A Firebird's Nest

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Myths and cultural past of India has been a favourite choice of Salman Rushdie partly because he has a tenuous link with his land which gives tremendous leaps to his thoughts and fancy and partly because India asa major literary subject helps him win the favour of his western audience by catering to their devious curiosity about Indian ethos. As a literary strategy he mixes the fiction of his mind with the material picked up from the past for for giving such an account of life as may both relevant and revealing to the contemporary reader. In other words,his linking of the mythical or cultural past with the living present makes his writing a mythocentric historiographic metafiction. The Firebird’s Nest is one of Rushdie’s recent short stories published in the eight volume of New Writings (1999), an anthology of the best in contemporary literature. Conceived in the mythical image of the Phoenix,as the title reflects,and the Ovidian terms of metamorphosis, as the epigraph reads,this story explores the mythical,hystorical,economic and socio-cultural facets of contemporary life through two dominant metaphors,rain and fire. Rushdie has chosen these metaphors for their elemental nature that lends them infinite association with the collective unconscious nature of human race. The story opens with a description of drought which has engulfed the entire domain of princely state (rains have successively failed its thick forests and singing birds) and has turned into a dying place,a wasteland, forcing both man and animal to migrate and seek water, the life giving element. Staggering cattle move to the south and east while the Prince,now only Mr. Maharaj after the abolition of stately privileges,moves to America in search of good fortune. The story progresses with the return of Mr. Maharaj with this American bride in a limousine driving to his crumbling palace now six hundred year old,a virtual ruin of a gothic novel. She has been described as a “rich” and “fertile land”...
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