Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children Essay

4083 Words 17 Pages
Salman Rushdie’s ‘Midnight’s Children’

1 Introduction This paper will try to show how Salman Rushdie uses narrative technique, genre and the concept of history in a very new way in Midnight’s Children in order to place his story outside the euro-centric tradition of literature, narrative and history. These traditions, appearing in the colonial period, have constructed a notion of universalism in literature where the ‘classics’ of the western canon have set the order of the day (Ashcroft 91-92). Additionally, history has been written with Europe as the subject of all interpretations of history (be they Whig, Tory, Marxist, etc.), thus constructing a master narrative which Chakrabarty calls ‘the history of Europe’, where
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Finally, I will look at the theory of history presented in the novel to show how Rushdie tries to break the binary of Euro-centrism. Chakrabarty describes this type of history as the appropriation of ‘the antihistorical devices of memory’ by Indian history in order to represent ‘the antihistorical “histories” of the subaltern classes’ (Chakrabarty 384); antihistorical in the sense these devices are not concerned with the ‘great’ events and battles of traditional history, but rather history of the individual. Thus Rushdie provides a voice for the marginalised and the subaltern, not just subaltern classes, but the subaltern individual.

The style of the novel I will begin with a linguistic and stylistic analysis of the first paragraph of the book in order to show how Rushdie mixes different kinds of style and language to create a narrative very different from traditional Western books. From the beginning Rushdie places the narrative within the oral tradition by constantly arguing with himself about how to tell the story. He uses typical colloquialisms e.g. ‘No, that won’t do’, ‘Well then’, ending a sentence with ‘as a matter of fact’ and beginning another with ‘and’; one sentence is never completed, again typical of the colloquial style: ‘it’s important to be more ...’. He also, in the very first line, uses the all familiar ‘once upon a time’, which epitomises the oral tradition of folk-tales, yet he immediately opposes this tradition by giving us
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