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The Mystic Masseur Paperback – 12 Oct 2001


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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New edition edition (12 Oct 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330487043
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330487047
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,197,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"One of the few contemporary writers of whom we can speak in terms of greatness."-Mel Gussow, "Newsday" "For sheer abundance of talent, there can hardly be a writer alive who surpasses V. S. Naipaul."-"The New York Times Book Review ""Naipaul's writing is clean and beautiful, and he has a great eye for nuance."-"The Atlantic Monthly ""No one else around today...seems able to employ prose fiction so deeply as the very voice of exile."-"The New York Review of Books "

Book Description

Two of V. S. Naipaul's earliest novels, already displaying his humour, endless inventiveness and imaginitive brilliance. The Mystic Masseur tells the story of Ganesh, who at the beginning of the novel is a struggling masseur at a time when 'masseurs were ten a penny in Trinidad'. From failed primary-school teacher and masseur to author, revered mystic and MBE, his is a journey memorable for its hilarious and bewildering success. Naipaul's clarity of style, humorous touch and powerful characterization are all in evidence in this, his first book. Funny, touching and perceptive, this novel is a wonderful introduction for readers new to Naipaul's writing. Included too in this edition is another exceptional early novel, MIGUEL STREET, which won the Somerset Maugham Award on its appearance in 1959. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
LATER HE WAS TO BE famous and honoured throughout the South Caribbean; he was to be a hero of the people and, after that, a British representative at Lake Success. Read the first page
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Dec 2001
Format: Paperback
The Mystic Masseur was Naipaul's first novel, and it is probably the best known of his works (a movie has been turned out by Messrs. Merchant & Ivory, although at the date of writing it has not yet been released to the public). The main character is one Ganesh Ramsumair, the son of an Indian immigrant to Trinidad, who seems to be blessed by fortune. Each time he is in danger of taking a wrong turn, his fate steps in and gently nudges him in the right direction. Ganesh first attends school in Port of Spain, where he feels inadequate and has only one friend, clever anglophile Indarsingh, who leaves for Oxford upon graduation. Ganesh then attends a teacher's college, and takes a position as an elementary school teacher. He is not a success and resigns his position for a life of idleness, which is ended when his father dies, bequeathing to him some land and some royalties from an oil company. When attending his father's funeral he meets his formidable relation, The Great Belcher, who is one of these wise elderly Indian women who are accostumed to running funerals, marriages, businesses and lives for their younger folk. He also meets Ramlogan, extremely unpleasant owner of a rhum shop who is quarrelsome but cowardly, and not above any underhandedness (he will turn up again and play a crucial part in Naipaul's "The Suffrage of Elvira"), whose daughter Leela he marries. Much more devious than would appear initially, Ganesh takes advantage of Ramlogan's pride and extracts from him a house in a remote village and a significant dowry. This is fortunate, because at this time the oil royalty checks stop coming in. Ganesh and Leela move into the Ramlogan's house, and quickly become acquainted with the local rhum-shop owner, Suruj Poopa, who becomes Ganesh's true friend and sounding board.Read more ›
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 Sep 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a sneaky one. At first I found myself reading a funny, lyrical book about the non-adventures of its charming hero, Ganesh. I was seduced by its dusty Trinidad locations and startled and amused by the day to day dramas and confrontations of its fullsome characters, none of them too good or too bad to be true, all real to me. I found myself believiing, beleiving in Ganesh the guru and his dreams. Then Naipaul abruptly finishes with a surprise that made me feel like I had received a short sharp lesson from a very wise man. It'll leave you thinking about it long after you've finished the book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Jun 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the first Naipaul book I have read and I liked it.
The story focuses on a character called Ganesh - the eponymous "mystic masseur" . In the first chapter we learn that Ganesh is famous and successful. The writer then proceeds to recount
Ganesh's life to us from boyhood to manhood. There is little that is remarkable about the hero's life, except that he has a strong disinclination to work. The impetus to read on, lies in wanting to know how this somewhat lazy but likeable character achieves his success.
The writer tells the story of Ganesh in a very tongue in cheek manner. The characters are constantly seen to be hypocritical and self-contradictory - their egos frequently cloud their logic but they are no less likeable for this all too human foible.
This is a good book. It reminds us of something that we already know, but sometimes forget: regardless of race, creed, colour, etc., men are essentially all alike in their tendency to be ridiculous.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Patel on 6 Mar 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The story follows the rise of Ganesh, from mystic massuer to politician. Sharp observations and penatrating humour, Naipaul's masterly prose probes the lives of a disparate Indian community in Trinidad.
The character Ramlogan, is portrayed with great insight and humour. His personality so typical of many Indians is a sublime comic creation that had me laughing out loud.
The power of Naipaul's writing lies in his simplicity and ultra-objectivism. It's the first novel I have read of his and it has given me a desire to read more (his travel writing, particularly his trilogy on India, is indispensible for any one interested in India).
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Format: Paperback
This book got to me for a number of reasons, got to me for mainly good reasons. Firstly though, it is described, on the rear cover, as "...one of the authors finest comic creations....." I find the book humorous on times but this is not a belly laughter book - and presumably not meant to be either - but the characters certainly do have a comic nature. In this way it reminded me of Stella Gibbon's novel, "Cold Comfort Farm" which was written in 1932 and I described as "Slowing you down to the speed of the day" Something that "The Mystic Masseur" also does.

I had a feeling of uneasiness at the beginning of the book as it seemed to be disparaging toward the people of Trinidad and the way they spoke. Seeing that the author was born in Trinidad, of Indian extraction, seemed to justify the books actions. Then the feeling progressed into slight confusion. Firstly, showing my own ignorance, I had no idea that there were Indians and people of Indian extraction, in Trinidad. This led, for me, to a confused reading of the dialect. It started to come off the page and into my head as an Afro Caribbean / West Indian dialect, as that seems to be the way in which it is written. Later, I was reading the dialect as Caribbean with a slight Indian inflection to some of the words. Whether right or wrong, it added to, rather than diminished my enjoyment.

"You know she, then?"

"Know she! Is I who take up King George. Mark you, I think I was very lucky coming across she. Now I take she everywhere with me."

"She related to us?"

"You could say so. Phulbassia is a sort of cousin to King George and you is a sort of cousin to Phulbassia."

The aunt belched, not the polite after-dinner belch, but a long, stuttering thing.
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