(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Grimus belongs to a long tradition of intellectual fantasies that combine dreamlike, imaginative journeys with serious social or philosophical criticism. The novels use of a combined first-and third-person narration in which Flapping Eagle is both the protagonist and the principal narrative voice poses one of the works main questions: Does reality exist beyond the conceptual constructions of a single minds imagination? The failure of Ignatius Gribb’s rationalist philosophy and the final dissolution of Calf Island suggest that imagination and reality are one and the same and that those human beings who ignore the powers of imagination and myth do so at their own peril.

Such fictional techniques and thematic concerns place the novel in a line that reaches back as far as François Rabelais Gargantua and Pantagruel (1532-1564) and extends through Jonathan Swift’s Gullivers Travels (1726), Lewis Carroll’s Alices Adventures in Wonderland (1865), and L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). In more recent terms, Grimus also bears some relation to the contemporary school of fiction known as Magical Realism, in which fantasy and reality continually intersect in ways that criticize or comment on history and politics.

Coming early in Rushdie’s career, Grimus demonstrates some of the narrative and imaginative techniques developed in the novelists subsequent fiction,...

(The entire section is 448 words.)