The Loss of El Dorado

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Loss of El Dorado, by the Nobel Prize winner V. S. Naipaul, is a history book about Venezuela and Trinidad. It was published in 1969. The title refers to the El Dorado legend.

The Loss of El Dorado
First edition
Author V. S. Naipaul
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre History
Publisher André Deutsch
Publication date
Media type Print

Naipaul looks at the Spanish/British colonial rivalry in the Orinoco basin, drawing on contemporary sources written in Spanish and English.[1] The book examines the obsessive quest for gold which was typical of the first Europeans to explore the region. In particular, Sir Walter Raleigh's voyages are examined with a psychological depth more typical of novels than historical works.

In the second half of the book, the focus shifts to Trinidad around the beginning of the nineteenth century under British colonial rule. Naipaul gives a lot of attention to the trial of Sir Thomas Picton, but he also looks at Venezuela's struggle for independence from Spain.

Like most of Naipaul's work, "The Loss of El Dorado" has received considerable critical recognition. On publication its admirers included the Cambridge historian John H. Plumb. However, the author has confessed to not being completely happy with his book. He reworked some of its material in a later book, A Way in the World, where historical narrative is treated in a different way, and is in part rendered as fiction.[2]


  • La pérdida de El Dorado (Spanish translation by Flora Casas, Madrid 2001).[3]


  1. ^ According to Paul Theroux´s book "Sir Vidia's Shadow", Naipaul was assisted in his research by his first wife, Patricia Hale
  2. ^ Gussow, Mel (April 24, 1994) V. S. Naipaul in Search of Himself: A Conversation, New York Times
  3. ^ José María Lassalle Ruiz (12 May 2001), La Trinidad caribeña de V. S. Naipaul, (review of Spanish translation)