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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The satanic verses and the occidentalism of Salman Rushdie Sobhan, Zafar


This paper is an inquiry into the critical tenability of the positioning of Salman Rushdie as brown sahib and the coincident reading of The Satanic Verses as an Orientalist attack on Islam. The paper opens with an exposition of Rushdie's thematic preoccupation with the identity of the Westernized Indian and of how ideas from his earlier writing are developed into a reappraisal and repositioning of this identity in the novel. Rushdie's presentation of these themes and his., depiction of London and its British Indian community, demonstrates that he does not identify with the colonial culture and that the positioning of him as brown sahib is untenable. The reading of the novel as Orientalist is dependent on the identification of Rushdie with the West. Having established that the positioning of Rushdie as brown sahib is invalid, the paper proceeds to dismantle the reading of the novel as Orientalist which takes such a positioning as its basic premise. Having dismantled the framework of Orientalism within which the novel is understood, the paper then demonstrates how such a positioning of Rushdie and the discrediting of The Satanic Verses as an Orientalist attack on Islam can be understood as a rhetorical device constructed to subvert Rushdie's authority and to obscure the actual critique of Islam that is offered in the novel.

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