Colonial Enchanter: Postcolonial Enchantress

Topics: Salman Rushdie, Colonialism, Postcolonial literature Pages: 7 (2282 words) Published: June 30, 2011
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Janmejay Kumar Tiwari Research Scholar Department of English & MEL University of Allahabad, Allahabad Colonial Enchanter: Postcolonial Enchantress Postcolonialism is a relation of centre and margin, oppressor and oppressed, colonizer and colonized or in the words of Aime Cesaire “relations of domination and submission.‟‟ Postcolonialism is largely concerned with the politics of culture and postcolonial studies “involves the critical examination of European representations of colonial peoples and the production of counter discourse designed to resist the continued encroachment of European/ American cultures on former colonies‟‟ (Quinn 254). The aim of postcolonialism is to overturn the colonial mind-set and decolonize the colonized psychologically. “Colonization involved colonizing the mind, then resistance to it, requires in Ngugi‟s phrase “decolonizing the mind”. (McLeod 22) Though the political decolonization started with the declaration of American independence in 1776, the latter half of the twentieth century witnessed political decolonization in abundance. British Empire empowered its erstwhile colonies but decolonization never comes just from signing of a declaration of independence. Postcolonial literatures are actively engaged in decolonizing the mind and ultimate purpose of postcolonial writing is as Boehmer states: …the quest for personal and racial/cultural identity built on the spiritual guardianship of traditional laws; the belief that writing is an integral part of

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self-definition; the emphasis on historical reconstruction; the ethical imperative of reconciliation with the past. (Boehmer 221) The aim of the colonizers, since the establishment of empire, was to transform the others like themselves not physically but mentally as Lord Macaulay emphasized in his 1935 Minute. Salman Rushdie echoes the same feature in his latest novel The Enchantress of Florence: We will take your finest off-spring from you and we will transform them utterly. We will make them forget you and turn them into the force that keeps you under the heel. (179) Rushdie‟s latest novel The Enchantress of Florence, published after seven years‟ research, has raised a storm of controversy. Commenting on this offering of Rushdie, Michael Dirda says: Set during the 16th century The Enchantress of Florence is altogether ramshackle as novel, oddly structured, blithely mixing history and legend and distinctly minor compared to such masterworks as The Moor’s Last Sigh and Midnight’s Children – and it is not a novel at all. It is a romance and only a dry hearted critic would dwell on the flaws in so delightful an homage, to Renaissance magic and wonder. (Dirda) Rushdie never keep an eye on a single theme. Rushdie‟s readers open his novel with a neutral mind, without any prejudiced philosophies as to what he would treasure in the novel. Amusingly enough the eponymous enchantress forms only one half of the novel while the other half is dedicated to the enigmatic stranger Mogor dell‟ Amore, a golden haired visitor to the court of Akbar. Mogor has a story to tell, the recounting of which is overdue until

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about three fourths of the novel is over. Moreover, his story is about the dark eyed dark haired Mughal princess, who held Renaissance Florence enthral. The colonial state of affairs can be seen as the accomplishment of the white European male over non-white races. It is often said that the colonizer, the white man appropriated for himself the virtues of rationality, power, scientific temper, masculinity, and relegated the subject races to the opposite–irrational, ignorant, superstitious effeminate etc. In The Enchantress of Florence, Mogor dell Amore could be viewed as representing the white colonialist. History records that small groups of white men landed on the shores of the teeming non-white nations viz India, Africa or Latin American countries and in a short while managed to subjugate these teeming millions....
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