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Discuss Midnight's Children as a landmark in the history of the Indian novel in English.

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afkarahmed | eNoter

Posted September 24, 2013 at 9:17 AM via iOS

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Discuss Midnight's Children as a landmark in the history of the Indian novel in English.

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 24, 2013 at 11:17 AM (Answer #1)

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Midnight's Children can be seen as a landmark in the history of the Indian novel in English for a couple of reasons.  The first reason would be that Rushdie composes one of the most significant works about Partition.  One of the darkest and saddest moments in the birth of two nations, Rushdie offers a complex and intricate view of Partition.  The invocation of Nehru's "tryst with destiny" speech is one of many ways in which Midnight's Children prompts a sense of reflection and discussion about the concept of modern India and Pakistan.  Being able to broach such a powerfully intense dialogue is one distinct reason why the novel is a landmark in the history of the Indian novel in English.  Few novels since, and even fewer before, are and were able to engage in such a discussion.

Another reason why the novel is a landmark in the history of the Indian novel in English is that Rushdie does not shy away from presenting fragmentation as intrinsic to the modern condition. There is little totality in the vision that Rushdie offers.  Saleem is a flawed narrator, and the vision of history that is offered is limited by subjectivity.  At the same time, Rushdie presents a complex world in which little is clear.  Midnight's Children is a part of the canon that displays the complex condition of modern nation building.  It is a landmark because it does not run away from the reality that modern nation building is far from absolute.  Contrary to simplistic narratives that seek to advocate a particular political agenda of control, Midnight's Childrenis an honest enough work to suggest that all sides in the nation building process might be limited to a great extent.  This is where the work would have to be seen as a landmark, as it established the contours and parameters of what was possible to expect from the Indian novel in English. 

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