Salmon Rushdie


In a world that is ready to criticize the slightest fault, or
impropriety of a person's character, or way of thinking,
authors, such as Salmon Rushdie, are continually under fire. In his
writings, Rushdie takes the aspects of typical every day life and
satirizes them in a way that enables his readers to realize how
nonsensical they may be. Through centuries of diverse writing and
literary changes, one thing remains the same: writers, no matter who
they are, or what their standing in society is, will be criticized.
Salmon Rushdie, although a modern writer, is faced with much criticism
that earlier writers also faced.
In June of 1947, in Bombay, India, a child was born. A child
who would grow up to become one of the most outspoken and
radical writers of this modern era. Born in a time of political unrest
(DISCovering), and a newly found freedom for India from British rule,
Rushdie would grow not to find freedom through his writings, but a deep
rooted criticism. Educated at The Cathedral Boys' School, and then
Cambridge, Rushdie had a refined learning experience. When Rushdie
started his career in writing he was unable to support himself and
therefore held jobs such as acting and copyrighting until he was able
to himself support as a writer.
Rushdie's first published book, Grimus, tells the story of an
American Indian who receives the gift of immortality and begins
an odessy to find the meaning of life. Initially this work attracted
the attention of the science fiction readers(DISCovering). The books
genre is very often disagreed upon by critics, and has been called a
fable, fantasy, political satire, and magical realism(DISCovering).
Being "an ambitious, strikingly confident first work(DISCovering),"
Rushdie was able to establish himself in the literary world as a
writer. In his second book, Rushdie turned back to his homeland to
find the subject that he wished to write about. Midnight's Children
chronicles the recent history of India, beginning in 1947 when the
country became free from British rule(DISCovering). In this allegorical
work, Rushdie uses the characters to represent hopes as well as the
frustrating realities of India's newly found freedom. Shame is
Rushdie's third book. In this work he presents an astonishing account
of events in an unnamed country that strongly resembles Pakistan. The
major theme in this work is shame verses honor. The Satanic Verses is
probably Rushdie's most popular and most controversial work. In this
ambiguous work, Rushdie explores the themes relating to good and evil,
religious faith and fanaticism, illusion verses reality, and the plight
of Indians who have relocated to Great Britain. Through extended dream
sequences, Rushdie is able to blur the distinction between reality and
imagination (DISCovering).
"What Salmon Rushdie stands for, is the right to secularism,
pluralism, freedom of expression, tolerance--values that I hope
we are all united in supporting (Sontag) ."
In every work of Rushdie's, there is meaning. He does not write
frivolously, but instead examines different afflictions that plague
today's society. Grimus had received both positive and negative
criticism, but was established as a great literary work and a
beneficial start to his writing career. Midnight's Children received
the 1981 Booker Bridge Award, which had placed Rushdie into the elite
of India's writing circle (Gunton 364). However, as one critic said,
"Midnight's Children is a brilliant piece of writing, But for a novel
it lacks direction and a point of focus (Gunton 367)." Rushdie's third
novel, Shame, was highly acclaimed, and was said, "to have done for
Pakistan, what Midnight's Children had done for India," which was to
show that the shameless culture of Pakistan was inflicting on the
personalities of individuals (DISCovering). Rushdie's most criticized
and controversial work, The Satanic Verses, received the Whitbread
prize in 1988, However, this award did not come without a cost. When
Rushdie published this work, he sent the Muslim religious leaders, as
well as Islamic scholars, into an uproar to the extent where a death
order was placed on Rushdie. Some Muslims claim that Rushdie violated
taboos by making irreverent references to people, places, and objects
sacred to Islam (DISCovering). "Whatever his accomplishments as a
novelist, Rushdie is completely at home in the genre of news feature
and editorial, and they are arguably the most confident and crafted
side of his work (MIT)."
If any of Rushdie's works should be included in an eleventh
grade syllabus it should be The Satanic Verses. Although this
work can be criticized as disrespectful and degrading to the Islamic
community, it is purely a remarkable example of freedom of expression.
In a society that tends to restrict young adults, and the expression of
young vigorous minds, it is important to demonstrate assertive literary
works. Rushdie also shows character and strength in the struggle that
he has gone through because of the people who opposed his work. This
element of Rushdie is very significant because it shows what courage is
all about, and how important it is to remain faithful to your own
personal beliefs. Besides the benefit of personal growth, eleventh
graders would also be reading an award winning literary work that is
rather unique in form and nature. And with Rushdie being a modern
writer, who is still living, it may be easier to understand where
Rushdie draws his ideas, and why he does so. The Satanic Verses is not
his only award winning book, or the only book of Rushdie's that is
unique and eloquent in form, However, it is the most expressionate in
personal beliefs, something that in today's English classes is
lacking. Going into the twenty-first century, the youth of today need
to express themselves to be great leaders of tomorrow. The Satanic
Verses is a good example of how one man expressed himself, an example
that should be followed.
Salmon Rushdie is not only a remarkable writer but also a
remarkable man. In his works and in his life he "refuses to be
terrorized (MIT)." Rushdie writes for the pure enjoyment of writing.
He is aware that not everyone will appreciate his works, but should
this prevent him from doing what he loves? Rushdie has set a good
example to follow. Each and every person should be able to say, " I am
not scared of you (MIT)," as Rushdie has done. Because if that can not
be done, then terrorism will continue to plague society. "The purpose
of terrorism is to terrorize. The only defense against terrorism is to
refuse to be terrorized (MIT)."

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