There was a smell of burnt belongings in [Naipaul’s] books as well as the smell of burning icons. But the icons he burnt were mine, those of the colonised not of the coloniser. Them he preserved, mine he burnt for them.
Which imperial gestures must [a postcolonial writer] perform before he can delineate the relation of his language to the canon of fiction written in English? […] [Naipaul’s] fascination […] with the readily available colonial myth may be his only means to arrive at an idiom in which to address his perception of himself as a postcolonial cliché.
If Naipaul’s position may be characterized as one of eternal exile, Rushdie’s may be defined as one of permanent migrancy. [The latter, unlike the former,] emanates an exuberance that dissipates the pain of multiple dislocation and translates migrancy into a positive and prolific idiom. Instead of disempowering the self, dislocation opens up an abundance of alternative locations, allowing the individual to own several homes by first becoming homeless. Notwithstanding these differences, there is one feature shared by both paradigms: a deterritorialized consciousness freed from such collectivities as race, class, gender, or nation, an unattached imagination that conveniently can become cosmopolitan and subaltern, alternately or simultaneously.
A ‘Mammoth-Trunked’10 Raleigh
I. Many critics11 have commented on the major reliance placed by Rushdie’s text upon a ‘organicist’ conception of the ‘body politic’ in terms of a grotesque imaging of a system of correspondences between the body and biography of Saleem, Midnight’s Children’s protagonist and narrator, and the geographical space12 and political history of the subcontinent. Indeed, it has been argued that the literalization of the ‘life history’ of the nation through a ‘synecdochical identification’13 with the embodied postcolonial citizen-subject works to reclaim the ‘imperial topos’ of the erstwhile colony by inserting ‘the colonized body’, heretofore constructed as an ‘allochronic other’,14 into ‘a syntax of history’.15 For Aruna Srivastava,16 the discursive articulation of the postcolonial body and history into an exorbitant, non-linear, encyclopaedic, and highly digressive17—or, in Rushdie’s own words, ‘multitudinous’18—fictional form represents a conscious attempt on the author’s part to wrench the ‘time’ of the ‘nation’s narration’19 out of the ‘monologic’ epic20 of Britain’s Civilizing Mission and and its linear-time frame of historical progress. Further, as Neil ten Kortenaar, Jean Kane and others have noted,21 Rushdie is also acutely aware of the fact that the nationalist reprise of the (Hobbesian) paradigm of ‘the Commonwealth’ often operates ‘to reassemble the fragments of the nation’,22 the multitudes of subaltern bodies, under the aspect of a spurious coherence and totality. Thus, ten Kortenaar considers that while Rushdie’s text aims to discredit the process of political myth-making that commonly accompanies the project of nation-building—through the satirical treatment23 accorded to the epic themes of ‘[single] origins, peak times, ancestors, founders of families’24 and the like—it nevertheless retains ‘a sceptical, provisional faith’ in these same myths it openly subverts.25
I have attempted here to present a short compendium of criticism on the novel before engaging with its text not simply because of the vast critical literature that has accumulated around what came to be considered as a paradigmatic postcolonial text, but because, by almost general consent, the novel has been read as a ‘radically unstable’ postmodern ‘historiographic metafiction’:26 what critics perceive as its self-reflexiveness and a ‘vertiginous’ reversal of positions as regards its frame narratives/narrators and ‘truth’-value of its ‘fictions’ seems to have given risen to an equally bewildering range of critical responses with reference to the intended purpose of Rushdie’s ludic discourse.27 Even ten Kortenaar’s close, sustained reading of the novel, in which he insists that its textual strategies, rather than foregrounding radical ‘epistemological uncertainty’ about historiographic and narrative representation, valorize instead the ‘self-conscious’ deployment of fictional techniques of rhetorical persuasion— the story’s moral being simply that ‘all we have are fictions, but some fictions deserve our assent and others do not’—,28 ultimately affirms the impossibility of an originary ‘self-validating narrative frame’29 that would arrest the radical instability of [all] textual meaning, and concludes by glossing a passage in the novel that refers to Brahma’s birth30 as being a potential synecdoche for the novel’s (fourfold) metafictional schema—comprising the protagonist-narrator, ‘metafictional commentator’, ‘implied author’, and ‘Rushdie’ the critic and reviser of his own text—placed en abîme in the textual universe of Hindu mythology : ‘Vishnu contemplates Brahma sitting on the lotus, while Brahma contemplates the supine body of Vishnu whence rose his own world, “each believing he was everything”’.31 In what follows, I shall focus on certain episodes of the novel to highlight the themes referred to above and also address Rushdie’s treatment of the concepts of colonial mimicry and hybridity, as well as his vision of secular India and critique of the post-colonial comprador bourgeoisie.
II. The five separate references32 made in the novel to John Everett Millais’s painting, “The Boyhood of Raleigh”, form a minor fugal figure which has been construed33 as a meditation on the ambivalent structure of identification with the object of (post)colonial desire and as an assay by spefically narrative means of the truth-value of ‘catachrestic translations’ of the imperial original. Having devoted a ‘chutney-jar’ to the ‘annunciation’ of Amina Sinai (or, perhaps, more accurately, to the conception in Delhi of his ‘changeling brother’),34 the narrator, for instance, muses on the promise of his individual destiny: ‘What’s real and what’s true aren’t necessarily the same […] True was a thing concealed just over the horizon towards which the fisherman’s finger pointed in the picture on my [bedroom] wall’ (MC, p.103). The narrative treatment of Saleem’s childhood memory of the Millais print—which depicts an old sailor narrating the ‘deeds of empire’ to two ‘Elizabethan lads’, the young Raleigh and a second boy, possibly Raleigh’s half-brother—may thus be read35 as an allegory of imperial ‘literacy’, the transmission of tradition through the genre of the imperial Bildungsroman, as authorial comment concerning the plane of identification on which the (‘native’) bourgeois (child-)spectator is invited to cathect the imperial authorial gaze, and also as an Escher-like figural pattern structuring the novel’s own narrative performance: ‘The painting does what the narrator himself obsessively does: it finds in every moment echoes of what came before and omens of what is to come. The viewer […] is, as it were, looking in a [‘time-distancing’] mirror’.36 The three constructions put upon this recurring intertextual motif, whilst all equally plausible, are not equivalent in their implications.
Thus, were we to follow Homi Bhabha’s theorization of ‘colonial mimicry’, 37 the appearance in the text of the Raleigh print would serve to enact the ‘double and split’ hybrid time of (fetishistic) identification when the ‘founding object’ of imperial discourse is voided of its ‘self-presence’, is fatuously disassembled as an ‘eccentric objet trouvé’—and, in the present of the narrative, is remembered ‘in broken English’: ««Look, how chweet!» [exclaims] Lila Sabarmati», the boy-Saleem’s neighbour, seeing him dressed up as Raleigh, ‘in frilly collar and button-down tunic’, on the occasion of his birthday (MC, pp.165-66).38 To express this notion in a less rarefied critical idiom, Rushdie’s handling in such affectionately irreverent terms of the motif of the colonial ‘precursor’ (the dual storyteller-figure39 inspiring imperial youths to the pursuit of El Dorado) can thus be seen as an instance of discursive ‘insurrection’ directed against the canon of imperial adventure and orchestrated through a poetics of localised interrogations and iterations of the monotypic genera of Empire’s culture from within a ‘native’ space of sociocultural significations so as to produce a ‘nine-fingered, horn-templed, monk’s-tonsured, stain-faced, Ganesh-nosed’40 mutant strain of Sir Walter Raleigh.
III. This account, however, does not exhaust the text’s attention to the dynamics of colonial subject-formation precisely because the charade of (post)colonial education is here acted out by members of a Western-educated intellectual and business elite—‘Macaulay’s minutemen’41—who have succeeded to the ‘Methwold estate’: Methwold, Saleem’s ‘real’ (biological) father42 and the novel’s representative of the British civilizing mission,43 makes the transfer conditional upon a return to the status quo ante: ‘that the houses be bought complete with every last thing in them, their entire contents be retained by the new owners [presumably in perpetuum]; and that the actual transfer should not take place [until ‘Independence Day’]’ (MC, p.126). To the extent that this scene reflects the fact that following independence the Nehru Congress opted to maintain unaltered the bureaucratic structure of colonial governance, thus not only ensuring administrative continuity, but making capital out of a structure already vested with almost absolute executive power with a view to protecting those segments of the dominant classes with entrenched ‘country-wide’ interests,44 part of Rushdie’s intention here, as many critics have argued, would be to thematize neocolonial collaboration and dependency by pointing to the perpetuation of colonialist structures of power and domination45 and the consequent ‘failure’ of the chamcha class46 ‘to speak for the nation’.47 According to Partha Chatterjee:
The independent state visualized by the Indian big bourgeoisie was not based on a revolutionary transformation of the colonial economy. It was a state which would carry over almost wholesale the framework of colonial government; the changes it would bring about would be in a reformist manner. [It is crucial to understand that] Indian big capital was looking towards changing the political terms on which [their] collaboration [with British monopoly capital] would be made. It was now seeking to collaborate under the aegis of an independent state operating in the world economy.48
Indeed, Rushdie’s text abounds in examples of the tendency to dismiss the Nehruvian rhetoric of ‘socialist’ reconstruction through state planning and its appeal to the national ideal of ‘unity-in-diversity’—allegorized by Saleem’s vision49 for the ‘Midnight Children’s Conference’—as a smokescreen for the postcolonialist bourgeois project to ‘recast’ colonial domination ‘in domestic form’.50 For instance, in a passage clearly meant to be read as an assessment of the political economy of Indian development planning, Saleem/Rushdie announces with the detachment of a news programme anchor: ‘although, [during the second five-year plan], the number of landless and unemployed masses actually increased [and] illiteracy survived unscathed, […] there were substantial gains. […] Power capacity did double; large numbers of bicycles, machine tools, diesel engines […] were produced each year’ (MC, p.285).51 Similarly, Saleem’s ‘telepathic’ forays into the minds of his fellow citizens give occasion for a review of ‘the state of the nation’ delivered as a newsreel or a cinema-verité film clip on the subject of electoral fraud and vote-bank politics, the exploitation of peasants and food shortages, or for the ‘revelation’ that adjustments to Congress’s five-year plans are dictated by astrological prognostications (MC, pp.240–41).
Whether sardonically inclined or ironically detached, the narrator here fictionalizes the politico-economic calculus that drives and manages the long drawn-out process of capitalist accumulation in the subcontinent, whose ultimate object is to effect the ‘expropriation of primary producers’ and consequently to ensure the viability of an ‘enclaved’ domestic market for industrial manufactures. 52 As Partha Chatterjee notes, notwithstanding that ‘the avowed objective of the Indian state in the 1950s’ was to promote industrialization without disturbing the ‘local agrarian structures of power’, the underlying ‘logic of accumulation’ could not but have impacted on the “traditional” sector: ‘agrarian property became far more “commoditized”, the forms of extraction of agricultural surplus now combined a variety of “economic” and “extra-economic” power, and a steady erosion of the viability of small-peasant agriculture tended to increase the numbers of landless cultivators’.53 Indeed, the notion that a tainted and corrupt wealth is inextricably linked to a tainted (postcolonial) nation is one of the chief lessons driven home by the novel. For Brennan, greed and self-aggrandizement, combined with hypocrisy and cynicism, are for the most part indicted in Midnight’s Children not as instances of individual moral failure, but rather as ‘components in the drive’ of a backward bourgeoisie ‘to consolidate its power’ and validate its nationalist credentials. 54 ‘All [unproductive] wealth in the novel’, ten Kortenaar also notes, is tainted ‘with corruption and is intrinsically unstable’. 55 Both he and Brennan elaborate on what can be described as the tragicomic pattern of a postcolonial nationalist peripeteia without issue, or the motif of a danse macabre nonchalantly performed by clown figures56 dressed up as military men, civil servants, religious mystics, financiers, real estate and stock market speculators. The narrator, for instance, ‘reveals’ behind the official version of the Indo-Pakistani ‘war’ over the ‘disputed territory’ of the Rann of Kutch an avuncular script acted out by General Zulfikar, who having built ‘his fortune on the miseries’ of Hindu refugees in 1947 was the mastermind behind a cross-border smuggling outfit, and by Cousin Zafar, who was driven to patri(a)cide by ‘incontinence’ (MC, pp.465–68). 57 Dr Narlikar, who sees himself as the successor to the imperial mission of ‘land reclamation’ and dreams of ‘four-legged conquerors triumphing over the sea’, is pushed by ‘language marchers’ into the ocean, where, still clinging like a mollusc to his ‘symbolic tetrapod’, he drowns (MC, pp.183–84, 244–45); 58 while Hanif Aziz, the only socially conscious script-writer ‘in the Bombay film industry, who espouses the cause of truth, and plays rummy’ obsessively, ‘determined never to lay down a hand unless it was all the hearts, and nothing but the hearts’, jumps to his death off the roof of his apartment block (MC, pp.339, 342, 376).59 The handling of the traumatic events surrounding partition follows the conventions of the film noir/horror genre with a subplot featuring a ‘protection racket’, a British transvestite, and a couple of plagiarisms from Kipling (MC, pp.107, 119),60 and, in the episode that corresponds to the events leading to the secession of Bangladesh, Saleem recounts how he comes across a field with crops ‘leaking bone-marrow into the soil’, where he is reunited with the body-parts of his ‘not-quite-dead’ childhood playmates who had fought on the Indian side, and how Ayoooba Baluch, Saleem’s comrade-in-arms, shoots down a Bangladeshi peasant who kneels, with raised arms, ‘as though to pray, his face plunging below the water-level’ in the paddyfield—where ‘Time lies dead’ (MC, pp.501, 518–21).61
Moreover, the text is shot through with biting satire directed at the systematic manipulation of public opinion through populist, ‘social-democratic’ phrase-mongering and the invocation of the rhetoric of ‘sacred origins’ to incite patriotic fervour (e.g., MC, pp.464, 471-73, 606), while also registering its own ambivalence about authorial participation in the dissemination of mass-produced ‘communicative fictions’.62 The last point requires close attention, particularly since this element of moral and political ambiguity can be traced back to Rushdie’s metropolitan location and cosmopolitan outlook. According to Brennan, the narrator’s quasi-‘solipsistic’ desire to step outside of and, in this manner, incorporate ‘the whole of [Indian] reality’ (MC, p.97), must necessarily induce an uneasy feeling of ‘discursive guilt’ or authorial complicity finding expression in a self-negating antinomical discourse which continually splits into opposing pairs:63 ‘Communism’ vs ‘Businessism’,64 ‘centrifugal divisibility’ vs total incorporation,65 hybridity vs ‘purity’,66 the ‘gullibility’ or irrationality67 of the ‘masses’ vs the ‘disease of optimism’68 or corruption of the chamcha ‘classes’, Saleem vs Shiva, etc.—with each term of the opposition being subject to ironic reversals and/or mutual contaminations.69 This entails an inability to imagine a positive ideological alternative70 to either the ‘nightmarish’ vision of postcolonial history widely propagated in the metropolitan West71 or the reassuring platitudes about the (supposedly Nehruvian) ideal of a pluralist, secular, liberal-bourgeois democracy.72 Indeed, as ten Kortenaar argues, the notion of the ‘hybrid nation’ that underwrites the liberal humanist ideology73 of this novel is conceived of as the sum total of a series of ‘representative minorities’, each of which is stereotypically constructed through an aggregative process on the basis of a uniformly ascribed regional, linguistic or cultural ‘essence’: in sort, an aggregate of ‘potential synecdoches’ for distinct minority groups.74 Thus, the ‘personalization of the Indian state’ as ‘[Saleem’s] hybrid self’75—a celebration of the ‘collective hybridization of the many colonialisms and cultures’ of the subcontinent76— may be juxtaposed with the ‘old regionalist loyalties’ that threaten the integrity of the ‘body politic’ (MC, p.341). In this interpretation, Rushdie’s ‘postcolonial secularism’ would, however, be caught in the numerous pitfalls of contemporary ‘multicultural pluralisms’, which, while granting recognition to marginalized identities, nonetheless refuse to acknowledge the relations of domination that structure their wider context.77 Thus, for instance, ten Kortenaar draws on recent historiography to show that Rushdie’s account of the ‘language riots’ in Bombay is clearly tendentious, since rather than representing ‘atavistic longings’ (MC, p.341), the ‘movement’ for the ‘linguistic reorganization of state boundaries’ in the fifties and sixties gave expression to popular demands for greater democratic participation and a renegotiation of the republic’s federal structure.78 In this respect, I am inclined to agree with the argument of certain critics, such as Richard Cronin and Timothy Brennan, that Rushdie’s ‘vague liberal prejudices’ and metropolitan location make it impossible for him to arrive at a reliable assessment of the political situation of post-independence India. As Brennan observes, in Rushdie’s works, ‘we only get a sense of protest, but no affirmation, except in the most abstractly ‘human’ sense’.79
IV. I have tried so far to explore the way in which Rushdie’s text is situated within the problematic of (post)colonial mimicry/hybridity and indicate the narrative and political complexities and specular transactions which result from the author’s divided loyalties owing to his borderline, ‘insider-outsider position’80. By drawing on the work of Neil ten Kortenaar, Timothy Brennan, and others, I have attempted a ‘double’ reading of the hybrid figure of (Rushdie) the chamcha as an instance of resistance as well as of capitulation to neocolonial domination.
‘A World Too Full of Pain’81
V. I find it hard to dissociate, as many critics have done, the figure of ‘Naipaul’-the- ‘compère’-of-his-Enigma-of-Arrival, a mildly satirical take on the ‘Little-England’ comedy of manners, from ‘Naipaul’ the ‘reactionary curmudgeon’ and maledictive ‘oracle’ always at hand to pronounce on ‘Third-World’ societies’ perpetual state of ‘non-achievement’.82 It also appears that the ‘Enigma’s’ hysterical divagations into the ‘dark heart’ of its rural setting83 and obsessive revisions of its own peculiar kind of ‘colonial’ gun-barrel vision84 have given rise to a series of schizothymic critical responses: its narrative mode has, thus, been characterized by Rob Nixon as ‘inventing [an ‘anti-pastoral’] ‘postcolonial pastoral[e]’, whereby the narrator disarticulates a version of an ‘imaginary’ England, embalmed in the timelessness of ‘pastoral romance’, ‘while warming his hands over the embers of [this same] “real” England he inhabited in childhood fantasy’—an ‘England of the mind’ which has been inculcated in him by his ‘colonial education’.85 At the same time, critics such as Shirley Chew, Helen Tiffin, and Susheila Nasta consider that the novel’s narrator engages in a process of strategic displacement and reversal of imperialism’s ‘proprietary enclosure’86—the discursive evacuation and subsequent ‘capture’—of colonial ‘waste lands’, through a series of recursive ‘re-readings and re-translations of the [rural English] landscape and the literatures which produced it’ (see infra).87 Moreover, according to Susheila Nasta, the novel’s form instantiates a fundamental impulse pervading the ‘diasporic imaginary’: the ‘need’ to provide a sheltering structure for ‘a psychic and symbolic experience of “homelessness”’.88 In this reading, by ‘homing in on’ ‘the canonical [manor] house’ of English fiction, the novel succeds in opening up the possibility for the ‘possession of an imaginary dwelling space’—a formal ‘receptacle punctuated by arrivals and departures’—where a series of discursive transactions with the ‘monumentalized mythology’ of the ex-colonizer can occur.89
On the other hand, Sara Suleri focuses, rather whimsically, on the non-relation between [Naipaul] the ‘Trinidadian tenant’ and the landlord [‘Stephen Tennant, the lord of the Wilsford Manor’],90 and suggests that the author’s primary preoccupation is with the ‘construction of a narrative space’, wherein ‘Naipaul’s’ occulted self-relation as a racialized ‘body’ can be assigned ‘a physical location’ so as to register ‘outrage at colonialism’s’ adherence to an ‘epidermal schema’ of ‘racial classification’, and thereby ‘assert his own historicity’ as a socioculturally marked ‘body’.91 However, within the specular economy of the novel, this exacts a price: the degree of narratorial ‘visibility’ and [self-]actualization increases in inverse proportion to the landlord’s debility. Moreover, the narrator’s [‘Wordsworthy’] ‘self-presence’ seems to ‘gain in power each time he records’—not without a touch of Schadenfreude—‘an episode of imperial evacuation: […] the grounds running to decay, the successive deaths of English bodies that surround the author’.92 Finally, Selwyn R. Cudjoe and A. Sivanandan, who articulate a somewhat similar line of argument, consider that, in essence, the novel dramatizes the failure of Naipaul the man ‘to come to terms with the historical experience of racism’ and that the text records meticulously the process of his incorporation into the ‘morality’ and system of values of the ‘universal civilization’ of the West.93 For Cudjoe, it is Naipaul’s inability to resolve his feelings of ‘racial hostility toward black people’, as is revealed by the reiteration of certain long-held views already given expression in the writings referred to in the central section of the novel, that prevents him from ‘exposing the ‘self ’ he claims to have become in Wilitshire to the unblinding light of day, except under the guise of fiction [or ‘autofictography’]’.94
VI. I must confess here that, precisely because the narrative of The Enigma of Arrival is replete with direct or indirect references to previous writings of the author, over and above the consciously deployed strategies of ‘reconfiguring the literary territory’ of the ‘English canon’,95 I do not possess the expertise to enter into a sustained dialogue with this work’s political or ideological assumptions or generalize confidently about Naipaul’s stance towards postcoloniality (or, hybridity, postcolonial subjectivity, neocolonialism, etc.). In this respect, I have to depend on scholarly works, such as the monographs by Helen Hayward or Selwyn R. Cudjoe, which attempt to reconstitute the work’s scaffolding of self-referencing. I also feel that this type of dependence was less of a problem in the first part of this essay, since apart from the deliberate, even if ironic, foregrounding of the device of historical referencing (‘If you don’t believe me, check’ (MC, p.59)),96 there has been, in addition, a type of ‘symbiosis’ between Rushdie’s texts and certain versions of postcolonial theory,97 both of which elements render Rushdie’s text less opaque.
In my view, this is not the case with Naipaul’s text. Thus, for instance, I cannot bring myself to inscribe unreservedly under the rubric of ‘the imagination of anti-imperialism’98—or, similarly, as certain critics have done, to attribute to the author’s awareness of the ‘creative possibilities of [cultural] translation inherent in the [‘multiple anchorages’] of his Indo- Caribbean background’99—passages such as the one in which the narrator recalls how, upon his return to his native island, having completed the manuscript of The Loss of Eldorado (1969)100, he applied his technique of ‘selective perception’101 to the task of reconstituting— out of the ‘ruins’ of the [postcolonial] ‘present’—the ‘landscape of the aboriginal pre-Columbus island’ (EA, p.175). Apart from the signs of ‘human dereliction’,102 which he, nevertheless, diligently records, his ‘selective’ vision also excises the collective aspirations of ‘the Negroes, the people with the hair’, who were ‘threatening another false revolution’ and in whose ‘vision of history’ he could not share (EA, pp.175-76). As A. Sivanandan observes, ‘the place was no longer his’. In this respect, it is, indeed, tempting to invert the place from which the narrator’s judgment on the ‘Black Power revolt’ is pronounced, and ‘ventriloquize’ through ‘Naipaul’: the narrator felt ‘a wish to destroy a world judged too full of pain, to turn one’s back on it, rather than to improve it.’ [He left the island ‘for good’ to return to England] (EA, p.175).103 Here, I believe, Sara Suleri aptly captures the ambivalent tropology of the novel(ist)’s trajectory: ‘The central enigma concerns how many points of departure the narrative has to [occlude] in order to frame its idea of arrival’ in the metropolitan West.104
VIII. In this essay, I have examined how two paradigmatic postcolonial texts have attempted to express their relationship to the culture and heritage of colonialism and enter into dialogue ‘with the excessive novelty of [quite distinct] postcolonial histories’.105 Although it is almost impossible to generalize along the lines suggested in the essay title, nevertheless, I have attempted to indicate how these two narratives may be read through the lens of a number of basic concepts of postcolonial theory and criticism, while also drawing attention to their distinct historical context. I have also focused on the efficacy of specific strategies of appropriation and revision, as well as on the ambivalences, ambiguities, and occlusions concomitant with the process of ‘writing and rewriting the [post-colonial] self within the trauma of the colonial encounter’106 and its aftermath.
5. For discussion of this notion, see, e.g., Susheila Nasta, Home Truths: Fictions of the South Asian Diaspora in Britain (New York: Palgrave, 2002), p. 103¶2; cf. Vijay Mishra and Bob Hodge, ‘What is Post(- )colonialism?’, in Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory, ed. by Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman (Harlow: Pearson Education, 1994), pp. 276–90 (esp. pp.279–82).
6. Cf. Nicole Weickgenannt Thiara, Salman Rushdie and Indian Historiography: Writing the Nation into Being (New York: Palgrave, 2009), ch.1; David Smale, Salman Rushdie: Midnight’s Children/The Satanic Verses (New York: Palgrave, 2001), ch.3; Aruna Srivastava, ‘“The Empire Writes Back”: Language and History in “Shame” and “Midnight’s Children”’, Ariel, 20:4 (1989), 62–78 (pp. 66–72); the phrase quoted occurs in John J. Su, ‘Epic of Failure: Disappointment as Utopian Fantasy in “Midnight’s Children”’, Twentieth Century Literature, 47:4 (2001), 54–68 (p. 550).
7. Cf. Ranajit Guha, ‘On Some Aspects of the Historiography of India’, in Selected Subaltern Studies, ed. by Ranajit Guha and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 37–44 (p. 37¶1); the phrase ‘national autobiography’ occurs in Partha Chatterjee, ‘Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse’, in The Partha Chatterjee Omnibus (Part I), (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 1–176 (p. 7).
8. See, e.g., W. John Walker, ‘Unsettling the sign: V.S. Naipaul’s “The Enigma of Arrival”’, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 32:2 (1997), 67–84; Shirley Chew, ‘(Post) colonial Translations in V.S. Naipaul’s “The Enigma of Arrival”’, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 37:1&2 (1998), 118–134; and Suleri, ch.7.
9. See, e.g., Robert J.C. Young, Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture, and Race (London: Routledge, 1995), p. 23 (on Homi Bhabha); for a critique, see Benita Parry, Postcolonial Studies: A Materialist Critique (London: Routledge, 2004), ch.4.
11. See, generally, Smale, ch.3; Stephen Morton, Salman Rushdie: Fictions of Postcolonial Modernity (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2008), p. 35; Neil ten Kortenaar, Self, Nation, Text in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (London: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004), ch.3; and further references in the text.
12. For instance, Emil Zagallo, the schoolmaster, uses young Saleem’s face to provide an ‘object lesson’ in the ‘human geography’ of India: ‘In the face of thees ugly ape you don’t see the whole map of India? […] These stains are Pakistan! […]’, etc. (MC, p.321). — The episode is discussed in Ten Kortenaar, Self, Nation, Text, p. 84.
14. The phrase is Ella Shohat’s, qtd in Arif Dirlik, ‘The Postcolonial Aura: Third World Criticism in the Age of Global Capitalism’, Critical Inquiry, 20:2 (1994), 328–56 (p. 344); for the notion of ‘allochronism’ (‘denial of coevalness’), see J. Fabian, Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), p. 31, et seq.
22. The phrase occurs in Timothy Brennan, Salman Rushdie and the Third World: Myths of the Nation (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989), pp. 23, 37 (in reference to B.Harlow’s notion of ‘resistance literature’).
26. M.D. Fletcher, ‘Introduction: The Politics of Salman Rushdie’s Fiction’, in Reading Rushdie: Perspectives on the Fiction of Salmon Rushdie, ed. by M.D. Fletcher (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1994), pp. 1–22 (p. 5–6); also Ten Kortenaar, Self, Nation, Text, p. 40.—Thus, for instance, according to Linda Hutcheon, ‘[postmodern fiction] takes the form of self-conscious, self-contradictory, self-undermining statement’ (qtd in D.C.R.A. Goonetilleke, Salman Rushdie (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998), p. 29).
30. Rushdie’s passage reads as follows: ‘Padma, the Lotus calyx, which grew out of Vishnu’s navel, and from which Brahma himself was born; Padma the Source, the mother of Time!’ (MC, p.270).—As is evident from ten Kortenaar’s explication, the reference to Padma as ‘mother of Time’ is disingenuous.
31. See, esp., Ten Kortenaar, Self, Nation, Text, ch.15 (the passage on Brahma’s self-reflection occurs on p.243 (quoting Roberto Calasso)).—Ten Kortenaar also notes: ‘The container is [thereby] itself contained [and] synecdoche [always] returns to haunt metonymy’ (ibid., pp179080, 255).
34. I refer to the fifth chapter of the novel titled ‘Public Announcement’. For Saleem’s ‘chutnification of history’, see MC, pp.642-43; (the expression the ‘important annunciation’ is mentioned on p. 93; the characterization ‘changeling brother’ on p.392).
36. Ibid., p. 181 (the phrase ‘time-distancing’ is Johannes Fabian’s (Fabian, p. 32)).—The metaphor of ‘the silver screen’, another mirror, is not far away: ‘Suppose yourself in a large cinema, sitting at first in the back row, and gradually moving up […] until your nose is almost pressed against the screen. Gradually the stars’ faces dissolve into dancing grain; the illusion dissolves or rather, it becomes clear that the illusion itself is reality’ (MC, p.229). For Michale Gorra and D.C.R.A. Goonetilleke such authorial interventions aim for a ‘Brechtian alienation effect’: ‘[the playwright/ postmodernist novelist] alienates “the incidents portrayed […] from the spectator […] in order to make [him/her] adopt an attitude of inquiry and criticism” (Michael Edward Gorra, After Empire : Scott, Naipaul, Rushdie (London: University of Chicago Press, 1997), p. 122, quoting B.Brecht; cf. ibid. p.146; Goonetilleke, p. 50 (with particular reference to Rushdie’s Shame), and Cundy, p. 38; similarly, Timothy Brennan considers this passage to be a comment on nationalist myth-making through the massmedia as ‘apparatuses of ideological control’ (Brennan, p. 97–98)).
37. This passage is based on Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994), ch.4 (the phrases ‘founding object/objet trouvé’, occur on p.92); also, ibid. p.77 (discussion on the splitting of the subject, the structure of the fetish and that of ‘narcissistic identification’), p.144 (‘double and split’); for further discussion see Parry, pp. 24-26 (the phrase ‘broken English’, ibid., on p.25).
39. I refer here both to “Walter Raleigh”, author of the The Discovery of Guiana, and to the “Devon sailor” in the Millais print (identified as a certain Martin Cockram, ‘who who had been to Brazil and might very well have talked about that wondrous land to the boy Ralegh’ (Neil ten Kortenaar, ‘Postcolonial Ekphrasis: Salman Rushdie Gives the Finger Back to the Empire’, Contemporary Literature, 38:2 (1997), 232–259 (p. 244), quoting Adamson’s and Folland’s biography of Raleigh, The Shepherd of the Ocean))
42. As ten Kortenaar notes: ‘Saleem’s alternative genealogy, from Methwold through Vanita, an apparent debunking of the standard narrative of Indian history, is but another invention. When Mary Pereira confesses the baby switch [(MC, p.389), she] could not have known about Vanita’s adultery with the Englishman Methwold. The account of the baby switch […] is itself another fiction. […] The radical stance that sees Indian history as a rape still depends on a metaphor.’ (Ten Kortenaar, Self, Nation, Text, p. 40 (my emphasis)).
—The revelation of Vanita’s adultery occurs in MC p.136; the switching of babies on p.157.
—Cf. ‘Colloquially, a chamcha is a person who sucks up to a powerful people, a yes-man, a sycophant. The British Empire would not have lasted a week without such collaborators among its colonized peoples. You could say the Raj grew fat by being spoon-fed […] [T]he spoon-feeding ended, or at least ceased to be sufficiently nourishing, and the British left. But the effects of the Empire linger on’ (Salman Rushdie qtd in Srinivas Aravamudan, ‘“Being God’s Postman Is No Fun, Yaar”: Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses’, Diacritics, 19:2 (1989), 3–20 (p. 14)).
49. MC, p.355 (‘this people-together […] can be that third way’); cf. Josna E. Rege, ‘Victim into Protagonist? “Midnight’s Children” and the Post-Rushdie National Narratives of the Eighties’, in Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children”: A Book of Readings, ed. by Meenakshi Mukherjee (Delhi: Pencraft International, 1999), pp. 182–211 (pp. 189, 198–99).
52. Partha Chatterjee, ‘The Nation and its Fragments’, in The Partha Chatterjee Omnibus (Part II), (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 1–272 (pp. 208 et seq) also, Chatterjee, ‘A Possible In dia’, pp. 54–55 (esp. his remark on ‘institutionalized waste’).
56. Cf. Rukmini Bhaya Nair, ‘History as Gossip in “Midnight’s Children”’, in Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children”: A Book of Readings, ed. by Meenakshi Mukherjee (Delhi: Pencraft International, 1999), pp. 49–68 (p. 63).
60. Weickgenannt Thiara, pp.24–25; Brennan, pp.95–96; for the detail borrowed from Kipling’s autobiography, see, Zohreh T. Sullivan, Narratives of Empire: The Fictions of Rudyard Kipling (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 38.
62. For instance, ‘All sorts of things happen[ed] during [Indira Gandhi’s] Emergency: trains run on time, black-money hoarders [were] frightened into paying taxes, even the weather [was] brought to heel, and bumper harvests [were] reaped; there is, I repeat, a white part as well as a black’ (MC, p.606); see also ibid., pp.374–75 where Saleem acknowledges his involvement in the making of ‘Lord Khusro’; cf. Mujeebuddin Syed, “‘Midnight’s Children” and Its Indian Con-Texts’, in Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children”: A Book of Readings, ed. by Meenakshi Mukherjee (Delhi: Pencraft International, 1999), pp. 149–64 (p. 158); Brennan, pp.89,91–93,95–98.
63. Ibid., pp.89, 92,98. Cf. my discussion supra on the Vishnu-Brahma myth, and notes 28, 31, 36; also, Ten Kortenaar, Self, Nation, Text, p. 155 and passim [the phrase ‘discursive guilt’ occurs in Suleri, p. 23].
69. For instance, Brennan notes that ‘[while the] rivalry [of Saleem and Shiva] represents a conflict between belligerence and diplomacy, thuggery and persuasion, material interest and ‘humanism’, treason and loyalty, [nevertheless], it is essential to Rushdie’s point that neither Saleem nor Shiva be associated permanently with one or the other side of the dichotomies listed. Saleem […] is a traitor too’ (Brennan, p. 112). Indeed, it is Saleem who reveals the names of the Midnight’s Children at the Widows’s Hostel and thus contributes to their ‘annihilation’ (MC, pp.605- 06, 593¶3).
70. See discussion infra; on Rushdie’s dubious post- 9/11 politics, see Sabina Sawhney and Simona Sawhney, ‘Introduction: Reading Rushdie after September 11, 2001’, Twentieth-Century Literature, 47:4 (2001), 431–43; for a discussion of Booker’s reading of the novel as an instance of the cold war politics of anticommunism, see Patricia Colm Hogan, ‘“Midnight’s Children”: Kashmir and the Politics of Identity’, Twentieth-Century Literature, 2 (2001), 510–44 (p. 511).
74. Ten Kortenaar, Self, Nation, Text, ch.10 [pp.146 ¶1 (‘series’); 147¶2 (‘Bombay as hybrid nation’); 148¶1 (‘synecdoches, stereotypes’); 149¶4 (‘aggregation’); 152¶¶1-1 (‘essentialism, minorities’)].
78. Ten Kortenaar, Self, Nation, Text, p. 153.—Cf. ‘The states’ reorganization committee which was set up in 1953 [to examine the question of ‘linguistic provinces’] […] rejected the demand for the [division] of Bombay into Marathi and Gujarati-speaking states, due to the fact that Congress’s Gujarati supporters dominated Bombay business while the Marathispeakers were in a majority’ (Sugata Bose and Ayesha Jalal, Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy (London: Routledge, 1998; repr. 2001), pp.208–09; also, ibid. pp.195 -96 (‘legacy of partition and linguistic provinces’); and compare Rushdie’s account (MC, pp.261-62).
79. Richard Cronin, ‘The Indian English Novel: “Kim” and “Midnight’s Children”’, in Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children”: A Book of Readings, ed. by Meenakshi Mukherjee (Delhi: Pencraft International, 1999), pp. 134–48 (p. 145); Brennan, p.166; also, ibid., p.99¶¶2-4.
82. Geoffrey Wheatcroft, ‘A Terrifying Honesty’, Cultural Critique, 289 (2002), n.p. (‘reactionary curmudgeon’); Suleri, p.150 (‘dark heart of the comic novel’); for Naipaul’s criticisms of third-world ‘halfmade’ societies, see., e.g., Selwyn R. Cudjoe, V.S. Naipaul: A Materialist Reading (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1988) p.134; for ‘non-achievement’ with reference to ‘Mr Biswas’, see Helen Hayward, The Enigma of V.S. Naipaul: Sources and Contexts (New York: Palgrave, 2002), p.25 and passim.
83. I do not intend to address this issue; for relevant passages, see, however, EA, pp.108, 187, 375 (‘dream of exploding head’), p.172 (narrator’s phantasy of himself as a ‘corpse’); and, Cudjoe, Ch 8.
85. Rob Nixon, London Calling: V.S. Naipaul, Postcolonial Mandarin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp 130,162; Cf. Chew, p. 130(‘anti-pastoral’; ‘pastoral romance’); Nasta, pp.97–98(on Naipaul’s colonial education and his essay ‘Jasmine’), 123 (on Seamus Heaney’s ‘England of the mind’); M. Griffith, ‘Great English Houses/New Homes in England? Memory and Identity in Kazuo Ishiguro’s “The Remains of the Day” and V.S. Naipaul’s “The Enigma of Arrival” ’, SPAN , 36 (1993), n.p., ¶5.
—For the theme of the dissociation between the ‘world’ of ‘his Caribbean childhood’ and the ‘word’ of the ‘English book’, see, e.g., EA, p.142 (‘I was used to living in a world where the signs were without meaning, or without the meaning intended by their makers’), p.91 (‘lines of poetry, matching the idea of the cows on the condensed-milk label’) (cf. Bhabha, The Location of Culture Ch6 (on the ‘English Book’); and my discussion supra on the ‘colonial education’ of Saleem).
89. Ibid., pp.94–95, 123¶3; the phrase ‘punctuated by arrivals […]’ occurs ibid., p.216; the usage ‘homing in on’ on p. 175 and passim; Walker, pp.70, 81 (also discussing B.Parry’s critique of H.Bhabha’s work).
90. Paul Theroux, Sir Vidia’s Shadow: A Friendship Across Five Continents (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1998), p. 175; and, cf Elisabetta Tarantino, ‘The House That Jack Did Not Build: Textual Strategies in VS. Naipaul’s “The Enigma Of Arrival”’, Ariel, 29:4 (1998), 169–84 (p. 173), on this theme of the ‘missed encounter’.
For the narrator’s racial ‘self-consciousness’ compounded by racism, see, e.g., EA, pp.137–37 (the episode when he feels ‘ashamed’ because he has to share a cabin with a ‘Negro’ on the S.S.Columbia), pp.117–118 (encounter with a ‘Negro, not an educated man’, in the airport shed in Puerto Rico); cf. Sivanandan, p. 40; Cudjoe, pp.218–19.
—See, e.g., EA,308–09 (landlord’s ‘accidia’),320–21 (Alan’s suicide, landlord’s deteriorated condition).— Theroux describes S.Tennant as follows: ‘[He] had been out of his mind for years. “I am the Prince of Youssoupoff of England!”’, etc. (Theroux, p. 175).
Thus, Cudjoe bases his argument, in part, on the episode of the ‘tropicalization’ of the Wiltshire landscape, which coincided with the narrator’s writing a ‘story’ about Africa (In a Free State, (1971); EA, pp. 187–88, 224(‘vegetable growth’ referred to as ‘the bush’); Cudjoe, p.219); apparently, for Naipaul ‘the bush’ is a Conradian symbol for the ‘inexplicable violence’ and decay he associates with the ‘Third-World’ (Suman Gupta, V.S. Naipaul (Plymouth: Northcote House, 1999), ch5, esp.p.48; also, Cudjoe, p.191; Hayward, p.55; cf. ‘Drawing a mental moat around the metro metropole, he has declared everything inside, Civilization; everything outside, Bush’, Nixon, p. 42).
97. Harish Trivedi, ‘Salman the Funtoosh: Magic Bilingualism in “Midnight’s Children”’, in Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children”: A Book of Readings, ed. by Meenakshi Mukherjee (Delhi: Pencraft International, 1999), pp. 69–94 (p. 87) (on H.Bhabha).
103. This passage is based on Sivanandan, pp.41–42; see, also, Hayward, p. 146, and Chris Searle, ‘Naipaulacity: A Form of Cultural Imperialism’, Race & Class, 26:2 (1984), 45–62 (p. 48), for the ‘rebellion of1970’ in Trinidad and the writing of Guerrillas (1975); for ‘ventriloquism’ as a Naipaulian technique, see Hayward, p. 186.
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