Salman Rushdie and Indian Historiography: Writing the Nation by Nicole Weickgenannt Thiara

By Nicole Weickgenannt Thiara

Paying specific awareness to the illustration of girls and to gendered notions of the kingdom, this booklet examines for the 1st time the marked parallels among Rushdie's critique of the Nehruvian legacy and the main major fresh tendencies in Indian historiography, specifically the feminist and subalternist routine.

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When the scenes depicted are too horrible to contemplate, Saleem flees into the dream-like unreality of the Sundarbans jungle ‘which is so thick that history has hardly ever found a way in’ (MC 359). 24 The Pakistani episode in Saleem’s life – with its incestuous love for his sister, his predilection for the ancient prostitute Tai Bibi, his amnesiac sniffer man-dog existence and his ignominious involvement in the war – leave him cleansed of his Nehruvian elements. This makes room for Saleem’s growing resemblance with Indira Gandhi in his mission of nation-saving and his belief in conspiracy theories.

The novel, in contrast, frustrates the reader’s expectations and prejudices. One would not expect to meet a European in the slum, to say nothing of a British beggar of undefined sex. Together with Dyer and Methwold, s/he is the only representative of the British in Midnight’s Children, and is explicitly listed among the ‘parents of midnight’ (MC 108–9). Hayden White argues that historiography inevitably has to use emplotment to structure its narratives in order to make sense of a series of ‘facts’: The effect of such encodations is to familiarize the unfamiliar; and in general this is the way of historiography, whose ‘data’ are always immediately strange, not to say exotic, simply by their virtue of their distance from us in time and their origin in a way of life different from our own.

M. – no less than one thousand and one children were born within the frontiers of the infant sovereign state of India. ], endowed with features, talents or faculties which can only be described as miraculous. ] history, arriving at a point of high significance and promise, had chosen to sow, in that instant, the seeds of a future which would genuinely differ from anything the world had seen up to that time. (MC 195) By 1957, only 581 children had survived and their talents do not seem particularly promising in modern, scientific India.

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