Salman Rushdi: Using Magical Realism as a Post-Colonial Device

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Salman Rushdie is a meta-fiction writer, composing Midnight’s Children in a way that systematically draws attention to the fact that it’s a fictitious concoction questioning the relationship between fiction and reality. In Midnight’s Children, Rushdie uses historical events as reference points in the lives of his characters. Saleem Sinai’s life, and the lives of his familial predecessors, is defined by historical events. Beyond using historical events to denote the lives of his characters, Rushdie uses magical realism as a post-colonial device. He uses pastiche to keep the reader’s interest trained on the stories, referencing The Arabian Nights, among other works. Rushdie employs parody throughout the novel, molding history to his tastes, …show more content…
Rushdie’s fundamental use of magical realism is associated with the telepathic abilities of Saleem and the other “Midnight’s Children.” These abilities enable Saleem and the one thousand and one children to communicate with each other in Saleem’s mind, and for Saleem alone to read the minds of those around him.. This specific number- 1,001- is also key in The Arabian Nights, also known as One Thousand and One Nights. What happens in the text also parallels the magic in Arabian Nights, such as the attempt to electrocute Saleem at the latrine (406), and his journey in the “basket of invisibility” (436). In Midnight's Children, the narrative, albeit somewhat fictive, comprises Indian history. By using magical realism as a post-colonial device, Rushdie is drawing attention to relationship between the clearly magical, such as the children born close or exactly on the time of India’s independence having supernatural powers, and the clear facts, like India’s independence day of August 15th, 1947.
At one point in his narrative, Saleem is musing about the chthonic beings Radha and Krishna, characters from the epic Ramayana, and also the title characters from a classical Arabic story, Layla and Majnun. These are references to indigenous Indian culture. He then goes on to include Romeo and Juliet, Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn (297), all of whom are distinctly Western. This method chronologically entwines characters from Indian cultural history and

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