You are looking at 1 - 10 of 14 items for
- Author: Andrew Teverson x
- Refine by access: All content x
One of the dominant impressions given by the sculpture of Anish Kapoor is of haunting. In and around the definite presences, the manifest shining, brightly coloured forms, lie a series of baffling absences; the shades of presences that are in excess of the work, or the shadows of meanings not yet grasped. Perhaps this is most evident in the work that announces its haunting in its title, the spectral sculpture Ghost (1997), in which a sliver of light, caught dancing in the polished interior of a rugged block of Kilkenny limestone, becomes not only the `presence‘ that occupies the work but also a symbol of all that it is unable to embody and leaves hovering about its fringes and borders. This Ghost is Kapoor‘s haunted house sculpture; a sculpture in which the mysterious agency that unnerves the viewer is both the most significant occupant of its limestone mansion and, paradoxically, its most insignificant, or unsignifiable omission.
Salman Rushdie is one of the world's most important writers of politicised fiction. He is a self-proclaimed controversialist, capable of exciting radically divergent viewpoints; a novelist of extraordinary imaginative range and power; and an erudite, and often fearless, commentator upon the state of global politics today. This critical study examines the intellectual, biographical, literary and cultural contexts from which Rushdie's fiction springs, in order to help the reader make sense of the often complex debates that surround the life and work of this major contemporary figure. It also offers detailed critical readings of all Rushdie's novels, from Grimus through to Shalimar the Clown.
This introductory chapter sets out the purpose of the book, which is to examine the intellectual basis of Salman Rushdie's politicised aesthetic in detail. It is worth noting from the outset, however, that one of the characteristic features of Rushdie's writing is its self-consciousness, and its willingness to incorporate an analysis of the cultural locations from which it is written. The result of this is that the criticisms which can be (and have been) made of Rushdie as a writer are frequently anticipated, if not entirely defused or ‘answered’, in his own writing – a fact that makes any simplistic judgements about his political locations difficult.
This chapter explores Rushdie's conception of the relationship between art and politics. It turns to three essays written by Rushdie in the early 1980s, at the juncture of his career when he was starting to define his public role as a novelist after the successes of Midnight's Children and Shame. These essays, which might, with a degree of critical licence, be seen to amount to a manifesto of his views on the political functions of art, are ‘Imaginary Homelands’ (1982), ‘Outside the Whale’ (1984) and ‘The Location of Brazil’ (1985). Arguably the most revealing of all these is ‘Outside the Whale’, written in partial response to George Orwell's 1940 essay, ‘Inside the Whale’, in which it is suggested that writers, rather than engaging directly in politics, should climb inside a metaphorical whale where, with ‘yards of blubber between [themselves] and reality’, they will be ‘able to keep up an attitude of the completest indifference’ to the world.
The fact that English education in India may be seen as a tool for the cultural domination of Indians, designed to cement and extend the dominion already effected through military and economic means, makes explicit a central problem confronting an anti-colonial and post-colonial writer such as Rushdie, whose literary language of choice is English. Briefly stated: by using English, Rushdie lays himself open to the charge that he is not only accepting the legacy of British imperial rule but legitimising the culturally imperialistic act which brought English into being as a sub-continental language. Some of Rushdie's more aggressive critics have made this argument against him with force.
Attention to the epic, oral, filmic, televisual and photographic models employed in Rushdie's novels give some indication of the referential range of his fiction – but the above account has by no means exhausted the potential list of Rushdie's influences. Rushdie's reasons for practising such a referential artform may be explained in various ways; but certainly one of the central explanations must be that Rushdie writes in this way because he believes, and because he wishes to assert that he believes, that the act of authorial creation does not happen in a vacuum, is not the product of an inspired moment of original genius, but depends upon, indeed springs from, innumerable preceding acts of authorial (and artistic) creation effected by other writers, storytellers, artists and intellectuals. This chapter begins with a discussion of Barthes' theory of intertextuality and Rushdie's theory of influence, and then considers how postmodernism is useful to Rushdie.
If the reservoir of Rushdie's imaginative resources is substantially fed by stories drawn from the complex intertextual sea of world narrative, it is also generously topped up by events taken from his own biography and family history. This chapter discusses how Rushdie freely adapts autobiographical elements to suit the demands of a fiction that is more concerned to use elements of fantasy to dramatise the experience of pre- and post-colonial India than it is to offer a veracious account of his childhood.
This chapter focuses on two novels: Grimus and Midnight's Children. Scenarios borrowed from science fiction fantasy appear in several of Rushdie's novels. The science fictional imagination is at its strongest, however, in Rushdie's first published fiction, Grimus. Because Rushdie sees science fiction not as an end in itself, however, but as a springboard for the exploration of philosophical and political concepts, the novel may be described as a specific form of science fiction – a ‘speculative fiction’ – in which the alien qualities of ‘new worlds’ are used as a means of investigating and destabilising settled certainties concerning our own world. In Midnight's Children, Rushdie's concern to fictionalise an experience of recent Indian history suggests that his novel might potentially be considered as a form of historical fiction. The novel is preoccupied at the level of ideas by history and historicity, by the ways in which history is recorded, by the techniques with which a period is conjured and contained (or not contained), and by the ways in which the individual ‘historiographer’ understands (or misunderstands) his relationship with his material.
This chapter discusses the novel, Shame. The novel traces a fictionalised and heavily fantasised path through the rise to political power of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (who appears as Iskander Harappa); Bhutto's appointment of Zia ul-Haq (Raza Hyder) as his army chief of staff in 1976; Zia's deposition of Bhutto after the army was called in to quell street rioting in July 1977; the execution of Bhutto on the charge of ordering a political assassination; and the ‘Islamisation’ programme that Zia introduced once he had taken power in Pakistan. Shame was written at the height of this ‘Islamisation’ programme, and much of the bitter, brooding anger of the novel can be explained by this fact. The satire, however, is not directed at Zia alone, for his serious erosion of the civil rights of women and for his politicised misuse of Islam, but is directed also at Bhutto, who is held responsible for compromising the democratic process sufficiently to allow the military to regain power. Shame is thus a double satire on a pair of ‘conjoined opposites’ – the playboy and the puritan, the socialist democrat and the autocratic dictator – who are seen as two sides of the same coin: a Jekyll and Hyde of authoritarian politics.
This chapter discusses the novel The Satanic Verses. Like Midnight's Children and Shame before it, The Satanic Verses is a strongly satirical text that takes, as one of its dominant socio-political agendas, the condemnation of the abuse of power and authority. Unlike the two earlier novels, however, The Verses shifts its attention away from the abuses committed by South Asian political leaders towards the abuses that flourished under Margaret Thatcher's Prime Ministerial watch in 1980s Britain. Specifically, the novel, in its dominant narrative line, sets out to explore (or expose) the impact upon Britain's minority communities of lingering Falklands-era jingoism, and of systematic, institutionalised racism in organisations such as the police force and the media.