Laureate's manuscripts housed at University of Tulsa

Thursday, October 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ V.S. Naipaul's Nobel Prize in literature has bolstered the prestige of the University of Tulsa, which houses his original manuscripts and other materials.

The 69-year-old British novelist and essayist was awarded the Nobel Prize on Thursday. The Tulsa school has kept Naipaul's materials since 1991.

Born in Trinidad, Naipaul was recognized for his scrutiny of postcolonial society and critical assessments of Muslim fundamentalism.

The University of Tulsa has an arrangement to house all his materials and gets periodic shipments from the author. The collection also includes correspondences, family photos and personal financial records.

``It's very prestigious,'' English professor George Gilpin said. ``It's one of the things that gives TU an international reputation.''

The works are part of special collections at the university's McFarlin Library, which also houses first editions of ``Ulysses'' and literary rarities of James Joyce.

Manuscripts from Naipaul include first drafts from throughout his career. The 4,200-student private university houses all drafts of some works.

Lifelong correspondences include letters from Naipaul to his parents when he was a student at Oxford in England. His writings are in English.

The public can view Naipaul's manuscripts. The correspondences are not currently available to the public.

Naipaul's career includes more than 20 fiction and nonfiction works from more than 50 years. A descendant of immigrants from northern India, he left Trinidad at age 18 to study at Oxford.

His 1987 autobiographical novel, ``The Enigma of Arrival,'' is about the collapse of the old colonial ruling culture. Other famous books include ``A House for Mr. Biswas'' and ``A Bend in the River.''

The Nobel committee also cited his travel books and documentary works _ ``Among the Believers'' and ``Beyond Belief'' _ in which he criticizes Muslim fundamentalism in Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia and Pakistan.

The author began looking for a place of safekeeping for his materials after a London bank inadvertently destroyed some kept in a warehouse.

``That bought home to him the importance of getting his papers in an institution that was organized and could keep them safe and not destroy them,'' said Lori Curtis, head of special collections at Tulsa.

Gilpin and others contacted Naipaul's agent and convinced the author that the university could provide the service he wanted.

``We have a lot of students we've attracted because we have his writings and those of other 20th century writers,'' Gilpin said.

The university has 12 professors besides other instructors, 60 graduate students and 80 undergraduate English majors.