"Newness" and anti-absolutism in Salman Rushdie's novels: the aesthetics of postcolonial hybridity and postmodernism

  • Amrit Lal Biswas

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis analyzes the newness of ideas in Salman Rushdie’s narrative art in the following eight novels: Midnight’s Children, Shame, The Satanic Verses, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, The Moor’s Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Furyy and Shalimar the Clown. These novels are concerned with the experience of formerly colonized, still disadvantaged peoples, uprooted, disoriented by the fragmentary tendency of postmodernism and undergoing metamorphosis in their postcolonial migrant conditions, which Rushdie believes represent a “metaphor for humanity” (IH 394). From Rushdie’s point of view, humanity is exposed to the transformation which “comes of new and unexpected combinations of human beings, cultures, ideas, politics, movies, songs” (IH 394). Humanity rejoices in “mongrelization (hybridization), and fears the absolutism of the Pure” (IH 394). In narrating such a medley of human existence, Rushdie creates a new literary language and a form to convey his perspectives of this uncertain world within which human beings have to exist. The thesis is structured in eight chapters interposed between an introduction and a conclusion. For its pivotal significance in Rushdie’s oeuvre The Satanic Verses occupies the first chapter; the other chapters are arranged in chronological order to represent the sequence of publication of the remaining seven novels. Each novel is concerned with a distinctive mise en scene, characterized by its unique motif depicting Rushdie’s insights into the predicament of human existence in a world of indeterminacy adrift in the historic confluence of postcolonialism, postmodernism and neo-colonialism. Ideologically, the thesis deconstructs Rushdie’s view of the world of migrants who are confounded by the force of entrenched metaphysical myths of unreliable provenance. Such view naturally leads Rushdie to critique all forms of fundamentalism which represses the freedom of expression to challenge conventional beliefs
Date of Award2006
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Northampton
SupervisorJanet M Wilson (Supervisor)

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