Sunday, November 6, 2011

Writing like a woman -V S Naipaul

 I came across this last June from Nobel Prize winning author, V.S. Naipaul:

"Women writers are different. They are quite different. I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think it is unequal to me. This is due to their sentimentality and narrow view of the world. And inevitably for a woman she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too."

How sweet.

Given that I've never read any of Mr Naipaul's work, I can't comment on whether his writing is imbued with his very obviously balanced, (not) outlook on all things gender related. A glance back at my own reading list for the past year:
Ann Enright
Lorrie Moore
Francine Prose
Kate Atkinson
Charlotte Bronte
Scarlett Thomas
Susan Hill
Ann Tyler
Helen Simpson
Jennifer Johnson

does make me wonder if maybe I need to check out my own impartiality. Guess it looks as if I just prefer to read fiction written by women -so hurrah for 'sentimentality' and a  'narrow view of the world'.

So in the spirit of trying to find out whether I could genuinely recognise male writing, I decided to take a brilliant test provided by the Guardian newspaper.

And ended up with a dismal 5 out of 10, together with a message that my 'sloppy effort' shows I obviously need to read more male writing.

For the sheer fun of it and to test whether you can recognise female writing, why not give the test a go!


Susannah said...

Oooh, isn't that interesting?

Don't feel too bad, I just went and took the test and only got 4 out of 10! :-)

They may have picked passages that were aimed to misdirect maybe. Either way, it wasn't easy was it?

Hope all is well with you. x

Debbie said...

Oh dear, I got 5 as well. I found myself playing devil's devil's advocate - doing the opposite of what I thought was right in case it was a catch. Surely, though, the difference in voice of authors is greater than any differences that might arise from gender - just like with babies. My three daughters have such different personalities that their genders are secondary, if that makes sense. Can't say S Naipaul will be on my Chrsitmas list this year. Fascinating blog, Mari. DX

Mari G said...

Susannah - I agree the passages were well picked & it wasn't easy. Most of those taking it (in the Guardian) scored fairly low.

Debbie -I think Mr Naipaul is just showing a narrow side of his nature -as you say voices are individual, irrespective of gender. He did stir up a good old debate though!

Anonymous said...

olivecollins said...

5 out of 10, I tried to find clues in the text, foolishly I associated flannel with a man.

Mari G said...

Hi Olive
The more lower scores we get, the more we're proving Naipaul wrong. I think.

Anonymous said...

I got four out of ten and was told I needed to read more male writing.

Emerging Writer said...

6 out of 10. Pathetic! Or just, as you say, proof that VS is a wally

eileen k said...

6 out of ten for me. They were well chosen and i agree with Susannah that some seemed to be deliberately chosen because they look like the opposite, and like Debbie i sometimes found myself picking the less obvious! interesting though. must take more note when I'm reading.
must remember never to read any V.S. Naipaul, on principle!

Mari G said...

Paul - male perspective welcome. Lower the score, more Naipaul's theory leaks.
Kate - wally is a bit polite. Wonder how he would have scored himself?
Eileen -I think like you, I'll prob be avoiding Mr N too.

Rita Crampton said...

I think Mr. Naipaul is just plain bitchy - or else he has never been able to pass a similar test himself. I got 6 out of 10 and I read male authors all the time - ah damn..please don't tell me I'm a narrow minded reader! On reflection, I think VSN is very afraid - and rightly so.

Mari G said...

Hi Rita -fear may well be it for Mr N. Those passages are far from sentimental or narrow, I thought anyway.
See you soon.

Guilie said...

Six out of ten here--I was also told my thinking is sloppy and I need to read more books by men. Yeech.

I cannot believe this guy. Seriously? A woman is never fully the master of her house? He must be one seriously hen-pecked misogynist who lives in daily terror of the power of women. Poor man.

Mari G said...

Hi Guilie
Mr N is certainly revealing his insecure side.
Thanks for taking the test and nice to meet you!