Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Delores B. Phillips
This investigative study is informed by Ursula Kluwick’s contention that Salman Rushdie’s novels – Midnight’s Children and Shame – written within the postcolonial context, need to be approached and conceptualized differently from the magical realist fiction produced by Latin American novelists such as Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, and Laura Esquivel due to the fact that the relations between the realistic and magical/supernatural codes in Rushdie’s texts are not harmonious and are, for the most part, antithetical in ways that manifest and highlight the friction between the twin codes, which render them ‘contingent’ and ‘provisional,’ but beyond that destabilize the narrative text as fictional versus realistic. As Kluwick notes with respect to Rushdie’s works, “Definitions of magic realism as a harmonious combination of supernatural and realist representational codes ignore the productive tension created by epistemological incompatibilities and clashes.” (202)
What has set my study apart from Kluwick’s approach, however, is my contention that Rushdie’s texts evince other salient features such as ‘spatialization’ and ‘metanarration’ that are inextricably intertwined and work in tandem with the magical realist elements in his fiction by creating highly political and ostentatiously self-conscious possible histories which aim at critiquing the actual socio-political geography and politico-historical trajectory of the Indian subcontinent. As such, throughout this study I have argued that Rushdie’s texts of historiographic metafiction need to be studied through a multipronged approach that not only analyzes their magical-realist recreation of the politico-historical trajectory of India-Pakistan’s postcolonial history through the lens of Dolezel’s four-dimensional system of possible worlds theory, but also uses that theory to analyze their seminal ‘spatialization’ and ‘metanarration’ features, which distinguish his works from other magical realist authors and are instrumental to Rushdie’s critical engagement with the politics of India-Pakistan. As such, I have endeavored to make the case that a multipronged approach, which analyzes the ‘magical realism,’ ‘spatialization’ and ‘meta-narration’ components in Rushdie’s texts is warranted to critique the multidimensional possible worlds/histories that are narrativized, spatialized and foregrounded with the insertion of meta-narratorial comments and episodic interventions.
"An Examination of the Key Features of Salman Rushdie’s Historiographic Metafiction: A Possible Worlds Theory Approach"
(2018). Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), dissertation, English, Old Dominion University, DOI: 10.25777/4r20-kh57