Salman Rushdie's novel 'The Enchantress of Florence' is a powerful and multi-dimensional expression of the incarnation of globalization in literature. Important themes arise as relevant to globalization through the technical advantages of magic realism, which Rushdie employs as the key component for unveiling otherwise improbable dimensions of story telling in historical fiction. The most important thematic consistencies in light of it being a global novel arise primarily through fore-grounded variance in identity, time, place, and realism within and amongst the characters. These themes, as magnified by the effects of magic realism enhance their face value by enhancing the temporal and spatial scales in which they exist. Rushdie uses the familiar and established art of storytelling to connect meaning between the abstract natures of themes in the novel. This most fundamental theme does not enable seamless transition between in-sequential segments, but rather it further emphasizes the feeling of disjuncture that can be attributed to the intangible and conceptual magnitude of globalization.
Arjun Appadurai defines magic realism in 'Modernity at Large' as it relates to the power of the imagination as expressed in dreams, songs, fantasies, myths, and stories. He describes an important source of imagination as contact with, news of, and rumors about others who have become inhabitants of faraway worlds (Appadurai, 53). In this context, where Appadurai references more contemporary media influences, Rushdie implies storytelling as the medium for such exchanges of inspirational information. He delegates these two major components of magic realism to two major characters; the Emperor Akbar encompassing the power of the imagination and the foreigner Mogor Amore directly representing the power of storytelling. These symbols seem naturally befitting, as the two characters are respectively interconnected throughout the novel.
[...] Where time and space are seemingly compacted and possibilities expanded in the globalized contemporary world, The Enchantress of Florence mirrors this with irony, displaying the actuality of the occurrence. The question is actually raised by Akbar in a flood of theories following a dream; he asks himself, solitude banished, d[oes] one become more oneself, or less? D[oes] the crowd enhance one's selfhood or erase (Rushdie, 139). As the extreme examples of this scenario, the princess and Akbar suggest that the answer is less. [...]
[...] When the princess transcends her embedded story into the actual story of The Enchantress of Florence, she has a similar effect on the Florentine natives there; “Within moments of her coming she [was] taken to the city's heart as its special face, its new symbol of itself, the incarnation in human form of the unsurpassable loveliness which the city itself possessed.” (Rushdie, 275). Wherever the princess is seen or heard of, her contrast to the commoners seems to simplify them, as if to make her all the more immense; the collective people become one entity, and act unanimously in her favor, or against it. [...]
[...] He questions further, foreignness itself something to be embraced as a revitalizing force bestowing bounty and success upon its adherents, or d[oes] it adulterate something essential in the individual and the society as a whole, d[oes] it initiate a process of decay which would end in an alienated, inauthentic death?” (Rushdie, 319). As the novel closes, it is as if Akbar himself draws more and more parallels between the symbolism and events in his own story and its sense of being the incarnation of something much larger. [...]
[...] Enchantress of Florence, tradition becomes an important concept to consider. Appadurai notes that traditions provide relatively finite set of possible lives, and that fantasy and imagination [are] confined to special persons or domains, restricted to special moments or places. In general, imagination and fantasy [are] antidotes to the finitudes of social experience” (Appadurai, 53). Akbar would certainly be considered a special person, and Sikr, a special domain; however his of selves” is more infinite than finite. Thus, Akbar's intense concentration and even reliance on fantasies in combination with his infatuation with the foreign storyteller suggests a further symbolism of Akbar's character as one of modernity. [...]
[...] Above all his claims to power and plurality, Akbar derives his most supreme authority from the dismissal of realism, of logic, and reason; he believes “reason a mortal divinity, a god that die[s] (Rushdie, 78). His sole ability to both construct and deconstruct truths becomes his greatest form of control, and so he constructs his own world and identity in the realm of stories and magic realism, suggesting the finality of his will and even his own immortality; emperor ruled over everything. Time itself could be stretched and paused. There was all the time in the world.” (Rushdie, 153). [...]
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