Salman Rushdie: My Notes

Notes I’ve written on Salman Rushdie

This document contains links to some of the more substantial posts on Rushdie that I’ve written on the Net. Most of them are political in nature though some (especially those posted to SASIALIT) hopefully contain a germ of valuable Rushdie criticism.

Salman Rushdie’s problems, Bal Thackeray this time

Path: cmcl2!cmcl2.nyu.edu!grewals From: grewals@acf2.nyu.edu (Subir Grewal) Newsgroups: soc.culture.india,alt.censorship,soc.culture.indian.marathi Subject: Salman Rushdie's problems, Bal Thackeray this time. Date: 9 Sep 1995 04:55:02 GMT Organization: New York University Lines: 45 Message-ID: <42r6n6$deb@cmcl2.NYU.EDU> NNTP-Posting-Host: acf2.nyu.edu Keywords: Bombay X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL2] Xref: cmcl2 soc.culture.india:1899 alt.censorship:64851 soc.culture.indian.marathi:8358

I’m not sure whether this has been discussed here, couldn’t find an article about it.

It seems that Salman Rushdie has run into further problems with his new book “The moor’s last sigh”. The book is said to be the sequel to Midnight’s Children (brilliant), as such it deals with India after the emergency. And when writing of Bombay in this era who could ignore BAL Thackeray and the Shiv Sena. Rushdie has apparently written a couple of chapters that form a caricature of the SS and BT. Anticipating another book-burning spree, the Indian publisher of the book (Rupa & co.) did not distribute the book in Bombay. So there are no copies of this book available in the city in which the narrative is set, a recent Times of India article states that the book has now been “withdrawn from circulation” but fails to clarify whether Rupa has stopped distribution in the country as a whole.

Another ToI article contained an interview with Bal Thackeray. BT derided Rushdie for not standing up to the Ayatollah and (with ref. to The Moor’s last sigh) for writing about a culture he knew very little about. Considering that Rushdie was born and brought up in Bombay this seems a rather surprising statement to make. BT further claimed that he could present a much better caricature of Rushdie anyday, and (if I remember correctly) called him a coward. Mr. Thackeray says he will talk about the book once he has read the relevent sections, he also said he’s in no hurry to do that. A lot of people are waiting with baited breath to see what he will say. The book has received wide critical acclaim in India and abroad. Rushdie says he was not happy about the sort of publicity the book is receiving in Bombay. There have been no incidents of violence yet.

On a seperate note, Meenatai Thackeray passed away as a result of a heart attack. Mr & Mrs. Thackeray were returning from their bungalow in Khandala (I think it’s in Khandala) when she suffered a heart attack near Panvel. This happened around 1 am on the 6th of September. Mrs. Thackeray was taken to a hospital nearby but was pronounced dead on arrival. Large parts of Bombay remained closed on the 6th of September.

-- Subir Grewal grewals@acf2.nyu.edu
Washington Square News on the WWWeb http://www.nyu.edu/pages/wsn/
------------------------Standard disclaimer applies--------------------------
I never fail to convince an audience that the best thing they could do was to go away.

Salman Rushdie’s new book comes out

Path: cmcl2!cmcl2.nyu.edu!grewals From: grewals@acf2.nyu.edu (Subir Grewal) Newsgroups: alt.religion.islam,soc.culture.pakistan,soc.culture.iranian,soc.culture.egyptian,soc.culture.arabic,talk.religion.misc,soc.culture.maghreb,soc.culture.bangladesh,soc.culture.indian,alt.culture.saudi Subject: Re: Salman Rushdie's new book comes out Followup-To: alt.religion.islam,soc.culture.pakistan,soc.culture.iranian,soc.culture.egyptian,soc.culture.indian,alt.culture.saudi Date: 10 Sep 1995 05:30:05 GMT Organization: New York University Lines: 50 Message-ID: <42tt4t$iq1@cmcl2.NYU.EDU> References: <42lmtp$t6l@mirv.unsw.edu.au> <42nvrf$t19@newsbf02.news.aol.com> <42qdje$ph4@tin.monsanto.com> <42sflj$50u@mozo.cc.purdue.edu> <42t2k4$qdj@hearst.cac.psu.edu> <42tbnr$7i7@newsflash.concordia.ca> NNTP-Posting-Host: acf2.nyu.edu X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL2] Xref: cmcl2 alt.religion.islam:16271 soc.culture.pakistan:105754 soc.culture.iranian:81440 soc.culture.egyptian:4514 soc.culture.arabic:48328 talk.religion.misc:220935 soc.culture.maghreb:8840 soc.culture.bangladesh:35744 soc.culture.indian:273914 alt.culture.saudi:1197

Follow-ups trimmed.

Ilyess Bdira (ilyess@ece.concordia.ca) wrote:

: Not so, a fan is not a thinking individual by definition. : “fan” is short for fanatic, as in sports fan, B-movie fan, Bruce lee fan, : Karl Marx fan, Salman Rushdie fan, etc… : got the picture?

: The way I see it the Rushdie fiasco is analoguous to the following situation: : Person A slanders Person B, person B threatens him, and bystanders are split : into two groups: fans of A and fans of B. Both are wrong.

Actually person A revives an old historical question that may appear from some perspectives to be a derogatory opinion of histoical figure C, person B who has assumed the mantle of “keeper of figure c’s tradition” then threatens person A with bodily harm and refuses to compromise after various apologies by A. Person B has not read allegedly blashphemous work, nor has he/she considered the context or A’s tendency to play with history evident in earlier writing. The difference is that one has expressed an opinion or articulated an imaginative scenario, and the other threatens violence. There is a world of difference between these two acts.

This has actually become a conflict between traditions, one that holds free speech dear and has done very well out of sticking to that principle; and another that has slightly less liberal traditions and has done quite well out of those too or expects to do well with them after Quyamat. The fans you refer to are actually people who have different principles, and like most of us they find it difficult to escape from those that have been thrust upon them. Not so for Rushdie apparently.

: Freedom of expression is one thing, but to become a fan of some low-calibre : fiction writer just because he happens to slander a religion you don’t care : about and is threatened as a result is not really a thinking process.

Take that back, take that back 🙂 Wonder how much of Rushdie’s work you’ve read?

PS. Rushdie page at http://www.nyu.edu/pages/wsn/subir/rushdie.html

Take a look.

-- Subir Grewal grewals@acf2.nyu.edu Washington Square News on the WWWeb http://www.nyu.edu/pages/wsn/ ------------------------Standard disclaimer applies-------------------------- I never fail to convince an audience that the best thing they could do was to go away.

Salman Rushdie’s problems, Bal Thackeray this time

From: grewals@acf2.nyu.edu (Subir Grewal)
Newsgroups: soc.culture.indian
Subject: Re: Salman Rushdie's problems, Bal Thackeray this time.
Date: 10 Sep 1995 22:12:20 GMT
Organization: New York University
Lines: 59
Message-ID: <42vns4$kuo@cmcl2.NYU.EDU>
References: <42r6n6$deb@cmcl2.NYU.EDU>,<42rrou$omj@ixnews7.ix.netcom.com> <42v40t$30n@risky.ecs.umass.edu>
NNTP-Posting-Host: acf2.nyu.edu
X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL2]

venimadh@ecs.umass.edu wrote: : In Article <42rrou$omj@ixnews7.ix.netcom.com> : niharika@ix.netcom.com (Murthy Tadepalli) writes: : > : Well, there is a spoof on the Ramayan called “Ramayan Retold” : by Aubrey Menen. It too is banned in India. So its not true : that only books critical of Islam get banned. And Hindus : r certainly not the paragons of tolerance and peace as u seem to : believe.

There’s also the book on Kashmir by the British author. The point I was trying to make was not that the Shiv Sena opposed the content of the book or that it was “banned” (my post did not use the term ban), but rather the equally frightening scenario that the publisher was fearful of releasing the book. This reflects on two things:

1) The inability of the Central government of India to protect freedom of speech, coupled with it’s record it’s easy to see how our rights can be snatched from under our feet by politicians claiming to be “protecting” us from riots. I was particularly stunned by the statement of a judge in one of the ToI articles that “peace” was a higher “social value” than freedom of speech and so regretably it would seem justifiable to ban the book altogether. If this is the opinion our judges hold then how can we blame our politicians. Obviously the rule of law has come to naught, with all sort of exceptions being made by calling on “society’s interest”, “social justice” and similar myths. Thankfully both Nani Palkhivala and Ram Jethmalani were absolutely against any action on the part of Indian/Maharashtrian authorities that would restrict distribution of this book.

2) There is something deeply wrong when our citizens cannot trust the government and law-enforcement officials to protect their property and lives. The last place such a threat should be coming from is a political party, but the Shiv Sena is not any political party, nor is India any country. In a country that claims Gandhi as its father violence is too often a solution for people to get what they want. That fear runs so deep is telling as well. As is the realization that India has lost its moral fibre since it is willing to back down in front of any fanatic’s threat of violence.

This was not meant to be turned into a debate on the relative tolerance levels of Hindus and Muslims or these cultures. It is my firm belief that there is only one generalization, and that is that all other generilzations are wrong. There is too much violence in the world already over dead “sons of God” and “prophets”, it’s sad that we’re now elevating to the status of divinity someone who doesn’t even have the respectability of the dead. Frankly we don’t need Gods like this.

-- Subir Grewal grewals@acf2.nyu.edu
Washington Square News on the WWWeb http://www.nyu.edu/pages/wsn/
------------------------Standard disclaimer applies--------------------------
"By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote. In fact, it is as difficult to appropriate the thoughts of others as it is to invent. (R. Emerson)"
-- Quoted from a fortune cookie program (whose author claims, "Actually, stealing IS easier.") [to which I reply, "You think it's easy for me to misconstrue all these misquotations?!?"]

Salman Rushdie’s new book comes out

Path: cmcl2!cmcl2.nyu.edu!grewals From: grewals@acf2.nyu.edu (Subir Grewal) Newsgroups: alt.religion.islam,soc.culture.pakistan,soc.culture.iranian,soc.culture.egyptian,soc.culture.arabic,talk.religion.misc,soc.culture.maghreb,soc.culture.bangladesh,soc.culture.indian,alt.culture.saudi Subject: Re: Salman Rushdie's new book comes out Followup-To: alt.religion.islam,soc.culture.pakistan,soc.culture.iranian,soc.culture.egyptian,soc.culture.bangladesh,soc.culture.indian Date: 11 Sep 1995 15:48:55 GMT Organization: New York University Lines: 39 Message-ID: <431lp7$4k1@cmcl2.NYU.EDU> References: <42lmtp$t6l@mirv.unsw.edu.au> <42nvrf$t19@newsbf02.news.aol.com> <42qdje$ph4@tin.monsanto.com> <42sflj$50u@mozo.cc.purdue.edu> <42t2k4$qdj@hearst.cac.psu.edu> <42tbnr$7i7@newsflash.concordia.ca> <431hh7$b3h@tin.monsanto.com> NNTP-Posting-Host: acf2.nyu.edu X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL2] Xref: cmcl2 alt.religion.islam:16384 soc.culture.pakistan:105955 soc.culture.iranian:81555 soc.culture.egyptian:4539 soc.culture.arabic:48364 talk.religion.misc:221149 soc.culture.maghreb:8870 soc.culture.bangladesh:35828 soc.culture.indian:274178 alt.culture.saudi:1225

Follow-ups trimmed.

Saqib Mausoof (ssmaus@musctn.monsanto.com) wrote: : Ilyess Bdira <ilyess@ece.concordia.ca> wrote:

: Using the word fan was perhaps inappropriate. I have respect for Mr. : Rushdie’s writing and the stance he has taken for the third world in his : numerous novels. I do believe that he had a certain responsibility as a : writer and he provoked a lot of nasty emotions among the muslims. In fact : the Sikh writer Khushawat Singh advised Pelican that publishing “Satanic : Verses” would hurt the feelings of most Muslims.

Incidentally, it is Khushwant Singh’s comments on and review of Satanic Verses that sparked the protest from some members of the Indian muslim community, resulting in the book being banned in India. Most of the people calling for the ban had not read the book themselves, only Khushwant’s review. Duh, wonder what we think of this in light of his comments on Tagore? Oh, another thing, Khushwant apparently did not say “Tagore is over-rated”, but rather that Tagore’s *novels* are over-rated. The thrust seemed to be that Tagore’s longer prose fiction is only read because of his admittedly valuabel poetry and short prose. It seems we have a tendency to blow things out of proportion sometimes. 🙂

see http://fileroom.aaup.uic.edu/FileRoom/documents/Cases/195rushdie.html -- Subir Grewal grewals@acf2.nyu.edu
Washington Square News on the WWWeb http://www.nyu.edu/pages/wsn/
------------------------Standard disclaimer applies--------------------------
"By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote. In fact, it is as difficult to appropriate the thoughts of others as it is to invent. (R. Emerson)"
-- Quoted from a fortune cookie program (whose author claims, "Actually, stealing IS easier.") [to which I reply, "You think it's easy for me to misconstrue all these misquotations?!?"]

Salman Rushdie’s book belongs only to soc.culture.british and literature groups

Path: cmcl2!cmcl2.nyu.edu!grewals From: grewals@acf2.nyu.edu (Subir Grewal) Newsgroups: alt.religion.islam,soc.culture.pakistan,soc.culture.egyptian,soc.culture.arabic,soc.culture.maghreb,alt.culture.saudi,soc.culture.indian Subject: Re: Salman Rushdie's book belongs only to soc.culture.british and literature groups. Date: 11 Sep 1995 22:58:21 GMT Organization: New York University Lines: 65 Message-ID: <432eud$elc@cmcl2.NYU.EDU> References: <42tbnr$7i7@newsflash.concordia.ca> <42vh02$gqr@newsbf02.news.aol.com> <431d59$mjt@newsflash.concordia.ca> <nhnDEqv0D.BLG@netcom.com> NNTP-Posting-Host: acf2.nyu.edu Follow-ups: soc.culture.pakistan,soc.culture.indian,soc.culture.egyptian,alt.religion.islam X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL2] Xref: cmcl2 alt.religion.islam:16401 soc.culture.pakistan:106007 soc.culture.egyptian:4549 soc.culture.arabic:48379 soc.culture.maghreb:8885 alt.culture.saudi:1232 soc.culture.indian:274267

[soc.culture.indian added to distribution, follow-ups directed to: soc.culture.indian,soc.culture.pakistan,soc.culture.egyptian,alt.religion.islam]

: Ilyess Bdira (ilyess@ece.concordia.ca) wrote:

: : you are Salman Rushdie, is saying that I am as ready to insult your religious : : icons and to slander your religion as he was.

Of course Islam was instended to be devoid of icons. The more things change the more they remain the same.

: : Yes there are Muslim fans who read his books, but there are many more : : Rushdie fans who never read his book. His books are decent, but still : : low-calibre. A high caliber writer would be Hemingway, Poe, etc.. : : that is my opinion. (sorry could not find British writers riight off my head)..

As you yourself know very well, people often flock to those whose views they support. Unfortunately your self-delusion that people support Rushdie because he is “anti-Islam” is quite naiive to say the least. It is equally plausible that they support Rushdie because he has been unduly subjected to censorship the world over.

: : That style of writing does not impress me at all (and I read a lot of short : : stories in three languages using that hallucinating style, did not like it : : in any language). About his book, I could not stand it.. Too long, you can only : : endure that kind of book if your mind is into that kind of hallucinations.

Try Gabriel Garcias Marquez, Milan Kundera, Shashi Tharoor’s “The great Indian story”, to name only contemporary writers. If however you are impressed with age alone read Don Quixote by Cervantes, the precursor to all the fine work that Spanish culture has produced in the field of magical realism.

: : writer’s best critics are his readers. Rushdie WAS an unknown to most people, : : and he wrote the “verses”, and no body noticed for more than 4 months…until : : somebody gave a copy to some Pakistani Mullahs or something like that… : : Probably somebody trying to market the book. The rest is history.

Your facts are a little skewed. The whole hullabaloo arose when Khushwant Singh (on reading the book) suggested it might be interpreted as casting a derogatory light on the prophet. Some members of the muslim community in India acting on Khushwant Singh cricism (without reading the book themselves of course) raised a hue and cry about it. The Indian govt. promptly banned the book (very bad move) AND the rest is history. : : Of cou rse, as I said, the fatwah is a totally different matter.

: : If I write any future replies, it would be in soc.culture… Well this belongs : : nowhere, so no more replies in any of the above newsgroups.

Duh, you can always trim follow-ups.

-- Subir Grewal grewals@acf2.nyu.edu
Washington Square News on the WWWeb http://www.nyu.edu/pages/wsn/
------------------------Standard disclaimer applies--------------------------
"By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote. In fact, it is as difficult to appropriate the thoughts of others as it is to invent. (R. Emerson)"
-- Quoted from a fortune cookie program (whose author claims, "Actually, stealing IS easier.") [to which I reply, "You think it's easy for me to misconstrue all these misquotations?!?"]

Salman Rushdie’s new book comes out

Path: cmcl2!cmcl2.nyu.edu!grewals From: grewals@acf2.nyu.edu (Subir Grewal) Newsgroups: alt.religion.islam,soc.culture.pakistan,soc.culture.iranian,soc.culture.egyptian,soc.culture.arabic,talk.religion.misc,soc.culture.maghreb,soc.culture.bangladesh,soc.culture.indian,alt.culture.saudi Subject: Re: Salman Rushdie's new book comes out Followup-To: alt.religion.islam,soc.culture.pakistan,soc.culture.iranian,soc.culture.egyptian,soc.culture.indian Date: 12 Sep 1995 10:30:17 GMT Organization: New York University Lines: 74 Message-ID: <433nfp$ab5@cmcl2.NYU.EDU> References: <42lmtp$t6l@mirv.unsw.edu.au> <42nvrf$t19@newsbf02.news.aol.com> <42qdje$ph4@tin.monsanto.com> <42sflj$50u@mozo.cc.purdue.edu> <42t2k4$qdj@hearst.cac.psu.edu> <42tbnr$7i7@newsflash.concordia.ca> <431hh7$b3h@tin.monsanto.com> <nhnDEqxtM.8Hz@netcom.com> <431th5$iti@nntp.Stanford.EDU> <4326ho$jbo@inet-nntp-gw-1.us.oracle.com> <432sqf$o83@nntp.Stanford.EDU> NNTP-Posting-Host: acf2.nyu.edu X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL2] Xref: cmcl2 alt.religion.islam:16441 soc.culture.pakistan:106090 soc.culture.iranian:81628 soc.culture.egyptian:4564 soc.culture.arabic:48402 talk.religion.misc:221234 soc.culture.maghreb:8903 soc.culture.bangladesh:35891 soc.culture.indian:274365 alt.culture.saudi:1249

Followups trimmed.

Rajesh Kamath (rkamath@james.Stanford.EDU) wrote: : Khers (khers@manjil.com) wrote: : : rkamath@james.Stanford.EDU (Rajesh Kamath) wrote: : : > : : >Why should Rushdie be willing to sacrifice his life in a battle that : : >he didn’t even choose to fight? He probably wrote Satanic Verses as : : >just a book. A provocative book, no doubt, but certainly not written : : >with the object of initiating a battle over freedom of speech. Why, : : >then, should he be willing to sacrifice his life for it? : : Because according to religious thinking, one must be willing : : to die for one’s beliefs.

: The point is: Its not clear that Rushdie has some belief to state. : Remember, he didn’t write the Satanic Verses as a challenge saying: : Here are my beliefs, do what you want. He just wrote it. He may : not even feel too strongly about freedom of speech etc. Why should : he fight a battle which is not of his own making? Why should he : be called a coward for refusing to do so?

Actually Russhdie does believe very strongly in freedom of speech. If you read Midnight’s Children carefully you’ll see why. Haroun and the sea of stories is a brilliant fairy-tale about restrictive governments. The thing is, I see no reason for Rushdie to present himself for judgement before a system of law that he does not ascribe to (Russhdie is a self-described atheist, the brief re-conversion to Islam was a desperate attempt to have the fatwa revoked when he found that his wife couldn’t bear it any more and was going to leave him because she couldn’t take the pressure), and which seems to him patently unjust and skewed. Rushdie is not, repeat not, Iranian. At most he falls under Indian urisdiction due to his birth in India, and no court in India would ever incarcerate Salman Rushdie or threaten violence against him for this supposed “crime” (if they did all right thinking citizens would press for it to be frwarded to the SC, and our SSC is quite reasonable thank you). Since the decleration of the fatwa and Satanic Verses being banned in India, Rushdie has come out again and again to speak out against oppression of opinion anywhere in the world. Contrary to the opinion of some, Rushdie is fighting, thankfully he is not using the sort of draconian tools Khomeini thought it wise to use. We must respect Rushdie if only because he has refused to incite any violence against the former Ayatollah or the state of Iran. It should be made clear to you that being in the center of the lime-light, and having your name recognised by people who haven’t even read your books is hardly a priority for a writer like Rushdie. In fact the loss of his freeedom is most lamentable and perhaps the worst punishment he could ever have received (it’s not punishment but some sort of fanatical vengeance). Rushdie has become a martyr to the cause of freedom, that’s a lot more than one can say for many others. Incidentally I do not think “the supreme sacrifice” is something many people should undertake. More often than not they are bpawns in a game with bigger interests than what they hold dear.

: How many of these officials have become “shaheed” in the cause : of Islam?

I forget who said this but it goes roughly like this “the object of war is not to die courageously for your country, but to make the other fellow die for his”. Apt, but Rushdie has not chosen to fight a war, unlike some misguided so-called Muslims who claim that the only significant contribution Mohammed made to their lives is the introduction of the concept of jihad.

-- Subir Grewal grewals@acf2.nyu.edu
Washington Square News on the WWWeb http://www.nyu.edu/pages/wsn/
------------------------Standard disclaimer applies--------------------------
"By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote. In fact, it is as difficult to appropriate the thoughts of others as it is to invent. (R. Emerson)"
-- Quoted from a fortune cookie program (whose author claims, "Actually, stealing IS easier.") [to which I reply, "You think it's easy for me to misconstrue all these misquotations?!?"]

Salman Rushdie’s new book comes out

 

Path: cmcl2!cmcl2.nyu.edu!grewals From: grewals@acf2.nyu.edu (Subir Grewal) Newsgroups: alt.religion.islam,soc.culture.pakistan,soc.culture.egyptian,soc.culture.arabic,soc.culture.maghreb,alt.culture.saudi,soc.culture.indian Subject: Re: Salman Rushdie's book belongs only to soc.culture.british and literature groups. Date: 11 Sep 1995 22:58:21 GMT Organization: New York University Lines: 65 Message-ID: <432eud$elc@cmcl2.NYU.EDU> References: <42tbnr$7i7@newsflash.concordia.ca> <42vh02$gqr@newsbf02.news.aol.com> <431d59$mjt@newsflash.concordia.ca> <nhnDEqv0D.BLG@netcom.com> NNTP-Posting-Host: acf2.nyu.edu Follow-ups: soc.culture.pakistan,soc.culture.indian,soc.culture.egyptian,alt.religion.islam X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL2] Xref: cmcl2 alt.religion.islam:16401 soc.culture.pakistan:106007 soc.culture.egyptian:4549 soc.culture.arabic:48379 soc.culture.maghreb:8885 alt.culture.saudi:1232 soc.culture.indian:274267

[soc.culture.indian added to distribution, follow-ups directed to: soc.culture.indian,soc.culture.pakistan,soc.culture.egyptian,alt.religion.islam]

: Ilyess Bdira (ilyess@ece.concordia.ca) wrote:

: : you are Salman Rushdie, is saying that I am as ready to insult your religious : : icons and to slander your religion as he was.

Of course Islam was instended to be devoid of icons. The more things change the more they remain the same.

: : Yes there are Muslim fans who read his books, but there are many more : : Rushdie fans who never read his book. His books are decent, but still : : low-calibre. A high caliber writer would be Hemingway, Poe, etc.. : : that is my opinion. (sorry could not find British writers riight off my head)..

As you yourself know very well, people often flock to those whose views they support. Unfortunately your self-delusion that people support Rushdie because he is “anti-Islam” is quite naiive to say the least. It is equally plausible that they support Rushdie because he has been unduly subjected to censorship the world over.

: : That style of writing does not impress me at all (and I read a lot of short : : stories in three languages using that hallucinating style, did not like it : : in any language). About his book, I could not stand it.. Too long, you can only : : endure that kind of book if your mind is into that kind of hallucinations.

Try Gabriel Garcias Marquez, Milan Kundera, Shashi Tharoor’s “The great Indian story”, to name only contemporary writers. If however you are impressed with age alone read Don Quixote by Cervantes, the precursor to all the fine work that Spanish culture has produced in the field of magical realism.

: : writer’s best critics are his readers. Rushdie WAS an unknown to most people, : : and he wrote the “verses”, and no body noticed for more than 4 months…until : : somebody gave a copy to some Pakistani Mullahs or something like that… : : Probably somebody trying to market the book. The rest is history.

Your facts are a little skewed. The whole hullabaloo arose when Khushwant Singh (on reading the book) suggested it might be interpreted as casting a derogatory light on the prophet. Some members of the muslim community in India acting on Khushwant Singh cricism (without reading the book themselves of course) raised a hue and cry about it. The Indian govt. promptly banned the book (very bad move) AND the rest is history. : : Of cou rse, as I said, the fatwah is a totally different matter.

: : If I write any future replies, it would be in soc.culture… Well this belongs : : nowhere, so no more replies in any of the above newsgroups.

Duh, you can always trim follow-ups.

-- Subir Grewal grewals@acf2.nyu.edu
Washington Square News on the WWWeb http://www.nyu.edu/pages/wsn/
------------------------Standard disclaimer applies--------------------------
"By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote. In fact, it is as difficult to appropriate the thoughts of others as it is to invent. (R. Emerson)"
-- Quoted from a fortune cookie program (whose author claims, "Actually, stealing IS easier.") [to which I reply, "You think it's easy for me to misconstrue all these misquotations?!?"]

‘The Moor’s Last Sigh’: views (SASIALIT)

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Re: 'The Moor's Last Sigh': views

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* To: Prentiss Riddle <riddle@is.rice.edu> * Subject: Re: 'The Moor's Last Sigh': views * From: Subir Grewal <grewals@acf2.NYU.EDU> * Date: Fri, 8 Mar 1996 17:05:30 -0500 (EST) * Cc: balaji@TCS.COM, SASIALIT@RICEVM1.RICE.EDU * In-Reply-To: <199603082120.PAA24661@brazos.is.rice.edu>

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On Fri, 8 Mar 1996, Prentiss Riddle wrote:

> or invent. For example, Wallia is offended by Aurora Zogoiby’s > peculiar use of verbs like “killofy” or “proceedofy”; he doesn’t notice > that her language is an imagined family idiosyncrasy, not meant to be > standard Indian English at all (and particularly enjoyable to me as a > member of a family with some not entirely unparallel idiosyncrasies).

I haven’t read this review but like so many other instances in Rushdie, I was shocked to read *-ofy because we’d thought we owned the damn construct. This particular form is something my friends and I are quite familiar with, and it’s always wonderful when Rushdie comes up with somehting you _know_ instinctively.

> As for Wallia’s claim that no one really reads or enjoys Rushdie — > well, I for one just finished the book and for the most part enjoyed > it. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the arc of the plot, which seemed > to me to lack forward motion and in particular a satisfying resolution > in the final section. But although I’m lukewarm about the book’s > progress toward its destination, I certainly enjoyed the ride, > particularly the opening “melodrama” and the continual polyglot > wordplay that Wallia disparages.

Ditto, Rushdie’s linguistic acrobatics are most enjoyable. Resolution is not big on the list of things I desire, but then again you never know till you get to the end (ha?)

I’ve added a series of photographs of Bombay and Cochin to the site as well. Some of them will be quite familiar to readers of the Moor’s Last Sigh.

http://www.nyu.edu/pages/wsn/subir/rushdie/bom_images.html

is something I particularly enjoyed putting together.

Subir

Blue Ribbon Education officer, comp.advocacy@NYU http://www.nyu.edu/pages/advocacy/
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Fine day to work off excess energy. Steal something heavy.

 

A look at Wallia’s essay (SASIALIT)

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A look at Wallia's essay

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* _To_: Multiple recipients of list SASIALIT <[5]SASIALIT@RICEVM1.RICE.EDU> * _Subject_: A look at Wallia's essay * _From_: Subir Grewal <[6]grewals@ACF2.NYU.EDU> * _Date_: Fri, 8 Mar 1996 19:38:56 -0500 * _Reply-To_: Subir Grewal <[7]grewals@ACF2.NYU.EDU> * _Sender_: SASIALIT -- Literature of South Asia and the Indian diaspora <[8]SASIALIT@RICEVM1.RICE.EDU>

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After a brief look at Wallia’s essay, which I found rather derisive. I have these points to make.

Wallia definitely needs to loosen up a bit, the guy’s stiff collar is choking him to death. I don’t know who exactly he is but he sounds amazingly like Makhijani would if he’d studied at Oxford.

Now,

The essay contains the following text ______________________________________________________________________________ Aurora Zogoiby, a famous painter, we are told is “a giant public figure …the confidante– and according to persistent rumours, mistress– of Pandit Nehru.” Moreover,”…there was the group of distinguished writers who gathered for a time under Aurora’s wing, Premchand and Sadat Hasan Manto and Mulk Raj Anand and Ismat Chugtai…” Four of the biggest names, all literary lions. All right, we understand that Aurora is a very sophisticated lady. Now, this is the Indian-English Rushdie wants us to believe Aurora articulates:

” Oho-ho girl, what a shock you gave, one day you will killofy my heart…”; ______________________________________________________________________________

CJS Wallia Phd, gets no points in my book for using the word “sophisticated”. There are obvious problems with the assumption that someone who is “sophisticated” must necessarily speak BBC English. My mother is quite capable of conversing with just about anyone she wishes, she only bothers to speak “correct” English when she’s angry at some pretentious fool. Aurora I would like to believe is somewhat like my mom. (Now, we can talk about why I felt it necessary to claim for my mother the ability to speak “perfect” English, later). Wallia then, is perhaps stuck in a realm where the correct English is that spoken by the natives, i.e. native to England, and an India where the upper classes speak faultless English. One can only believe something as preposterous as this if one’s entire life has been spent watching the “news in English” on Doordarshan.

I’ve met more than enough people who’ve read SV and enjoyed it, to be convinced that Wallia’s claim about SV’s popularity is baseless. As Rushdie himself remarked, a book is not a movie, people don’t read books as soon as they buy them (at least not all of us) and it takes about 5 years before a significant number of people who’ve bought a book have read it. I myself have SV sitting on my bookshelf waiting for a short slot of about 4 days when I can spend some time with it. The question about the date for the Babri masjid is an interesting one. In Imaginary Homelands Rushdie confessed that there were many “discrepancies” in Midnight’s historical allusions. Not unsurprisingly, one can read this into the novel as an expression of history in flux, a self that is. Then again, it’s just a number. It would be absurd to ask whether the “mistake” were intended or unintended, that’s inconsequential. What is consequential is that you can get something out of it, unless you’re as obssesed with the preoccupations of the pedant, chief among them being “library work”.

Wallia hasn’t read Seth if he claims that Rushdie alone is obsessed with rhyme. But rhyme works in different ways for these authors. For Seth it is poetry, in Rushdie it is the allure of “soo chhe saroo chhe, danda leke maroo chhe”. The rhyme, often nonsense rhyme (where’s ezeikel!) that is the fever of the moment.

What’s the deal with “authenticity” anyway. The gods have stood up for bastards, but perhaps Wallia (willie, wally, willie-wallie?) slept through that. Yes, Rushdie has given the sub-continent a “voice”, not the voice of the vedas at all. But the voice for another sort of people, the voices they speak in when wandering around the streets of their cities, the voices we know so well from playgrounds in so many “english-medium” schools and the voices of the hesitant. These are not the voices of the Mahabharat or the Veda (oh, Willie-wallie insists on writing Mahabharata, an anglicization I find chaffing). We are not Vyas, nor are we Tagore, perhaps bits and pieces of them. We are, I am closer to Rushdie by far.

As for Rushdie’s alleged pandering “to his Euro-centered readers” one must point out that the average European would find Rushdie very difficult. If anything I’m quite concerned that Rushdie is writing for only one specific person, the Urban Indian. I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing. We probably need glossaries for his novels. Wallia’s concern about Rushdie’s euro-centeredness is preposterous when one considers Rushdie’s critical writing. But far be it from me to suggest that the novelist knows what his novels “mean”.

As a final taste of Willie’s condition, really tight underwear I’m sure here’s a taste of his particular blindness to imagery in ficition:

________________________________________________________________________ In _The Moor’s Last Sigh, _for example, the first person narrator writes, “In Punjab, Assam, Kashmir, Meerut–in Delhi, in Calcutta–from time to time they slit their neighbours’ throats and took warm showers, or red bubble-baths, in all that spuming blood.” True, religious riots do erupt every now and then and people do get stabbed, typically in hit-and-run killings; however, this “red bubble-baths” is a hundred percent Rushdie fabrication. About as authentic as Steven Spielberg’s _Temple of Doom _showing Indians feasting on monkey brains. The country that practically innovated vegetarianism! Disgusting. __________________________________________________________________________

Prescriptions for Willie-Wallie

* Hang out with Khushwant Singh a little more often * Begin wearing a kachhera * Drop the PhD

 

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Subir

Blue Ribbon Education officer, comp.advocacy@NYU http://www.nyu.edu/pages/advocacy/
PGP Key fingerprint = C5 92 27 76 A0 E4 8B A0 65 A8 ED 05 11 DF A3 3A ---------------
My Opinions 0.93b; bugs >> grewals@acf2.nyu.edu
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Fine day to work off excess energy. Steal something heavy.

 

The Moor’s Last Sigh (SASIALIT)

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The Moor's Last Sigh

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* _To_: Multiple recipients of list SASIALIT <[5]SASIALIT@RICEVM1.RICE.EDU> * _Subject_: The Moor's Last Sigh * _From_: Subir Grewal <[6]grewals@ACF2.NYU.EDU> * _Date_: Sun, 5 May 1996 12:41:16 -0400 * _In-Reply-To_: <[7]9605021451.AA22222@oolite.austin.ibm.com> * _Reply-To_: Joined Trill <[8]hostmaster@trill-home.com> * _Sender_: SASIALIT -- Literature of South Asia and the Indian diaspora <[9]SASIALIT@RICEVM1.RICE.EDU>

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Minor problems with mailer upgrades have kept me from reading SASIALIT for the past couple of weeks, which is probably why I didn’t jump into the library discussion with phasers on, but on to the Moor.

I hope I won’t be spoiling things for people who haven’t read the book, but I really don’t feel like inserting spoiler space. If you are concerned about learning too much of the “plot” it may be better not to read on.

If there’s one overwhelming feeling I came away with after reading the book it was weariness/sadness, but that really doesn’t say much. Despite Aurora’s zest there seemed to be just too many broken promises to bear for too long. To set it in Cochin’s Jewtown and then have a character who’s aging twice as fast probably has something to do with it. Decay is pervasive in the novel whether its the Alhambra or the Moor (BTW, anyone else sense the novel is chock-full of architecture, Uh, Rushdie discovers structuralism eh.). But Dilly is absolutely wonderful, he obviously hit a nerve there. Wonder how many “smugglers are really bad” story-books Rushdie read? Nice bohemian circle built around Aurora, but I really couldn’t stand her dancing at Ganesh Chaturthi, but outrageous things are only fun when you’re doing them. The jacket of my copy has a photo of Rushdie with his fingers curled up, RSI for him as well?

I’ll stop now, really should get back to that paper I have to write.

hostmaster@trill-home.com * Trills 4 thrills * Blue-Ribbon * Lynx 2.5 Abstainer, n.: A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure. — Ambrose Bierce, “The Devil’s Dictionary”

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IndiaStar article on Rushdie (SASIALIT)

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Re: IndiaStar article on Rushdie

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* _To_: Multiple recipients of list SASIALIT <[5]SASIALIT@RICEVM1.RICE.EDU> * _Subject_: Re: IndiaStar article on Rushdie * _From_: Subir Grewal <[6]grewals@ACF2.NYU.EDU> * _Date_: Tue, 14 May 1996 02:28:25 -0400 * _Comments_: To: "C.J.S. WALLIA" <cjwallia@indiastar.com> * _In-Reply-To_: <31982CB8.14C7@indiastar.com> * _Reply-To_: Joined Trill <[7]hostmaster@trill-home.com> * _Sender_: SASIALIT -- Literature of South Asia and the Indian diaspora <[8]SASIALIT@RICEVM1.RICE.EDU>

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On Mon, 13 May 1996, C.J.S. WALLIA wrote:

:My review of Rushdie’s writings was well received by many at the :University of California, Berkeley, and by the vibrant literary :community here.

Nice to know you have company where you are ;~)

:You don’t like my review. No problem. What is reprehensible is your ad :hominem attacks on me. Several of your assertions– for example, drop :your Ph.D.– sound like the screams of a street brawler.

I wonder whether your fixation with the Ph.D. issue is really pretension or simply anxious desire to be taken seriously. Perhaps pretension too requries a degree of sincerity. What I’d suggested were prescriptions, a certain degree of nonchalance you (as a reader) appear to lack, and something that may heighten your appreciation of Rushdie. You insist of course, on wearing a safari suit and arranging the crease on your iron(ed) pants even when drinking scotch. Well, all good things to you Mr. Walia, I doubt you will ever move past a sense of being wronged by “ad hominem attacks” made on you by unsympathetic post-modernists. Such fury that moves you to justified confusion while constructing sentences where my attacks “is” reprehensible.

hostmaster@trill-home.com * Trills 4 thrills * Blue-Ribbon * Lynx 2.5 Elevators smell different to midgets

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More on Rushdie (wasn’t this Moor month?) (SASIALIT)

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More on Rushdie (wasn't this Moor month?)

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* To: Multiple recipients of list SASIALIT <SASIALIT@RICEVM1.RICE.EDU> * Subject: More on Rushdie (wasn't this Moor month?) * From: Subir Grewal <grewals@ACF2.NYU.EDU> * Date: Tue, 28 May 1996 20:52:53 -0400 * Reply-To: Joined Trill <hostmaster@trill-home.com> * Sender: SASIALIT -- Literature of South Asia and the Indian diaspora <SASIALIT@RICEVM1.RICE.EDU>

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And now, a few comments on julian samuel’s artcile on Rushdie.

The suggestion is that Rushdie has used Islam and the western perception of Islam as an “easy target” upon which to build Satanic Verses’ allure for the west. We can of course speak of how the denounciation of the Ayatollah is an attempt to forget the not too distant acts of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, but this is perhaps so obvious as to merit no mention. That Rushdie would have planned the entire fatwa episode and counted on it to ensure the popularity and success of Satanic Verses is absurd. That he included the infamous chapters knowingly is almost certain, but I doubt they was calculated to evince the response they did. Samuel suggests that Rushdie is knowingly controversial because he is aware of the sympathy this will evoke from the west, Samuel tells us this is at once a “moral good” (in that it is “a parody of religion in all its evil forms”) and something too easy to stoop to. The question is not about religion and whether or not Rushdie’s “parody” is a “moral good”, but rather one of the imaginative project. There is no need of an “end”, the arabesques themselves are what the work IS. Nor is there any pressing need to place the book within a discourse about colonialism. The political is only one facet of Rushdie’s work, but here of course we are dealing with a critic concerned with the ease with which Rushdie has slipped into the “soft folds” of a Fabian inteligentsia and the glory of a “classless” narrative.

Now on to Rushdie’s influences. I see little that tells me Rushdie echoes Joyce (and which Joyce?). Marquez of course has become the poster boy for the entire Spanish fabulist mode. I doubt any reasonable assessment of Rushdie’s influences can fail to include (perhaps beginning from the beginning), Cervantes, Borges, Cortazar, Fuentes. Marquez alone simply will not do. And if we are to look at the profound influence the Spanish canon has had on Rushdie we must look at the European (placing Latin America and Spain outside of Europe, with Russia in nowhere-land) “roots” of the canonical fabulists, now we must include Dante, Carroll, Vernes and Kafka. Rushdie himself claims Gogol, Cervantes, Kafka, Melville, Machado de Assis. Maybe the salve for the agony of influence is to have too many influences. Undoubtedly I have left out writers who should belong here. But to come back to the issue of Spanish literature (and now the Moor’s relation to everything Spanish), one that is pertinent here, we must also remember the shadow of the inquisition. If anything it is the inquisition that should be counted as an influence, and the political repression in South America.

I think it best not to comment on the issue of Rushdie writing from the safe haven of Britain, while other authors die. The thought and fear of being burnt at the stake is never pleasant, even if the inquisition never really catches you. The status of heresy, it now appears, is not what Samuel claims it is. On the contrary, heresy still carries disasterous consequences, and the claim that western readers will digest anything just as long as it is heretic, abusive (especially when directed towards the ‘outside’) and placatory is to be doubted. Heresy is generally brilliant. “A look at Hindu mythology confirms that the sin of Onan is logically flawed for Brahma created the universe from his seed, and was therefore the first masturbator and the first creator. He seeded the ground, the mandrake and the humunculus.” The richness of religious myth and the history of heresy is obviously irresistable, and only someone wearing blinders, searching for “ends” in fiction would suggest that it is futile to play with powerful myths because it has been done before, has it been done this way though? There is nothing that is “off-limits” for a writer; and in the case of SV and most notably Terra Nostra (my copy was stolen today) the very fact that religion is surrounded by an aura is what draws the author. Rushdie’s relation to religion can hardly be equivalent to Joyce’s, which is why there is no “meditation on religion”, religious myth is simply another log for Rushdie’s fire, perhaps just a little more significant because it can burn him too. Perhaps Rushdie has nothing “important” or even “novel” to say about religion, but it’ how he says it that counts, what metaphor, what allusion, what response.

To finish, Rushdie is to be read for the imaginativeness in his prose, true this includes the political sphere, but is not subsumed by it.

PS. Still to read Satanic Verses. Perhaps someday ;~)

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On Rushdie and Muhammed (SASIALIT)

 

From grewals@acf2.NYU.EDU Sat Oct 5 00:37:18 1996 Date: Sat, 5 Oct 1996 00:23:22 -0400 From: Subir Grewal <grewals@acf2.NYU.EDU> Reply-To: Joined Trill <hostmaster@trill-home.com> To: Multiple recipients of list SASIALIT <SASIALIT@LISTSERV.RICE.EDU> Subject: Re: Totally OFF the wicket (was Rushdie sight-screen-ings)

On Fri, 4 Oct 1996, Usama Khalidi wrote:

:I am not so sure. True, it’s a defense of artistic freedom. But it wasn’t :just artistic whims that was at the core of L’Affair Ruchdi. It was a :reckless disregard for the religious sentiments of millions of people.

Hmmm, I don’t think people have a right to have their religious sentiments respected. In any case, Rushdie did nothing that was novel, nor did he present a radically new reading of the Koran. He was reframing old heresies. True, some would rather forget that there have been heretics in the past, it’s easier to place a shroud of respectability on the long dead that way. But there is really nothing to get bothered about when people say such things about a Koran that was written after Muhammad’s death, whose text is probably corrupted (in an extremely literal sense) and finally, one that is a supreme feat of visionary poetry. As author, Rushdie can comment on the works of another poet, its more interesting when there is a strong relationship between the two individuals and their work. Though most people do agree that it is likely that the Koran we have today contains the exact words of Muhammad (simply because of its powerful poetic nature), we must accept that somethings may have been lost. Of course, not many churches are as powerful as the Roman, so they must rely on the priority of ancient texts for their diktats, but then getting into the veracity of the NT is probably not a good idea anyway.

So, we’re dealing with one powerful poem that was finally written down 12 – 22 years after the death of its author. A poem that was composed over many years, that was compiled from various sources who are said to have memorized it (and it is easy to see why). Then we try to find out more about the life of its author. What we find are two lost biographies written over 100 years after the death of the subject. What we have are fragments preserved in other biographies written about 150-200 years after the subject’s death and the slightly irksome habit of the biographers to quote few (if any) sources. The texts themselves (both of the Koran and the Sira[s]) have seen errors in transcription over the centuries.

We can’t say that there was no such figure as Muhammed (it’s difficult to maintain that about Jesus as well), but we know painfully little about him. We know little about his poetic influences, we know little about how he developed his philosophy, we know even less about his visions and what can you say about the psychology of a poet who turns over the entire act of creation to a (male) muse acting on behalf of an (androgynous?) godhead. And to top it all off, the poet claims the status of a medium. Plus he remains the most successful poet-king in history, well maybe an argument could be made about David, but the authorship of the OT is problematic, to say the least. There is no doubt this is a formidable figure, and his is a formidable poem. Was he an aspect of something divine, who knows? Was he influenced by the dark side? I tend to think every poet is in some manner.

What we can perhaps say with certainty is that the dogmatic life of Muhammed, though accurate in parts, is to be taken with a grain of salt. There is no “truth” we can glean about the life and visions of a poet who died (thank God I can say that) 1,364 years ago. So what is Rushdie’s heresy? That he hurt the sentiments of “many”? Frankly, who the hell cares. Artistic freedom is absolute, and strong authors know that intiutively. And Rushdie does not even claim anything but fictional status for the book. Who cares why he did it? I think the Divine Comedy is a very anti-Christian, certainly anti-church poem. Maybe Dante wrote it because he hated a church that bred such bishops with a vengeance. Maybe Donne sold out to the protestant church, stifled his religion. Maybe Paradise Lost is the cry of a blind man who has been cast from the realm of light. Maybe God is dead.

In the end, the poem stands alone.

:Back to TLSM, I have often wondered how could Rushdie have amassed so much :detail about life in Bombay when he hardly spent many adult years there. Did :he do all that research himself or hired some one to do it for him? Idle :questions, I guess, but intriguing, nonetheless.

I think some of Rushdie’s distinctive vision of Bombay comes from being away. Getting everything through newspaper reports, maybe letters, influences the manner in which we re-member something. The disjointedness of Rushdie’s work suggests something like a building out of scraps, and one of his themes is of course forgetting.

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