Salman Rushdie

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What are the distinctive features  that make Salman Rushdie postcolonial writer?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There are many different ways to approach this question.  One major distinction puts Rushdie in the postcolonial setting is how he is so profound on the idea of national identity in a nation-less world.  The Colonial setting that defined identity on the basis of European nations and "the West" controlling other parts of the world is something that Rushdie truly challenges in his work.  Rushdie is more concerned with how the individual constructs identity as a product of a world where the Colonial powers are no longer evident, but their presence still lingers.  This is seen in works such as Midnight's Children and writings featured in Imaginary Homelands. Even his modern work such as Shalimar the Clown features this dynamic between a life that is after Colonialism, but still operates with part of one foot in it.  I would also say that Rushdie's own experience with "nation" is something that makes his writing so intense on the nature of postcolonialism.  Born in India at Partition, living in Pakistan, and then England, only to find himself unable to live anywhere because of the Fatwa helped to bring out the idea in his writing and thought that individuals are of a world that holds both Colonial and Postcolonial tendencies.  In this setting, we, as human beings, step across lines that used to be demarcate identity so thoroughly, but now are simply new frontiers to be crossed.  This becomes one of the central points in Rushdie's collection of essays, Step Across this Line.

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poonamvalera | Student
Midnight's Children has tried to shake the foundations of some power structures , which is the main aim of any postmodern work. Rushdie has mixed fantasy with facts in right proportion to picturise Post-Independent India. Children born during the night of Indian independence are called "Midnight's Children." They suffer from all the ailments of Independent India. They are made unproductive like the country. Declaration of Emergency by Indira Gandhi is compared to the labour pangs of Parvati, a witch. All the important historical events like The Jalianwala Bagh Massacre, Bangladesh War, and The Emergency are mixed with magical elements like Aziz's itching nose saving him from the bullets of English soldiers on the Jallianwala Bagh ground. Rushdie aptly uses terms like 'chutnification of history' and 'pickles of history' to explain his treatment of history. There is 'discontinuity' in narration. But we see 'permutation' in places where Saleem brings all the women of his life in an order to explain Parvati, the witch, about his marriage. Saleem lives a 'fragmented' life. He is split into 'fragments' by his grandfather's rationality, grandmother's credulity, father's numbness, mother's fragmented life, and sister's lovelessness. He has no constant identity. He gets lost in a jostling crowd of 'I's. Rushdie mixes all genres. He includes film trailors, gossips, advertisements, posters, and third rate similes, and jokes to break the distinction between high and low literature. This is called 'hybridity.' Rushdie seems to give his own comments through Saleem. Salman merges into Saleem in some places, and it is clear in the text. This is called 'short circuit'. Rushdie's 'Midnight's Children' shares many of the post modern techniques, and can be called a novel with post- modern features. Permalink | Was this review helpful to you?
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