Archive for September, 2021

Imaginary Homelands in Rushdie’s Mind

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

Colonial-era caused exile, diaspora, and forced migration. Nevertheless, the memory of the relocated is reconstituted because of replacement. Humans leave their physical homelands; however, their memory probably freezes mentally at the very moment of their migration. The scattering of the migrated is the reason for the lasting alienation resulting from mental incompatibility. People’s relocation causes the inconsistent and fragmented cognition that what is bygone is no longer bygone. The cognition leads what has passed still dwelled and fermented in their deepest minds. The inconsistent cognition forms their past rather nostalgic than imaginary. Rushdie’s Imaginary Homelands shows his feeling of being in exile is nostalgic and unforgettable. Rushdie’s nostalgia represents his imaginary homelands that exist nowhere, but in his illusions of memory because the diaspora triggers nostalgia that is inherited from the memory of the past, which merely exists mentally but not physically.

Rushdie draws memory of the past as the bursting bubbles which seem so near, but yet far. The narratives of nostalgia, blurriness, and fragments are fulfilled with Rushdie’s books. The glacial pacing of his novel, Midnight’s Children, with an abundance of everything thrown at the reader in an incoherent and scattered way is unreal and mythical. As Rushdie says, if a conflict arose between literal and remembered truth, he would favor the remembered version in his writing. In Rushdie’s view, history is ambiguous, but memory can capture the essence of the plot. In this sense, the protagonist, Saleem, in Midnight’s Children makes several errors that reflect Rushdie’s erroneous memory. In his mind, truth or wrongness matters not much; the reconstructed memory matters his sketching, narrative, and plot, which weave his story in a state of ambiguity and vagueness. The ambiguity triggers disconnectedness because his remembrance is based on imagination rather than fact. Accordingly, it is an interesting phenomenon in his novels, particularly in plots elected by his remembered truth even if though it is not true.

His memory mingles the colonial past and the postcolonial present so that physical displacement entails confusion between the imagination and fact. Thus, the unreliable narrators in Midnight’s Children omit fact, so that the memory is not the true reflection of the past instead of the reshaping of threads of what has gone before. In this sense, the physical displacement combined with ex-colonial memory has difficulty in resilience to the gap between fact and illusion. The gap illustrates puzzles and myths that bring readers in a shuffle and confuses them with what is true or not.

The phenomenon of Imaginary Homelands in Rushdie’s mind prevails an interesting phenomenon that triggers nostalgia dwelling in minds with disconnectedness and incompatibility. The incompatibility brings mystery and enchantment which is peculiar to postcolonial literature.


Cheng-Fen Wang