About the BookMidnight’s Children, the second novel of Salman Rushdie, was published in 1981. In this epical novel he speaks of many Indians and many versions of reality. High seriousness of the elderly writers, like Raja Rao or R.K. Narayan, is replaced in his fiction by playfulness, comicality and triviality. Midnight’s Children remains an Indian novel in the sense that the author delves deep into Indian psyche and unearths rich ore of ancient indigenous resources like epic, folklore, oral myth and rituals which till date inform the mind and belief system of the millions in a substantial way. To know the mind of the subcontinent one should know the archetypal mythical figure of Ganesh and his large elephantine nose and ears. The urge for largeness or bigness exemplifies one Indian ‘disease’, a desire for the whole. The narrator hero of the novel Midnight’s Children, Saleem Sinai suffers from this Indian disease and proclaims, ‘To understand just one life, you have to swallow the world’.
Midnight’s Children remains an impure text because the protagonists are of illegitimate birth and Saleem has four fathers and three mothers in a fairy-tale fashion. Though a post-modern text, the hero Saleem does not suffer from alienation nor does he feel an exile in a society of teeming millions who jostle in and around him. Alienated self is an absurdity in an Indian context where a sensitive soul can’t afford exilic status vis à-vis abundance, multiplicity, plurality, diverse customs and mores which exercise a magnetic spell on his mind.
After Rushdie, Indian fiction is not what it was. Midnight’s Children remains a classic of post-colonial Indian writing, a novel of novels.
The present book is a modest attempt at understanding the mind and art of Salman Rushdie, with particular reference to his Midnight’s Children. Written in a textbook form, it provides a detailed critical analysis of its major themes, issues, characterization, narrative techniques, style and symbols. Besides, it makes a critical study of the reception of the novel. The model questions included herein will facilitate the quick revision of the entire study. Bibliography and Index will prove useful study-aids in pursuing the study further and easily.
Since the novel is prescribed in the English syllabus in the universities of India, both the teachers and the students will find this book extremely useful.About the Author/sPradip Kumar Dey, Professor of English, is a distinguished member of the University of Burdwan. He headed the Department for two years and did a commendable job in modernizing the syllabus. Before joining Burdwan University in 2003 he was Reader and Head, Department of English, Tripura University, Agartala, where also he had distinguished himself as a scholar, teacher and administrator. He has a large number of publications to his credit. Of these his book, Eugene O’Neill: A Study of His Tragic Vision and the research paper “Shame and Midnight’s Children: A Postcolonial Critique” published in Salman Rushdie: Critical Essays, Vol. 1 (APD: New Delhi, 2002) deserve special mention. The study materials prepared by him for M.A. English for the Correspondence Courses of the University of Burdwan also evince his profound scholarship and fine critical insight. He has written a number of research papers published in various scholarly journals. He is currently interested in the study of Indian English literature.