& occasionally about other things, too...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee - 2

(Continued from the post above)

In an interesting analysis of Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children from a postcolonial perspective, Cathy C. Miller (Salman Rushdie’s ‘Stereoscopic Vision:’ Postcolonial Environments in Midnight’s Children) says, 

“In his literature, Rushdie grapples with this issue (of authentic representation of national culture) and resists being pigeonholed to one particular culture.  He refers to authenticity as “the respectable child of old-fashioned exoticism”  which  “demands that sources, forms, style, language and symbol all derive from a supposedly homogeneous and unbroken tradition” (Imaginary  67). 

“Rushdie insists that his purpose is not to create “authentic” Indian literature but validates his position as a postcolonial writer by stressing the valuable qualities of having two countries to draw from.  Growing up in a country that was greatly influenced by British rule, attending British schools, and migrating to England in his midtwenties inevitably westernized Rushdie’s perspective.  But instead of viewing this “double identity” as a negative spiral into the clutches of Western colonialism, Rushdie uses it to his benefit as a form of decolonization – quite possibly he is able to see the pitfalls of Fanon’s national consciousness and culture. 

“This double perspective gives him “stereoscopic vision” which allows him to simultaneously look at two societies from both the inside and the outside.  Rushdie states that postcolonial Indian writers who have migrated away from India “are capable of writing from a kind of double perspective: because they, we, are at one and the same time insiders and outsiders in this society.  This stereoscopic vision is perhaps what we can offer in place of ‘whole sight’” (Imaginary 19).  Because of their multiple backgrounds and experiences, writers in Rushdie’s position are able to recreate reality in a way that is directly related to their postcolonial identities. These plural identities provide them with various angles to analyze and [re]create reality within their fictions.”

Edward Said’s analysis of Kipling’s Kim (in  ‘The Pleasures of Imperialism’ Culture and Imperialism) is masterly.

Ruydard Kipling
“The conflict between Kim’s colonial service and loyalty to his Indian companions is unresolved not because Kipling could not face it, but because for Kipling there was no conflict; one purpose of the novel is in fact to show the absence of conflict once Kim is cured of his doubts, the lama of his longing for the River, and India of a few upstairs and foreign agents. That there might have been a conflict had Kipling considered India as unhappily subservient to imperialism, we can have no doubt, but he did not; for him it was India’s best destiny to be ruled by England. By an equal and opposite reductiveness, if one reads Kipling not simply as an “imperialist minstrel” (which he was not) but as someone who read Frantz Fanon, met Gandhi, absorbed their lessons, and remained stubbornly unconvinced by them, one seriously distorts his context, which he refines, elaborates, and illuminates. It is crucial to remember that there were no appreciable deterrents to the imperialists world-view Kipling held, any more than there were alternatives to imperialism for Conrad, however much he recognized its evils. Kipling was therefore untroubled by the notion of an independent India, although it is true to say that his fiction (as opposed to discursive prose) incur ironies and problems of the kind encountered in Austen or Verdi and, we shall soon see, in Camus. My point is this contrapuntal reading is to emphasize and highlight the disjunctions, not to overlook or play them down.”

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