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Nation and Narration: A study of Midnight`s Children

Author(s): BILAL A SHAH

Journal: ThirdFront : Journal of Humanities and Social Science
ISSN 2320-9631

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 74;
Date: 2013;
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Keywords: Salman Rushdie | Nation | Narration | Midnight's Children | India | Partition

Ever since the advent of novel in the mid-nineteenth century colonial India, Indian writers have been re-appropriating official versions of history to serve their own purposes. The Indian novel has had a role in the anti-colonial struggle as well as a role in forging an Indian national identity and an independent nation, its narrative vision shaping the ideal, and its language and discourse bodying forth the forms of nation. In the postcolonial period, with the crisis of the neo-colonial nation-state, the Indian novelist has both old tasks and new. Without denying historical necessity, Midnight’s Children re-conceptualized the dichotomy between personal and national identity in a way that made a new kind of social engagement possible. Rather than merely forcing the self into the image of the nation, Rushdie comically and mock- heroically insists on creating the Nation in the imaginative image of the self. Thus, Rushdie’s novel is an allegory but not of the nation as that might be imagined to exist outside the world of texts, but of the nation as already mediated by the “pretext” of national history. It is an allegory where the individual’s life and history are offered in a sustained parallel. While male discursive dismembering symbolizes national rupture, the representation of women as parts in both fictional and filmic discourse provides an occasion for imagining wholeness. But although she is a symbol of wholeness, her own integrity remains secondary. When the whole is assembled it turns out to be a very different from the sum of its parts. Reading Rushdie against Bombay cinema reveals gender as a trope in the narrative imagining of nation. This analysis reveals how all narratives imaginings of nation collude in the engendering of nation as male through their representation of the female body.

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