Salman Rushdie is known for his books: Midnight’s Children (winner of the Booker prize) and Satanic Verses which is banned in many countries because it blasphemes Islam.
The story begins with India attaining independence on 15th August 1945. Salim Sinai the chief protagonist comes out of his mother’s womb exactly at 12 AM when radios were proclaiming: India has made a tryst with destiny.
The story is written using the technique of Magic realism.
Salim Sinai is a special child gifted with psychic abilities. Apart from him there are various others who have the gift of clairvoyance.
I would like to proceed my analysis using: existential philosophy, psychoanalysis, postmodernism and Marxism.
View Point from Existentialism
Salim Sinai is a fictional self trying to project history and culture from a hyped individualism. The fictional self is glorification of Sartre’s being for itself. The story has abrupt time shifts which don’t connect with each other. The present in the novel is his relationship with Padma his wife. He is fond of belittling his wife by calling her the Goddess of dung. The past is a narrative about Indian attaining independence. Words become cultural monuments for shaping the narrator’s world. Reading the novel—one is forced to experience a blunt romanticism. Born in a rich aristocratic family, life is rather comfortable for Sinai. From an existential point of view it is hard to give poetic license about the narrator’s tryst with extra sensory perception. The self of the writer is skewed with myriad of thoughts.
We find instances in the story where the protagonist suffers from the chronic aliment of the Oedipus complex. Padma his wife becomes a mother figure. History becomes a masculine camera, sporting the nuances of reality within a surreal lens. The character of the narrator is one of self contained narcissism. Does Rushdie want to escape the feeling of an average Joe? Looking at the story from an archetypal point of view we find that the actor of the story is a Scaramouch. Relationships in the novel are marked by tense irony. The motif a clown tries to synchronize history with fable in a witch’s cauldron. Interesting is the portrayal of Adam Aziz, the grandfather of Sinai who is a doctor who has come from Germany and who has roaring practice in Kashmir. He has totally imbibed the culture of the West. His marriage to Salim’s grandmother is so comic. Rushdie is a beast with vitriolic humor. There is a tendency to utter disparaging remarks about various characters. Is clairvoyance a voice of hope or chain of frustration? These are questions that can be gleaned from psychoanalysis.
Looking at the novel from a Marxian perspective: one has to accept that the writing of the novelist is a bourgeoisie stunt, an aristocratic gimmick. The harsh reality of a newly emerged India is rather a crutch which could have deserved more attention. The settings of the novel are aristocratic and there is little mention of the proletariat. There is TAI the boat man. TAI is placed in fiction of the exotic.
The flight of cultural imagery is shrouded in a mismatch of cultural signifiers. Reading the history of independence in the novel, one has to deconstruct the misrepresentation of History. The narrative is shallow and meanders with contrasting meanings. Aristocracy as a bourgeoisie narcissism has to be deconstructed with cultural perspective.