Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Rushdie, Postmodernism & Postcolonialism :: Essays Papers

Rushdie, Postmodernism & Postcolonialism Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, published in 1980, was perhaps the seminal text in conceiving opinions as to interplay of post-modern and post-colonial theory. The title of the novel refers to the birth of Saleem Sinai, the novel’s principal narrator, who is born at midnight August 15th 1947, the precise date of Indian independence. From this remarkable coincidence we are immediately drawn to the conclusion that the novel’s concerns are of the new India, and how someone born into this new state of the ‘Midnight’s child’, if you will, interacts with this post-colonial state. To characterise the novel as one merely concerned with post-colonial India, and its various machinations, is however a reductive practice. While the novel does at various times deal with what it is to be Indian, both pre and post 1947, it is a much more layered and interesting piece of work. Midnight’s Children’s popularity is such that it was to be vote d 25th in a poll conducted by the Guardian, listing the 100 best books of the last century, and was also to receive the Booker Prize in 1981 and the coveted ‘Booker of Bookers’ in 1993. Why Midnight’s Children is much more than of interest to the reader interested in post-colonialism, is possibly due to its strong elements of magic realism, a literary device that goes hand in hand with postmodernism. Perhaps the most notable exponent of magic realism in literature is the Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whose One Hundred Years of Solitude written in 1967 came to be seen as the standard bearer for the genre. Marquez was an undoubted influence on Rushdie’s work and in Midnight’s Children in particular, which was to adopt many of the surrealist ‘flights of fancy’ which characterise One Hundred Years of Solitude. The term was first used in a wider post-colonialist context in an essay by Jacques Stephen Alexis, of the ‘Magical Realism of the Haitians’ (Alexis 1956), although the term itself had been in circulation since Franz Roh the German art critic coined it in 1925. Yet the term only became popularised when it was employed to characterise the work of South American writers such as Marquez. More recently the term has come to refer to the inclusion of any mythic material from local written or oral culture used in contemporary narrative. The material is often used to examine the assumptions of Western narrative, which is usually categorised by its rationality and strict linearity.

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