Presentation on theme: "MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN BY SALMAN RUSHDIE Autofiction, Fictional Autobiography and Autobiography as History."— Presentation transcript:
MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN BY SALMAN RUSHDIE Autofiction, Fictional Autobiography and Autobiography as History
An Early Life History! Rushdie was born on 19 June 1947, Bombay, India, into a Muslim family of Kashmiri descent. Educated at Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai, Rugby School, and King's College, University of Cambridge, where he studied history. Rushdie has been married four times. Awarded with -Arts Council Writers‘ Award. -Author of the Year (Germany). -Booker of Bookers for his best novel “Midnight’s Children”. -Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France). -Booker Prize for Fiction. & many more.
Awards and Recognition Midnight's Children is a 1981 book by Salman Rushdie that deals with India's transition from British colonialism to independence and the partition of British India. It is considered an example of post colonial literature and magical realism. The story is told by its chief protagonist, Saleem Sinai, and is set in the context of actual historical events as with historical fiction. Midnight's Children won both the Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in It was awarded the "Booker of Bookers" Prize and the best all-time prize winners in 1993 and 2008 to celebrate the Booker Prize 25th and 40th anniversary. In 2003, the novel was listed on the BBC's survey "The Big Read". It was also added to the list of Great Books of the 20th Century, published by Penguin Books.
What is it about? Saleem Sinai, the narrator of Midnight's Children, opens the novel by explaining that he was born on midnight, August 15, 1947, at the exact moment India gained its independence. Now nearing his thirty-first birthday, Saleem believes that his body is beginning to crack and fall apart. Fearing that his death is imminent, he grows anxious to tell his life story. Saleem's story begins in Kashmir, thirty-two years before his birth, in Saleem's grandfather, a doctor named Aadam Aziz, treats Naseem, the woman who becomes Saleem's grandmother. Amina- Saleem's mother moves to Bombay with her new husband. They buy a new house and Sallem is born. Meanwhile, a midwife at the nursing home, Mary Pereira, is preoccupied with thoughts of her radical socialist lover, Joseph D'Costa. Wanting to make him proud, she switches the nametags of the two newborn babies. Driven by a sense of guilt afterward, she becomes an ayah, or nanny, to Saleem.
Saleem begins to hear the thoughts of other children born during the first hour of independence. Saleem discovers that Shiva, the boy with whom he was switched at birth, was born with a pair of enormous, powerful knees and a gift for combat. Amina takes Saleem and the "Brass Monkey", his sister, to Pakistan, where she moves in with Emerald. Saleem's perpetually congested nose undergoes a medical operation. As a result, he loses his telepathic powers but, in return, gains an incredible sense of smell, with which he can detect emotions Saleem's entire family moves to Pakistan after India's military loss to China. During the India Pakistan war, there were air raids and in one of them Saleem gets hit in the head by his grandfather’s silver spittoon, which erases his memory entirely. He finds himself conscripted into military service, as his keen sense of smell makes him an excellent tracker. While in the army, Saleem helps quell the independence movement in Bangladesh.
He flees into the jungle with three of his fellow soldiers.After leaving the jungle, Saleem finds Parvati-the-witch, one of midnight's children, who reminds him of his name and helps him escape back to India. He lives with her in the magician's ghetto and later decides to marry her. Meanwhile, Indira Gandhi, the prime minister of India, begins a sterilization campaign. Shortly after the birth of Parvati’s son, the government destroys the magician’s ghetto. Parvati dies while Shiva captures Saleem and brings him to a forced sterilization camp. There, Saleem divulges the names of the other midnight’s children. One by one, the midnight’s children are rounded up and sterilized, effectively destroying the powers that so threaten the prime minister. Later, however, Indira Gandhi loses the first election she holds. Saleem decides to marry Padma, whom he meets on his visit to Bombay, his steadfast lover and listener, on his thirty-first birthday, which falls on the thirty-first anniversary of India's independence. Saleem prophesies that he will die on that day,disintegrating into millions of specks of dust.
Autofiction Commonalities between Saleem and Salman o Kashmiri ancestors o Born in Bombay in 1947 o Muslim family o Second mother, Mary o Father's name, Ahmed o Sister's character, nicknamed Brass Monkey o Went to live in Pakistan o Saleem and Salman are derived from Arabic word "salima" meaning "to be safe" Fantastical autofiction : a narrative where “the writer is at the centre of the text (like in an autobiography), but they transfigure their existence and identity into an unreal story, regardless of the constraints of verisimilitude”
Autofiction There are 3 elements which play a part here: Salman Rushdie’s personal life, Salim’s representation in the fiction, and it’s intermingling with the post-colonial history of India, Pakistan and even Bangladesh. There is a constant melange of history with fiction, as Salim is present in the 1958 coup in Pakistan, 1972 war in Bangladesh, and even during the Emergency in India. Just as during the cleansing of the Jama Masjid slum, the termination of the magic ghetto along with the death of Parvati, shows the resemblance yet incorporates fictional elements.
Fictional Autobiography First person narration by Saleem Narrating his story to Padma, a mirror of the reader within the book. As with Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, this novel incorporates fact with fiction and gives a very compact and meaningful representation to it.
Literary devices - Symbols Recurrence of the same symbols throughout the book - leitmotif Perforated, blood-stained sheet o protector of identity o a symbol of conjugal love o a symbol of walking death o symbolic of blood-shed o symbolic of fragments "the ghostly essence of the perforated sheet, which doomed my mother to learn to love a man in segments, and which condemned me to see my own life -- its meaning, its structures -- in fragments also; so that by the time I understood it, it was far too late"
Literary devices - Symbols Snakes and ladders o "... for every ladder you climb, a snake is waiting just around the corner; and for every snake, a ladder will compensate." o "... no sooner had my mother discovered the ladder to victory represented by her racecourse luck than she was reminded that the gutters of the country were still teeming with snakes." o Snakes venom treats him "Snakes can lead to triumph, just as ladders can be descended." o Loses telepathic powers; gaines sense of smell
Literary devices Imagery "The colors are there the green and black her hair is green her teeth are black the Widow stands above high high as the sky the sky is black her skin is green children screaming walls are green blood is black and she reaches out and mmff and little balls the night is black but children torn in half I look and see the Widow green but I am black the children run their screams are black her hand is green it touches my face is green her nails are black she smiles and I am green my blood is black she is hunting searching searching skin is green love is black I want out out but children grabbed and mmff and little balls and the Widow looks for me she grabs but no mmff no little balls the sky is black but fear is green." Alliteration "See him tear at them : rip! rap! rop!"
Literary devices Allegory and metaphors o Narration of history through Saleem's life Independence and birth Imminent death of character and death of hope Fragmentation of body and state Midnight's Children and unity in nation o Optimism "disease" Leaking o Past leaking into present o Line between personal and political life is extremely porous
Literary devices Indianized language o English-Hindi Hybrids ‘chutnification’ ‘dupatta-less’ o Phrases turning into words ‘godknowswhatelse’ ‘overandover’ ‘whatdoyoumeanhowcanyousaythat’ 'whatitsname' Onomatopoeia o 'yaaaakh-thoooo!'
Literary devices Magic realism o Midnight's Children have magical powers. Protagonist initially has telepathic powers. o Accurate prediction of Saleem's future Foreshadowing o Saleem, the narrator, mentions future events and then retracts his statement claiming that he must not rush. o Saleem's future is foretold before his birth
Foreshadowing "A son, Sahiba, who will never be older than his motherland - neither older nor younger. There will be two heads - but you shall see only one - there will be knees and a nose, a nose and knees. Newspaper praises him, two mothers raise him! Bicyclists love him - but, crowds will shove him! Sisters will weep; cobra will creep. Washing will hide him - voices will guide him! Friends mutilate him - blood will betray him! Spittoons will brain him - doctors will drain him - jungle will claim him - wizards reclaim him! Soldiers will try him - tyrants will fry him... He will have sons without having sons! He will be old before he is old! And he will die... before he is dead."
Premonitions in the book Married to "Padma - Parvati Laxmi" o Saleem married to Parvati in the book o Padma falls in love with Saleem in the book Political pressure in real life o Political prisoner in book
Autobiography as history Character's fate intertwined with that of India's o Twins born at Midnight on 15th August 1947 History told through the eyes of a common man o not a narration of a ruler or emperor or general
Various historical aspects :- Pakistan's coup : "... not only did I overthrow a government - I also consigned a president to exile." Bangladesh war Indian Emergency period Sanjay Gandhi's cleansing of Jama Masjid Slums and family planning steps Depicted as political prisoner of Indira Gandhi; portrays her lust for power and her insecurities
Playing with History The political upheaval and constant threat of violence that marked the first three decades of independence forms the backdrop for Midnight’s Children, Rushdie’s most celebrated novel. The violence that accompanied independence was a prelude to the multiple wars, coups, and governmental abuses that plagued the area in the years that followed.
Magic of Rushdie History: A term that relates to past events as well as the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about these events. Memory also plays an important role in construction of nation’s history. Rushdie knows this well and acknowledges this “Memory has its own special kind. It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimizes, glorifies, and mollifies also, but in the end it creates its own reality, its heterogeneous but usually coherent version of events; and no same human being ever trusts someone else’s version more than his own”……From his interview given to BBC Memory thus, fulfills the purpose to relate private lives to public events and to explore the limits of individuality in a culturally diverse India.
Personal history and the historical record Rushdie successfully draws a parallel between the private destiny of Saleem and public destiny of India. Saleem sometimes thinks that : “From the moment of my conception, it seems, I have been public property” Rushdie creates a new history based on historical facts – he sets his main character against “a real historical backdrop”. He views history through the eyes of his characters. Perhaps a nation's history is nothing more—but also nothing less—than the shared personal history of its individual citizens.
National Allegory For the purpose of making the novel a national allegory, Rushdie had provided Saleem and the other midnight’s children with a magical faculty: “What made the events noteworthy … was the nature of those children every one of whom was, through some freak of biology or perhaps owing to some prenatural power of the moment or just conceivably by sheer coincidence…, endowed with features, talents and faculties which can only be described as miraculous” At the stroke of midnight only two children were born, Saleem and Shiva and their fates were exchanged.
Neocolonialism India’s history collides again with Saleem’s personal life. Love-affair of Evelyn and Saleem can be seen as America’s generosity in providing India large aid in 50’s. Saleem’s friends give him company on that day i.e. his birthday, due to Evie’s ban on festivities. This is an example of neocolonialism, wherein despite of attaining much sought after independence, Indians have a special liking for the whites and their products. The way the citizens of Methwold’s Estate follow Evie’s instructions is a substantiation of this fact.
Manufacture of History Creation of grandeur achievements in war by both the sides- Pakistan and India. "... Voice of Pakistan announced destruction of more aircrafts than India had ever possessed; in eight days, All India Radio massacred the Pakistan Army down to, and considerably beyond, the last man.“ Saleem’s comment: "Nothing was real; nothing was certain."
References Jennifer Santos, Arizona State University, Historical Truth in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children: A Question of Perspective O.P. Dwivedi, Nation and History: A Postcolonial Study of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (1981), Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences ( 2009) Vol 1, No 2, Wikipedia (for a lot of things)