UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The im(proper) name of Salman Rushdie : hybridity, migrancy, and the Rushdie persona Eikenaar, Jannik Haruo


Salman Rushdie’s fiction is often celebrated for challenging colonial and postcolonial systems of power and representation, in part through inscriptions of marginalized subject positions that subvert normative assumptions about identity. Our understandings of those subject positions are influenced by the Rushdie persona, a cultural presence that is part author function, part literary celebrity, part writer / thinker in the contemporary marketplace, and part living body under threat. An idea in excess of Rushdie’s lived experience and not entirely within his control, this persona occupies a position of social and material privilege and is regularly attributed qualities that position it as an exemplary authority on how to survive and succeed as a hybrid subject and migrant citizen. As a result, the persona exerts a limiting influence on the reading of Rushdie’s hybrid and migrant protagonists by often rendering them as consistent with, rather than subversive of, the values of the dominant West. This project clarifies the effects of the Rushdie persona by theorizing its dominant qualities and conditions of production, and by analyzing the interplay between the persona and the protagonists of Rushdie’s recent novels, memoir, and film: Shalimar the Clown, The Enchantress of Florence, Joseph Anton: A Memoir, and the screen version of Midnight’s Children. I argue the persona increasingly reduces the subversive potential of Rushdie’s work, particularly with regard to the themes of hybridity and migrancy. However, there is still room to read against the persona’s influence by occupying a critical position modelled by the filmic adaptation of Midnight’s Children and within this dissertation – a position that requires an open-minded, skeptical encounter with the Rushdie persona.

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Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada