Listen free for 30 days

  • India: A Wounded Civilization

  • By: V. S. Naipaul
  • Narrated by: Sam Dastor
  • Length: 6 hrs and 41 mins
  • 3.8 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

Thousands of incredible audiobooks and podcasts to take wherever you go.
Immerse yourself in a world of storytelling with the Plus Catalogue - unlimited listening to thousands of select audiobooks, podcasts and Audible Originals.
£7.99/month after 30 days. Renews automatically. See here for eligibility.
India: A Wounded Civilization cover art

India: A Wounded Civilization

By: V. S. Naipaul
Narrated by: Sam Dastor
Try for £0.00

£7.99/month after 30 days. Renews automatically.

Buy Now for £17.99

Buy Now for £17.99

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

Listeners also enjoyed...

India: A Million Mutinies Now cover art
An Area of Darkness cover art
A House for Mr. Biswas cover art
History of India cover art
The Anarchy cover art
A Concise History of Modern India cover art
Figures in a Landscape cover art
Partition Voices cover art
After the Dance cover art
The Ocean of Churn cover art
The Foundations of Western Civilization cover art
Railways and the Raj cover art
In the Wars cover art
Émile Zola cover art
A Passage to Africa cover art
The Complete Short Stories cover art

Summary

In 1975, at the height of Indira Gandhi’s “Emergency”, V. S. Naipaul returned to India, the country his ancestors had left 100 years earlier. Out of that journey he produced this concise masterpiece: a vibrant, defiantly unsentimental portrait of a society traumatized by centuries of foreign conquest and immured in a mythic vision of its past. 

Drawing on novels, news reports, political memoirs, and his own encounters with ordinary Indians - from a supercilious prince to an engineer constructing housing for Bombay’s homeless - Naipaul captures a vast, mysterious, and agonized continent inaccessible to foreigners and barely visible to its own people. He sees both the burgeoning space program and the 5,000 volunteers chanting mantras to purify a defiled temple; the feudal village autocrat and the Naxalite revolutionaries who combined Maoist rhetoric with ritual murder. Relentless in its vision, thrilling in the keenness of its prose, India: A Wounded Civilization is a work of astonishing insight and candor.

©1976, 1977 V. S. Naipaul (P)2021 by Blackstone Publishing
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about India: A Wounded Civilization

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Ideal team

The great V. S. Naipaul and the actor Sam Dastor, always a superb narrator, make a perfect Audible combination. Excellent editing and production values too.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Brutal, dated, but fascinating

"The poverty of the land is reflected in the poverty of the mind" - more or less the summary of the second in Naipaul's India trilogy, written more than a decade after the first, and in the wake of the 1970s state of emergency declared by Indira Ghandi.

Unlike the first book, there is no pretence here of this being a travel book. instead it is a deeply political, angry, frustrated attempt to psychoanalyse a country which, to Naipaul's mind, has few of the characteristics of a true country: No real concept of the state, being entirely local in governance; no idea of a historical past, preferring myth (including the myth of Gandhi); no idea of shared racial identity, preferring castle division.

Take that Narinda Modi!

Of course, this was all written almost fifty years ago. Much has changed. Naipaul's assertions about India's lack of scientific and engineering capability - which he attributes to a kind of stubbornly unimaginative, traditionalist Indian mindset that's one of the few things he seems to identify as a true national trait - feel totally wrong today. (Albeit not that far off, when one remembers relatively recent frustrations with Indian call centres when seeking tech support, which seem only to have substantially improved in the last few years. If Naipaul can wildly generalise, so can I.)

This is, thought still fascinating as a snapshot of a perspective on India's transition from colony to one of the world's most important powers. The idea of a psychology of nations is, of course, one that riskyms leadibg to stereotyping and oversimplification as a single unifying narrative cause is sought among the complexities of millions of people and centuries of history and culture. With a psychoanalyst uninterested in maintaining professional detachment or avoiding passing judgement, like Naipaul, it could rapidly turn into xenophobic or racist polemic. At times, were Naipaul not of Indian heritage himself, this could seem that way.

But his anger comes from a place of deep frustration at the way the promise of Indian independence was being squandered and betrayed by politicians actively encouraging divisiveness in pursuit of power, all while creating and distorting myths about the past to justify themselves.

So while this was written half a century ago, it's very much relevant to the state of Modi's India today. This was written in the period when the seeds were sown. Understanding how they were chosen and cultivated and why they grew so strongly is something Naipaul was trying to get to the bottom of here - and that's exactly what I was looking for from this ahead of the 2024 Indian elections.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!