and published articles on these issues. His latest articles appear in Commonwealth
Essays and Studies and Arab World English Journal.