Through The Lens, Trinidad & Tobago

Of Walcott and Naipaul

April 05, 2005

Of Walcott and Naipaul

Two buildings stand side by side on the southwestern corner of Woodford Square, not quite tributes to men of unquestionable literary renown, but still not quite heroes in their land.

Derek Walcott was born in St. Lucia and moved to Trinidad in 1953 where he became heavily involved in theatre and the arts. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992. During his early days in Trinidad Walcott's workshop was the old Fire Brigade Station — the building in the foreground. After falling into a state of disrepair and being almost condemned, the building was recently restored and declared a historic landmark. Few people remember it as the studio of a master.

Behind the old fire station the National Library of Trinidad and Tobago was built in 2001. The ultra-modern construct houses libraries for different age groups, as well as the National Heritage Library and other offices. The idea was briefly entertained to name the library complex after V.S. Naipaul (he was knighted in 1990 but rarely uses the title), the Trinidad-born, self-styled British author of Indian heritage. The part about being born and raised in Trinidad gets omitted, frequently, even by him. Naipaul is certainly the most accomplished and most renowned author from Trinidad, perhaps even the Caribbean, and in 2001 he too was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Despite the vitriol and distate he frequently levels at his birthplace this award was widely celebrated in Trinidad. Not, though, to the point of honouring him with the National Library bearing his name.

Posted by phototakeouter at 08:47 PM | Comments (2)

Nice perspective. I'm not sure about the focus point, though. I think I would prefer it to be on the building rather than on the gate.
Anyway, thanks again for the story. I really did enjoy it.

April 6, 2005 02:20 PM, Andreas

Hi there, very nice site you have here. I really like the fact that you have put detailed descriptions of the buildings and history of the culture surrounding them; it is very useful and fascinating to get perspective on a culture that is not familiar.

April 6, 2005 11:00 AM, kukame

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