The Wink of the Simurg (in progress)

Preface & Contents

Preface

This section of ryc.space is a critical study focusing on Salman Rushdie's early novels. Much of the material is reworked from my Ph.D thesis (UBC 1996) and from my book Stranger Gods (McGill-Queen's 2001). I'm still in the process of simplifying the language, adding graphic elements, increasing the coverage of his later (21st century) novels, and adding 'plot boxes' to jog my reader's memory. I cover the novels chronologically, so the 'plot boxes' are in sequential order. 

In this study I focus on Rushdie's use of cosmology, mythology, and mysticism -- what I call otherworldy paradigms. Examples of these include cosmic settings such as Purgatory or Eden, mythic figures such as djinns or Odin, and mystical situations such as the flight of Attar's thirty birds to Mount Qaf or the union of Shiva and Parvati on Mount Kailasa. I argue that Rushdie uses such paradigms not so much in a consistent way, but with a consistent aim. He may respect paradigms or turn them on their heads; they make clash or they may fuse. Yet his aim is almost always the same: to promote a creative, open, secular, iconoclastic, democratic, liberal, humanist view of the world.

CONTENTS

Timeline A: 2500 BC - 1300 AD Timeline B: 1300 BC - 2020 AD 

Plot Boxes & Maps Bibliography 

Introductions

❧ An Inaccessible Circumference - Other Worlds - Cosmology, Mythology, & Mysticism in the Sundarbans - Fusion & Clash

❧ The Rise of the Simurg - The Huge Scenic Background - Attar's Valley - 4 Points - GrimusSimurg with the Letters All Mixed Up

❧ The Return of the Simurg - The Simurg Eclipsed - The Simurg Returns

❧ Four Points - Secularism - The Road to Hell - A Noticeable Shift - A Disturbing Conflation

❧ When Worlds Collide - Iconoclasm - Doubt & Belief - Spiritual Flight  

❧ Disruptions of the Sacred - Hierophanies - Polysymbolism - Hinduism & Daoism

Grimus

Introduction - Multiple Journeys - Attar's Qaf

Beginnings - The Chameleon Flies the Coop — Virgil & Eliot — Iconoclastic Initiations

Midnight's Children

Introduction: History & Myth - A Different Type of Novel - Racing Against Time - Family Lines & Mythic Cycles

❧ The Road from Kashmir - Attar & the Loss of Eden - Plot Box: An Anxious Saleem Writes about his Grandfather's Return to Kashmir - Plot Box: Attar's Journey & Midnight's Children - Mystical Gems

❧ Amina & the Silver Spittoon - Plot Box: Amina & Nadir - Lapis Lazuli and the Free Islam Conference - Amina & the Monsters -

Shame

 The Layers Beneath - Repression & Revolt - The Double-bill of Mahmoud’s Destruction - Covering Up History- Cosmic Horror - Omar & the Weird Sisters - ❧ 

The Satanic Verses  

Haroun and the Sea of Stories