Fiction as Fission: Salman Rushdie's Aesthetics of Fragmentation and Hybridity

Hassan Ben-Deggoun (University of Poitiers, France)

Rushdie's fiction is governed by a profound sense of fragmentation that serves the writer's vision of the world as a discontinuous phenomenon. It is thought within the postcolonial and postmodern conditions. Indeed, the experience of migration provides the text with a subtle background for a better understanding of the concepts of displacement, hybridity and metamorphosis. The postcolonial subject, and by extension the postmodern individual, are decentred beings who cannot therefore develop a full vision of reality. Consequently, everything becomes fragmentary. The creation of a new order is possible only through a process of (de)construction and differAnce.

The literary text is turned into a dynamic space where vividly contradictory viewpoints are juxtaposed, a mishmash of conflicting genres and modes, the comic and the tragic, the sacred and the profane, the real and the fictionalŠ

Characters, narrative, time, space and language are thought in a way that blurs the reader's vision and partakes of aesthetics of 'estrangement'. The intertextual (Bakhtin's dialogism) aspect of Rushdie's texts deepens this complexity, and transforms textuality into a 'fabric/texture' made of many other texts.

The Satanic Verses is the perfect example of the post-modern trend to differ meaning (Derrida), and to create an atmosphere of 'defamiliarisation'. The metamorphoses of Saladin (devil) and Gibreel (angel) are but that of the text itself. In fine, hybridity allows us to think the art of the novel as a space of multiplicity, freedom and creativity, far from dogmatism and fanaticism. But what are the ethical implications of such hybridity as far as the reception of texts is concerned?


Postcolonial OV discourseov Casablanca Conference

Last modified: 7 May 2001