At the centre of this extraordinary historical narrative are two linked themes: the grinding down of the aborigines during the long rivalries of the quest for El Dorado, the mythical kingdom of gold; and, two hundred years later, the man-made horror of the new slave colony.
In The Loss of El Dorado, V. S. Naipaul shows how the alchemic delusion of El Dorado drew the small island of Trinidad into the vortex of world events, making it the object of Spanish and English colonial designs and a Mecca for treasure-seekers, slave-traders, and revolutionaries. And through an accumulation of casual, awful detail, he takes us as close as we can get to day-to-day life in the Caribbean slave plantations - at the time thought to be more brutal than their American equivalents.
In this brilliantly researched book, living characters large and small are rescued from the records and set in a larger, guiding narrative - about the New World, empire, African slavery, revolution - which is never less than gripping.
V.S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932. He came to England on a scholarship in 1950. He spent four years at University College, Oxford, and began to write, in London, in 1954. He pursued no other profession. His novels include A House for Mr Biswas, The Mimic Men, Guerrillas, A Bend in the River, and The Enigma of Arrival. In 1971 he was awarded the Booker Prize for In a Free State. His works of nonfiction, equally acclaimed, include Among the Believers, Beyond Belief, The Masque of Africa, and a trio of books about India: An Area of Darkness, India: A Wounded Civilization and India: A Million Mutinies Now. In 1990, V. S. Naipaul received a knighthood for services to literature; in 1993, he was the first recipient of the David Cohen British Literature Prize. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001. He lived with his wife Nadira and cat Augustus in Wiltshire, and died in 2018.