Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rushdie, International writer

‘‘East, West’’ was an interesting illustration of Rusdie’ s essay ‘‘Imaginary Homelands.’’ When I read this collection of short stories, I realized that he is really an ‘‘international writer’’ as he calls himself. He is one of those Indian writers in England who ‘‘have access to a second tradition, quite apart from their racial history.’’ He ‘‘claims as his ancestors the Huguenots, the Irish, the Jews’’ as well as Sheakespeare in one of his short-stories. But at the same time, he remains faithful to his Indian roots by dealing with themes related to India.

All the short-stories in the ''East part'' take place in India and explore traditional subjects. Interestingly, the author does not depict a romantic and exotic India, rather, he develops some serious and realistic issues. For instance, in the first short-story, ‘‘Good Advice Is Rarer Than Rubies,’’ he talks about the Indian diaspora that has to use illegal means sometimes to travel to England. He contrats Rehanna’s innocence to the reality of the system. When the old man proposes her a passport to go to England in order to facilitate her travel to England, she refuses, and qualifies his action as a ‘‘crime.’’ However, at the end, she realizes that she has been a fool not to accept this passport,because she failed at the Consulate.
Moreover, Rushdie mentions some traditional Indian customs such as arranged engagements that affect very young girls. For instance, when Miss Rehanna was nine years old, her parents made an arrangement with Mustafa Dar, a man much older than her, so that he could take care of her.
We also find a kind of mysticsm and magical power attributed to things, which is common when Indian authors talk about India. We examined this when we read Chandra’s ‘‘Love and Longing in Bombay.’’ The short-story, the ‘‘Prophet Hair’’ illustrates this fact. A single strand of human hair in a silver pendant is at the heart of the story and causes strange events, as if a malediction were attached to it. It seems that it influences Hashim, the father, who has become more radical since he found the strand of hair. Moreover, it leads to the death of the entire family.
Finally, the structure of the short stories in the ‘‘East’’ part (particularly the short-story ‘ ‘‘The Prophet’s Hair’’) illustrate Indian orature. As a matter of fact, the short-story is a serie of embedded stories. Storytelling is crucial because it vehicles knowledge. As Huma tells her story, we learn at the same time as Sheik Sín the reason why she resorts to him.

As we were saying previously, Rushdie also shows that he does not have a '' ghetto mentality.’’ He broadens the content of his literature, and this can be seen in the second part ‘‘West.’’ In this part, he adopts what looks like a post-modernist approach of literature: he refers to Hamlet, a classic of English literature, but he parodies it. Instead of reading a tragedy, we read a comic play. Moreover, he uses metafiction in the sense that he makes the reader aware of the fact that he is reading. For example, in the short-story ‘‘Yorick,’’ he uses punctuation as well as different typographies: ‘‘So up Amelathus gets, and tip-toes down corridors thus (if each dot represent the conjunction of one toe-tip with the floor):
…../……/……./……/…../, &c.&c.’’(Rushdie, 74).
These literary devices differs from Indian orature, but their use make authors such as Rusdie rich and interesting to study.

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