Salman Rushdie has been in hiding for over a decade due to assassins who are out searching for him because of his “anti-Islamic blasphemy, belief and disbelief, anti-Thatcher politics, and pro-Western propaganda” (Kuortti 1999: 15). Even though Iranian leader, Khomeini, who initially established the fatwa on Rushdie, has died, leaders have left a money reward on his life for his controversial novels that radically display his strong historical and political critiques on South Asian and the Middle Eastern countries. Author Damian Grant believes that Rushdie would be “…best seen as a critic rather than a novelist at all” due to the upheavals provoked by his opinionated writings (Grant 1998: 41).
One of his first novels, Midnight's Children, directs its attentions towards India around the time of Pakistan's succession. The story is narrated by a Bombay-native named Saleem Sinai who was born on August 15, 1947, the day of India's independence from Britain. He possesses magical abilities that link him mentally (and ably) to the group of Indian children born on the same day as he was; they are called midnight's children. Their life experiences seemingly change (and are changed by) India. The entire novel is a commentary of India's historical and political status according to Rusdhie. But what does Salman Rushdie have to say about India? What specific criticisms does he make regarding India's known history? How does he use Saleem's story to portray his opinions on India's known past? What are some of the responses to his novel and views of India, and how does he defend himself? Finally, are his points valid enough to be integrated into how India and its past are viewed by outsiders, or how it views itself?
[...] In Salman Rushdie Interviews: A Sourcebook of His Ideas. Chauhan, Pradyumna ed. Pp.21 - 31. London: Greenwood Press. Dube, Rani Salma Rushdie. In Salman Rushdie Interviews: A Sourcebook of His Ideas. Chauhan, Pradyumna ed. Pp. 7-17. London: Greenwood Press. Glendinning, Victoria A Novelist in the Country of the Mind. In Salman Rushdie Interviews: A Sourcebook of His Ideas. Chauhan, Pradyumna ed. Pp.3- London: Greenwood Press. Goonetilleke, D.C.R.A [...]
[...] Thus, Rushdie tells us that “India, the new myth a collective fiction in which anything was possible” (Rushdie 1982: 112). Rushdie also explores the theme of inaccuracy in Midnight's Children. Saleem continuously mixes up his historical dates and stumbles on facts left and right, excusing it as a side-effect of his internal fragmentation before he dies. For example, he misplaces Gandhi's death in his story and later apologizes for his inconsistencies. He cannot change around his perception of history, though, because then his story would crumble before it would end. [...]
[...] However, unlike the Metcalf's assumption of Indian history that India has always had a real history, Rushdie explores the idea that India's history was not until after the British Raj ended; that the British conjured up a fictitious depiction of India and its ancient past. Some of the inconsistencies in India's history are due to this fabricated history, and the overall record given conjures up the idea that India was traditionally a magical and dreamlike place. In the beginning of Midnight's Children, before India's day of independence, Rushdie creates a dreamlike storyline with Saleem's predecessors in which everything is like a fairytale; from the boatman who was as old as the mountains to the romantic encounters of Saleem's grandparents, everything is out of the realistic realm and in a wonderfully serene place. [...]
[...] Because of having been under British rule which, according to Rushdie manifested a fantasized history of India the attempts to reformulate and identify India's past can only be based on what Indians remember have happened. This creates holes in historical truth and biased slants on events. Grant explains that, lesson to be drawn from this is that history is not only made, by events, but also made up, narrated, like the story of a life or the anecdotes within it. [...]
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