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Origin and Originality in Rushdie's Fiction

Martine Hennard Dutheil

Origin and Originality in Rushdie's Fiction explores the problematic question of origin in Salman Rushdie's fictional and non-fictional writings. The book is informed by the theoretical work of the post-colonial critics Edward Said and Homi Bhabha. It also draws on Jacques Derrida's insight that the quest for origins or foundations always reveals that things didn't happen the way they should have, which inevitably subverts common notions of identity, truth and presence. Martine Hennard Dutheil suggests that the consequences of the loss of origin are central to Rushdie's literary production as well as to his social and political thinking. Her study explores different aspects of the representation of origins, relating these to Rushdie's rewriting of both European and Islamic literary traditions, the construction and dramatization of the migrant condition, and the 'Rushdie affair', which involved distortions of the Qur'anic scripture and of authorial intentions. Through close readings, the book demonstrates that the loss of origin brings about a dismantling of the binary oppositions which structure the Western and the Islamic world-views. Rushdie's most provocative strategy is not so much his critique of Islam as his radical deconstruction of the metaphysics of presence common to both traditions. Beyond the controversial episodes, Rushdie's questioning of origin becomes the very condition of possibility for fiction writing.
Contents: Origin and Originality in Rushdie's Fiction explores the problematic question of origin in Salman Rushdie's fictional and non-fictional writings. Drawing on post-colonial theory, the book demonstrates through close readings that Rushdie's most provocative strategy is not so much his critique of Islam as his radical deconstruction of origin and related notions of identity, truth and presence.