Annotating Salman Rushdie: Reading the Postcolonial, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Annotating Salman Rushdie

Reading the Postcolonial, 1st Edition

By Vijay Mishra

Routledge India

366 pages

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pub: 2018-05-18
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How does one read a foundational postcolonial writer in English with declared Indian subcontinent roots?

This book looks at ways of reading, and uncovering and recovering meanings, in postcolonial writing in English through the works of Salman Rushdie. It uses textual criticism and applied literary theory to resurrect the underlying literary architecture of one of the world’s most controversial, celebrated and enigmatic authors. It sheds light upon key aspects of Rushdie’s craft and the literary influences that contribute to his celebrated hybridity. It analyses how Rushdie uses his exceptional mastery of European, Anglo-American, Indian, Arabic and Persian literary and cultural forms to cultivate a fresh register of English that expands Western literary traditions. It also investigates an archival modernism that characterizes the writings of Rushdie.

Drawing on the hitherto unexplored Rushdie Emory Archive, this book will be essential reading for students of literature, especially South Asian writing, postcolonial studies, cultural studies, linguistics and history.


‘Salman Rushdie’s remarkable novels are profuse and profligate in their use of literary references, mythological allusions, cinematic citations, private jokes, and public declamations. To all of this add his protean cultural archive, his multilingual voice, and insights on an infinitely expanding world. Vijay Mishra’s courageous and careful book delves deeply into Rushdie’s echo chamber of associations and annotations and provides us with a crucial study of the postcolonial text as figured through Rushdie’s creative genius.’

Homi K. Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities, Department of English, Harvard University, USA

‘No future commentator on Rushdie's works will dare not cite [this volume] … this super maha-bhashya … I must say that in this work [Vijay Mishra] has made the postcolonial do what no other postcolonial critic has the scholarly equipment to even dream of doing. This act is in a class by itself.’

Harish Trivedi, former Professor of English, University of Delhi, India

‘Calvino wrote, "What stirs literature is the call and attraction of what is not in the dictionary." Yet Vijay Mishra has produced no less than a dictionary of a great writer’s imagination, a combination OED and Hobson-Jobson of the private, pop-cultural, interlinguistic, and serendipitous connotations of Salman Rushdie’s wonderful word-universe. What a feast!’

Neil ten Kortenaar, Professor and Director, Centre for Comparative Literature, University of Toronto, Canada

‘Annotations and their uses are given a lucid examination, primarily in the development of four key novels of Salman Rushdie. The cryptic, the post-colonial, the hybrid and the love and play of words are deciphered in expert fashion, while inviting us to re-read and annotate Rushdie for ourselves. Vijay Mishra is no less than masterful in this respect.’

Rajinder Dudrah, Professor of Cultural Studies and Creative Industries, Birmingham School of Media, Birmingham City University, UK

Table of Contents



Introduction: Scribes Scholars and Annotations

Part I Annotating Salman Rushdie

Part II Rushdie Annotations: The Classic Corpus

Select Bibliography


About the Author

Vijay Mishra is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia. He has two doctorates, the first in Medieval Indian Poetry and Aesthetics from the Australian National University, and the second in Eighteenth-Century English Literature from Oxford University. Between 2010 and 2015 he was an Australian Research Council Professorial Fellow. In 2017 he was awarded another Australian Research Council Discovery Grant to write a book on V. S. Naipaul based on the University of Tulsa Naipaul Archive. At various times he has been Professor of English Literature, University of Alberta, Canada; Senior Fellow, University of Wales; Professorial Fellow, University of California Santa Cruz; Robert Evans Fellow, University of Otago; Visiting Professor of English, Universität des Saarlandes; Professorial Fellow, Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University; Christensen Professorial Fellow, St Catherine’s College, Oxford; and Erich Auerbach Professor of Global Literary Studies, University of Tübingen. Fluent in English, Hindi, Fijian and Fiji Hindi, he reads Sanskrit, Old and Middle English, French and German. He has been the Chair of the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards and of the S. E. Asian and Australasian Section of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Among his major book publications areDark Side of the Dream: Australian Literature and the Postcolonial Mind (1991, with Bob Hodge); The Gothic Sublime (1994); Devotional Poetics and the Indian Sublime (1998); Bollywood Cinema: Temples of Desire (2002); The Literature of the Indian Diaspora: Theorizing the Diasporic Imaginary (2007); and What Was Multiculturalism? A Critical Retrospective (2012). He is a Fellow of the Australian Humanities Academy (FAHA).

About the Series

Literary Cultures of the Global South

Recent years have seen challenging new formulations of the flows of influence in transnational cultural configurations and developments. In the wake of the end of the Cold War, the notion of the ‘Global South’ has arguably succeeded the demise of the tripartite conceptual division of the First, Second and Third Worlds. This notion is a flexible one referring to the developing nations of the once-colonized sections of the globe. The concept does not merely indicate shifts in geopolitics and in the respective affiliations of nations, and the economic transformations that have occurred, but also registers an emergent perception of a new set of relationships between nations of the Global South as their respective connections to nations of the north (either USA/USSR or the old colonial powers) diminish in significance. New social and cultural connections have become evident. This book series explores the literary manifestations (in their often intermedial, networked forms) of those south–south cultural connections together with academic leaders from those societies and cultures concerned.

The ‘Global South’ as an analytical term functions, in John Comaroff’s turn of phrase, as a ‘shifter’, taking on different inflections in varying disciplinary contexts — as a mere geographical descriptor, denoting a network of geopolitical regions, primarily in the southern hemisphere, with a common history of colonization; driven by processes of transformation (the Global South has and continues to be the site of an ongoing neo-colonial economic legacy as also of a number of emergent global economies such as India, China, Brazil and South Africa); as an index of a condition of economic and social precarity which, though primarily manifest in the ‘global south’, is also increasingly visible in the North (thus producing a ‘global south’); and, finally, as a utopian marker, signifying a fabric of economic exchanges that are beginning to bypass the Northern economies, and, gradually, a framework for political cooperations, especially from ‘below’ (Sandbrook, Prashad) which may offer alternatives to the hitherto hegemony of the Euro-American ‘North’.

Literary cultures are a particularly pregnant site of south–south cultural analysis as they represent the intersection of traditional and modern cultural forms, of south–south (and north–south) cultural exchange, particularly via modes of translation and interlingual hybridization, and refract various discourses of knowledge in a highly self-reflexive and critical fashion, thereby demanding and enabling an interdisciplinary dialogue with literary studies at its core. Hallowed connections between literary production and the postcolonial nation notwithstanding, transnational south–south literary connections have usually marked the (anti-)colonial, postcolonial and indeed contemporary digital epochs. Thus, literary cultures form one of the central historical and contemporary networked sites of intercultural self-articulation in the Global South. 

This series intervenes in the process and pre-empts the sort of bland institutionalization which has forestalled much of the intellectual force of postcolonial studies or the more recent world literature studies. It proposes wide-ranging interventions into the study of the literary cultures of the Global South that will establish an innovative paradigm for literary studies on the disciplinary terrain up until now occupied by the increasingly problematized areas of postcolonial studies or non-European national literary studies.

This series contributes to the re-writing of cultural and literary history in the specific domain of the literary cultures of the Global South. It attempts to fill in the many gaps left by Euro-American-dominated but ultimately ‘provincial’ Northern cultural histories. The study of the literary cultures of the Global South ‘swivels’ the axis of literary interrelations from the colonizer–colonized interface which, for instance, has preoccupied postcolonial literary studies since its inception (and which inevitably informed the ‘national’ compartmentalization of postcolonial literary study even when it averted its gaze from the colonizer), to a set of ‘lateral’ relationships which have always existed but until now largely ignored — and which, in an age of digital communication and online cultural production have begun to emerge, once again, into their properly prominent position.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 20th Century
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies