Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children

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Salman Rushdie’s ‘Midnight’s Children’

1 Introduction

This paper will try to show how Salman Rushdie uses narrative technique, genre and the concept of history in a very new way in Midnight’s Children in order to place his story outside the euro-centric tradition of literature, narrative and history. These traditions, appearing in the colonial period, have constructed a notion of universalism in literature where the ‘classics’ of the western canon have set the order of the day (Ashcroft 91-92). Additionally, history has been written with Europe as the subject of all interpretations of history (be they Whig, Tory, Marxist, etc.), thus constructing a master narrative which Chakrabarty calls ‘the history of Europe’, where even the histories of the third world countries are written with Europe as subject (Chakrabarty 383). The theory of history presented in Midnight’s Children (elaborated on in section 4) attempts not to replace the centre in this traditional binary of centre and margin, but rather to deconstruct this binary in order to gain access to history and literature[1].

Salman Rushdie tries to break the binary by using a very different kind of narrative, a mixture of an oral narrative style with all the colloquialisms typical of that style, on the one hand, and a very formal style typical of written language on the other. In addition to this other ‘Englishes’ like Pidgin English are used. These elements serve to place the novel outside the Western tradition, even though it uses a language, English, and a format, the novel, which are central to the Western literary canon. I will analyse the style and genre of the novel to show how Rushdie accomplishes all this. Next I will try to show that the n...

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... and the Artifice of History’. The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. Ed. Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, Helen Tiffin. Great Britain: Routledge, 2001.

‘Excerpts from a Conversation with Salman Rushdie’. Imaginative Maps. 4 December 2002.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. ‘The Will to Power’. The Theory of Criticism. Ed. Raman Selden. USA: Pearson Education Inc., 1988.

Rushdie, Salman. ‘”Errata”: or Unreliable narration in Midnight's Children’, ‘Imaginary Homelands’, and ‘The Riddle of Midnight: India August 1987’. Imaginary Homelands. England: Penguin, 1991.

Rushdie, Salman. Midnight's Children. Great Britain: Arrow Books, 1995.

[1] For details see Ashcroft 135-136.

[2] The definition of Magic Realism is based on a seminar hand-out, a lecture and Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of literary Terms. USA: Harcourt, 1999.
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