Salman Rushdie – Midnight’s Children (1981)

Saleem Sinai, born at midnight on March 15, 1947, the exact time of India’s independence, has (along with 1001 other children born between 12 and 1) magical powers. He uses telepathy to being to hold a conference with all the other children to solve the problems of the new India. He goes through exile in the jungle. Returns and witnesses the “cleansing” of the Jama Masjid slum outside Delhi. His magical powers disappear; he writes this narrative.

Good book to talk about historical fiction in the late twentieth century. He is actively writing himself into history–that is taking, taking up a position of agency in relation to a past that otherwise does not belong to him.

Think about in terms of Jameson’s allegory. Post-colonial literature still values community in which private and public are interpenetrated, even identical. Rushdie would say that this is because privacy is a privilege: it’s ridiculous to think of discreet individuals in India. This stands in contrast to “capitalist” literature that is fragmentary. This isn’t a claim for extra-capitalistic cohesion. Rather, allegory, for Jameson, is able to self-consciously have symbols (like Saleem’s dripping nose) that both dramatize their failure, but hold out cohesion nevertheless. They take on “Benjaminian” utopian functions.

Can also use Bakhtin to talk about the sheer proliferation of characters, magical realism, etc. Can talk about mapping in relation to Naipaul, etc.

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