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Magic realism in ‘The Enchantress of Florence’

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  1. Introduction
  2. Defining 'magic realism'
  3. Defining 'modernity'
  4. Example of 'The emperor Akbar'
  5. The irony of the characters of Akbar and the princess
  6. Conclusion

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. [...]


[...] Where the princess's story begins is ambiguous, but she gains a sense of actual presence in the novel and moves about on the arms of her lovers between India, Turkey, Persia, Florence; between reality and fantasy, life and death, history and the present. Her identity is her personal struggle; hindered only by her gender, she whispers her fears to her lover Argalia, are already who you are you have nothing to prove. Whereas I am just trying to become what I have it in me to (Rushdie, 281). [...]

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