Literature on verge of extinction: Naipaul | india | Hindustan Times
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Literature on verge of extinction: Naipaul

Literature is on the verge of extinction. These fighting words by Sir VS Naipaul got the 16th World Book Fair off to a rather unexpected start on a balmy Saturday morning. Critical of the increasingly role market demands played on the publishing industry, he warned of the adverse effects marketing was having on literature.

india Updated: Feb 16, 2004 10:26 IST

Literature is on the verge of extinction. These fighting words by Sir VS Naipaul got the 16th World Book Fair off to a rather unexpected start on a balmy Saturday morning.

Naipaul, in Delhi as a special invitee of the Human Resources Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, briefly spoke at the inauguration of the Fair.

The Fair was declared open by the Minister, who spoke eloquently of the rich literary tradition of India. He as well as the Chairman of the National Book Trust, BK Sharma and President of the Sahitya Akademi all stressed the special bond that Indians have had with literature.

Naipaul lauded the role of the Indian publishing and printing sector and said it deserved to be celebrated. However his soft-spoken but caustic remarks on the role the market has increasingly been playing. He said that marketing was eating away the literature and publisher have debased the idea of literature.

"Literature has given way to little green men, ghosts, exorcism… literature is being pushed away in favour of wizards," he said. While saying that he was not taking a moral stand, and understanding the need of literature to keep moving and recording movements, he nevertheless bemoaned the standards of popular 'literaure.'

While Joshi bemoaned the fact that Naipaul's work was not published by Indian publishers, Narang offered Sahitya Akademi's services for the same.

The nine-day fair will has about 1220 participants from India and abroad. It is expected to act as a platform for not just the sale of books, but also see a number of seminars, meetings and exchanges between publishers, scholars, writers and booklovers in general.