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Autobiography as History : Midnight's Children By Salman Rushdie.

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Presentation on theme: "Autobiography as History : Midnight's Children By Salman Rushdie."— Presentation transcript:

1 Autobiography as History : Midnight's Children By Salman Rushdie

2 The Author Born in Bombay in June, 1947 Studied in Cathedral School, Bombay Left for England in 1961 Completed schooling at Rugby Degree in History from King's College, Cambridge Worked with a multimedia theatre group and an advertising company

3 The Book The tale of Saleem Sinai – an individual born at the exact instant of India's independence The tale of post-colonial India Connection between the two – allegorical and literal. e

4 The Themes Magical Realism ”characterized by an equal acceptance of the ordinary and the extraordinary” One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez – a classic of this Genre Autofiction – Fictional (?) Autobiography Life narrative presented as metaphor for a nation's journey Trivializing/Personalizing History

5 Salman and Saleem Saleem Sinai born on 15 th August 1947; Salman Rushdie born on 19 th June, 1947 “It was a family joke that the British left only two months after my arrival” Very similar parent profiles Like Saleem, Rushdie's maternal grandfather was officially Muslim, but was an agnostic

6 Salman and Saleem When Salman was a child, the Rushdie family lived in a colonialist estate called Windsor Villa – which probably served as a model for Methwold's Estate Like Saleem, Salman had a nanny called Mary. The young Salman Rushdie also believed he was the center of the universe. “Being the only son and eldest child in a middle-class Indian family does make you tend to think that the world revolved around you”

7 Salman and Saleem One major difference – Rushdie was sent to England at the age of 14 and has lived in England ever since Saleem Sinai lived all his life in the sub- continent. Saleem's Indianness is a function of Rushdie's Britishness Previous political novels Waiting for the Mahatma and Kanthapura were focussed on the village/town than the nation

8 Autobiography as History Saleem's personal story inextricably linked to the story of India Various narrative devices used to establish this connection Timing and Circumstances of births used as powerful metaphors Traits of individual matched with the nation Various historical events linked with Saleem's friends and family

9 Birth Pangs "I had been mysteriously handcuffed to history, my destinies indissolubly chained to those of my country" But that's not all! 1000 other children born at the same instant – represent India's post-independence generation and the power it had

10 (More) Birth Pangs Saleem's child born at midnight of the day when Emergency was imposed in India Parvati's 13-day labour => the 13 day of political turmoil preceding Emergency Nightmarish parallels between the travails of India and Parvati

11 ”come on Parvati, push, push, push and while Parvati pushed in the ghetto, J. P. Narayan and Morarji Desai.... were forcing Mrs. Gandhi to push.... the Prime Minister was giving birth to a child of her own.... suspension of civil rights, and censorship-of-the-press, and armoured-units- on-special-alert, and arrest-of-subversive- elements.”

12 The Individual..and the Collective Only individuals in typical Historical texts – Kings and Emperors. What about the common man? Attempt to present history through the autobiography of a comman man

13 ”I have watched the mountains being born ; I have seen Emperors die... I saw that Isa, that Christ, when he came to Kashmir. Smile, smile, it is your history I am keeping in my head.” Tai is accorded the central place in the narrative.

14 History Comes Home Rushdie shows history's momentous – often violent – events as having trivial causes linked to his family and friends. Language riots in Bombay Emergency imposed by the Widow Murder of Homi Catrack by the husband of Lila Sabarmati (remember the Nanavati case?) Theft of the Prophet's Hair

15 History Comes Home Family members and friends are closely linked to historical/political figures Salim's uncle Zulfikar is a Pakistani General who helps Ayub Khan seize power Salim's mother first married to Shaikh Abdullah's right hand man

16 The Magic in Reality Fantastical occurrences included in the real world and presented as normal events The powers of Salim and other midnight's children Narlikar's luminescent ashes and Ahmed's fading skin The view of history centered around Salim and his family

17 The Magic In Reality ”I was born in the city of Bombay...once upon a time.” Is the presence of 'magical' events a metaphor for the role of religion in the Indian society? Is it present to pander to the West's view of India as a country of tantriks and yogis?

18 Points to Ponder The troubles of Salim and Midnight Children symbolize the troubles of post-independence India Rushdie blames the system. But what did the children, with their special powers and abilities do to change/overcome the system? Does this inaction symbolizes our lethargy to carve our own destiny?

19 Thank You Questions?

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