Haroun and the sea of stories essays

But there's more life ahead. Mortal stakes indeed. Milton's was a world that contained the Index Expurgatorius and the Inquisition, as Rushdie's contained and still contains the Ayatollah Khomeini's death sentence. Books were burned; so, sometimes, were people. They were also hanged, drawn, and quartered. And though in Milton could write in safety, and hope and for a time believe that Cromwell's armies would lead the way to a "knowing people" of prophets and sages, even Cromwell would be unable to impose full religious toleration, and in sixteen years the knowing people would call back the king and it would be at the risk of his life that Milton would publish his last pamphlet written to advance the public good.

A year later Andrew Marvell , rather than writing about oceans and gardens, would be exerting his influence to save his former employer's head. Other similarities are floating out there; if we drift further we will bump into them. Generic barriers seem to dissolve when the subject is freedom, and the emotion a devotion to the book that amounts to passion. It is a powerful force indeed that draws such separate entities into a shared imagery of cold, of ice, of frozen stasis.

Rushdie's Sea is warm and full, brimming with life. The Prince of Silence's realm is "an ice-wilderness on which the sun never shines. Ice is what came to Milton's mind in as he contemplated the "obedient unanimity," the "gross conforming stupidity," the "dull ease and cessation of our knowledge" to be anticipated from a safely licensed press. England would be locked in as "staunch and solid [a] piece of framework, as any January could freeze together," "a stark and dead congealment … forced and frozen together," "triple ice clung about our hearts.

Darkness and frozen conformity; warmth and liquidity and light. Flowers, too; the surface of Rushdie's Sea is alive with water-gardens, imported from the floating gardens of Kashmir. We might almost imagine that Rushdie was deliberately exploring the narrative dimensions of Milton's metaphor, if the contrast were not so natural and common.

Nature sets life against death, flowers against a January freeze; writers follow. But there is more shared here than this familiar contrast. The imagery of nature does not provide cities, yet Areopagitica is as metropolitan as Haroun.

Rushdie is a city boy, as he told Fenton, his "interest in the world … entirely urban," his life spent almost entirely in "gigantic cities. The city as reality and as metaphor is at the heart of all my work. From the glum city, the boy and his father dream-travel to a city "all excitement and activity," noisy with "non-stop conversation and debate," where plans are "itemized, scrutinized, rationalized, mulled over, chewed over, made much of, made little of, and even, after interminable wrangling, agreed," where the king is named Chattergy and the parliament The Chatterbox, where the army wars against Silence and is made up of Pages organized into Chapters and Volumes under a General Kitab whose name means Book.

And Milton too was a city boy and a Londoner, born in London, moving from house to house there, buried there, traveling, when he traveled, not to rural beauty, but to the Italian cities which had produced so much of the literature that formed him, whose language he spoke and wrote, whose Renaissance humanism we call civic. In Areopagitica the title itself an evocation of the Athenian civic center what he recalls from his Grand Tour are not the leaves of Vallombrosa but his months in Naples and Rome and Florence.

It was in Florence, walking up from the Duomo, that he "visited the famous Galileo, grown old, a prisoner to the Inquisition for thinking in astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican licencers thought. In Paradise Lost he will write differently, in populous city pent, compassed round with darkness and dangers and Restoration riot, true liberty lost with paradise though he hasn't left London. But this is , not Parliament's armies are fighting the King's, and winning, and London is the revolutionary center.

Behold now this vast city, a city of refuge, the mansion house of liberty…. The shop of war hath not there more anvils and hammers waking, to fashion out the plates and instruments of armed justice in defence of beleaguered Truth, than there be pens and heads there, sitting by their studious lamps, musing, searching, revolving new notions and ideas …, others as fast reading, trying all things, assenting to the force of reason and convincement. The busy hum of revolutionary London is not so far from Gup. Christopher Hill describes the "fantastic outpouring of pamphlets" that followed the lifting of censorship in the s, "pamphlets on every subject under the sun, an average of three a day for twenty years, especially between and Angelo" the papal prison "of an Imprimatur.

The word alone is enough to set Milton's imagination playing. As it did in the Guppee army, its Volumes "each headed by a Front, or Title, Page," print in Areopagitica comes to visible life. Contemplating an Italian title page, Milton sees a cityscape, a "piazza," in which no less than five priestly Imprimaturs, "shaven reverences," are "seen together, dialoguewise, complimenting and ducking each to other" while the unfortunate author stands by wondering if he is to publish or perish.

And Milton is not done with these Imprimaturs, "that let pass nothing but what is vulgarly received already. They were right to do so, but for the wrong reasons. Milton knows the right one: English, "the language of men ever famous and foremost in the achievements of liberty, will not easily find servile letters enough" to spell Imprimatur. For true book-lovers, the very letters have vitality. Rushdie's book begins in the country of Alifbay, which is, being interpreted, the land of Alphabet.

If the city provides terms in which to evoke the exhilaration of freedom, there are, I think, profounder reasons than city sound and bustle. It is in cities that words are most valued, that books are printed and distributed, that they are, overwhelmingly, bought, read, and talked about.

It is to cities and universities, which are themselves small cities that we go for the excitement and variety of intellectual exchange, for the marvelous chatter that sends the mind on from one challenge to another. It is in the city that languages and dialects intermingle, that people crowd and irritate each other into the possibility of change.

It is the city that provides the kind of experience that leads Rushdie to quote Edmund Burke 's "Our antagonist is our helper," and Milton to write that "that which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary. When the talkative Guppee army mobilized against the Cultmaster of Dumbness and Muteness, the Foe of Speech, Haroun and his father wondered about its chances, given its habit of arguing "over every little detail" and debating the pros and cons of every order.

They needn't have. Debates and arguments and openness have brought them together, while Khattam-Shud's forces of Silence, disunited, suspicious, and treacherous, mutiny, hide, desert, and lose the battle. Milton in would not have been surprised. It was in the same faith that he exulted that the city of London, "besieged and blocked about" by the King's forces, "her navigable river infested, inroads and incursions round," was still full of people "disputing, reasoning, reading, inventing, discoursing, even to a rarity and admiration, things not before discoursed or written of.

But this marshalling of kindred metaphors is making me uncomfortable. It begins to sound too much like argument, reluctant homage to the exigencies of Compare and Contrast. Argument here risks tenden- tiousness, suggests that there is more ice and city in Areopagitica than can actually be found. Argument obscures differences that at another time we might want to remember—as, for instance, the difference between Rushdie's kind of play and Milton's, between rollicking, proliferating humor and controlled polemic sarcasm.

This is still a very odd couple. But I will argue still that what floats them together is more significant than what divides them. It is more than a commonalty of imagery, occasional or pervasive. Deeper than any particulars of language is the mood out of which such tropes arise, the mood of exhilaration, of energy, of activity, of hope. I have called it an ethical mood, shying away from the ubiquitous adjective "political. It is political because it is profoundly, confidently ethical, in that it intends, in Milton's words, to advance the public good.

It evokes much more than the personal importance to two brilliant writers of their freedom to publish. It is true, certainly, that no one ever found Milton inattentive to his own personal agenda; only recently he had been condemned in a sermon before Parliament for the publication, unlicensed, of his Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. But though energy may come from a sense of personal grievance, a feeling from which Milton seems to have been rarely free, exhilaration will not.

Exhilaration looks forward, not back. The ethical mood of Haroun and Areopagitica is enabled by its confidence a word which shares its root with "faith" , confidence in variety, possibility, in the uncertainties and surprises of a shared, public freedom, in its slow and irregular tendency toward good. It is a confidence in everything that cold and ice are not. I need hardly say that it is not a mood that is widespread today. Certainly it is hard to sustain for those who live in history. Milton couldn't hold on to it, having seen his revolution fail and religious persecution return; it is remarkable that Rushdie, even with Zafar's help, manages to play his way into it at all, let alone play it through to a prosperous outcome.

But he does, and so we drift back, as promised, to the issue of the happy ending, and with it, truth. It was late in , almost two years into what he has called the ruin of his life, that Rushdie talked with James Fenton about the happy ending.

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He did not tell him only that he wanted to write it, that it was lovely to write it, but that it was necessary, integral to this stream of story. What he said struck Fenton hard. And Rushdie concurred: "I was exerting my freedom to make things turn out okay for that little boy and his dad and mum. Such authorial freedom seems a very different thing from the political and intellectual freedom that Milton has been talking about.

Yet what is less licit than a happy ending, what choice more daring for a writer, especially one who has so much better a reason than most of us to belch with melancholy? What more subversive of the current crop of received ideas than to compound so oppositional a choice with a truth-claim? And to do so with the same natural ethical language that Zafar had used, the language of right and wrong?

Wrong not to write for children. Wrong to deny what is, after all, a fact. Children have a right to ethical language, as to happy endings and to hope; most of us would agree to that. But Haroun is both a child and a child of our time, and though the story's almost over, the happy ending in preparation, he is still asking what's the use of happy endings that aren't even true. A novelist is free to write fantasy, but even fantasy is grounded in reality. Rushdie's reality admits of hope.

The exhilaration of possibility reaches from the personal to the public. It bespeaks a faith in the possibility of healing, not only the personal disaster of a little boy and his father, but political disaster as well. That the Guppees win the battle, that the dark ice melts away in sunshine—it is incumbent on us to remember that such things have happened. It may even happen that a sad city remembers its name and chooses freedom, opening itself to new possibilities and—of course—new problems. Even in hiding Rushdie could turn on his television and watch the Berlin Wall go down. Admittedly the sentence's continuation is scarcely Miltonic, as Rushdie cannily deflects any accusations of rhetorical splendor by bundling up his assemblage of vital abstractions into an unpretentious suggestion of "all the other longish words that add up to one very short word.

It is clear from the book that he wrote for his son that he would not disclaim that word, even today. Hope is a hidden, essential ingredient in any writing which seeks to advance the public good, perhaps in any writing at all. It is that short word that blends the public and the private purpose that at the outset seemed to distinguish two such separate works in two such separate genres. The purpose of Haroun and the Sea of Stories is as public as Areopagitica 's, and not only because it concerns freedom.

For those who write to children, like those who, as Milton did, write "to the world," write for the sake of the future. But an obstruction blocks our drift, just as the end seemed close. Are we ready to conflate the truths of the imagination with the truth of fact? The issue of happy endings is not so easily finessed. We may concede they may be emotionally necessary; now and then, perhaps, they may even occur. But how often, how typically, how significantly? Milton could believe that freedom enabled truth. Like Rushdie, he honored the underwater truths of Story. But he only glances at these in Areopagitica.

The truth his oration concerns itself with is explicit, expository truth, the kind of truth that is claimed not in stories but in orations, in pamphlets, in lectures and sermons. And what can this have to do with the truth of a sophisticated multiculturalist celebrating pluralism in ? We have encountered this obstruction already, large and capitalized, in Milton's paean to the vast city, mansion house of liberty, fashioning weapons—and Milton does not mean only metaphorical weapons—in defense of beleaguered Truth. Then I nudged us past its inconvenient bulk.

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But it's still there, unignorable. How can we associate Rushdie's flickering, provisional truths with Truth, transcendentalized with a capital initial? Rushdie inhabits the same world we do. He can, and does, cite Lyotard and Foucault and Rorty. He praises the novel explicitly as "the form created to discuss the fragmentation of truth" in a world in which he quotes Marx "all that is solid has melted into air.

Our coupling is coming uncoupled. We may concede occasional brushes with truth in the Streams of Story, below the surface if not upon it. We will listen as Milton, in his Princess Rescue variant, makes the Lady's little brother he was nine years old too say that the Christian Platonism his elder brother has been spouting is "musical as is Apollo's lute," knowing how easily we can melt truth-claims into music.

But we cannot do that in Areopagitica. Truth, word and idea, pervades that speech, and truth there is not music. It is "our richest merchandise. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter. For who knows not that Truth is strong…. She needs no policies, nor stratagems, nor licensings to make her victorious—those are the shifts and the defenses that error uses against her power.

Give her but room, and do not bind her when she sleeps, for then she speaks not true…. Like the victory of Gup City, this must strike unusably on postmodern ears, one more story that isn't even true. Milton could capitalize truth in , but it certainly isn't possible today. Yet the entities drift together even here.

If we think a capital T is enough to make truth monolithic, Milton will surprise us. In Areopagitica, his temple of the Lord is not carved out of a single block, but put together out of "brotherly dissimilitudes," with "many schisms and dissections made in the quarry and in the timber. It is the body of Egyptian Osiris, hewn into a thousand pieces and scattered to the winds, to be gathered up limb by limb.

Truth may be our richest merchandise, but "truth and understanding are not such wares as to be monopolized and traded…. We must not think to make a staple commodity of all the knowledge in the land, to mark and licence it out like our broadcloth and our woolpacks. Truth, today, is a word that literary critics touch with tongs. For that very reason readers may be grateful when writers of fiction feel free to pick it up. Certainly there are uses for stories even when they aren't true; if they are fun they are useful enough.

Yet everyone who has ever read a child a story or read a story as a child knows there's more to it than that, that children will search out their truths in unexpected places. The child who grew up kissing books and bread kissed "large numbers of cheap comics of a most unliterary nature," books about Superman and Batman and Aquaman and Spiderman. The adult, in his Read Lecture, tells why they were worth kissing, and the language in which he tells us deserves our attention. The superheroes may have been law-and-order conservatives, but "the lesson they taught children—this child, at any rate—was the perhaps unintentionally radical truth that exceptionality"—freaks and mutants as they were—"was the greatest and most heroic of values.

The words carry us back to a linguistic world in which Milton—or our great-grandfathers—would have felt at home. To us, however, the once familiar landscape has grown strange. It may be that children, and story-tellers, know things about stories that readers who come to literature through criticism forget. Rushdie, at any rate, will praise Grace Paley for the process of writing she describes as "taking out the lies," for her "determination to call things by their true names.


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Milton couldn't have stated it more categorically. Our couple wash up side by side, in the same surge of ethical emotion. Though truth may have more shapes than one and we have not yet found them all, Lords and Commons, still it is a word, and a concept, that neither Rushdie nor Milton can do without. It is, finally, that concept that underwrites the passionate call from both to acknowledge what books are, to kiss them, to pick them up when they fall, to acknowledge them as somebody else's precious life-blood that can vivify our own.

We can't do without books, or blood, or bread. Though "precious" is another uncommon word in late twentieth-century discourse, Rushdie, writing like Milton under the pressure of history, needs that one too. For when "the assumptions and processes of literature, which I had believed all free men and women could take for granted, and for which all unfree men and women continue every day to struggle," are subjected to "an attack of such bewildering ferocity," "it … become[ s] necessary to restate what is most precious about the art of literature—to answer the attack, not by an attack, but by a declaration of love.

Out of that declaration of love Rushdie might, I think, be willing to ratify a revision of Milton's phrase, to recuperate it as something like "the precious life-blood of our common society. Those values traveled east to Rushdie's India from a small, parochial island; Milton was their first, perhaps their greatest exporter.

Rushdie, migrant, inhabitant of imaginary homelands, under his own bitter constraint and sad occasion dear, claims them for himself and for his half-American child and for the world community. Lifeblood is alive, and we can't stay alive without it. Our job is to defend its living streams and bequeath them to the world's children.

The vast, warm, pullulating energy of the Sea of Story exemplifies not only the possibility but the actuality of shared knowledge and experience: Greek, Roman, Italian, English, Hebraic, Christian, if we think of Milton even Catholic, for though he was not ready to tolerate popery, he had read the Comedy through ; for Rushdie, the languages and legends and life of India, Kashmir, Iran; of Bombay, Delhi, Srinagar, Mecca; of London and New York —of Indian, Near Eastern, European, and English-speaking imagination, brought in the mind's ocean into mutually energizing collision and collaboration.

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Such hope as there is rises out of that plural vision. If Areopagitica envisages a noble and puissant nation leading Europe out of the collapse of the Universal Church into the problematics and possibilities of a free individual conscience, Haroun and the Sea of Stories embodies the hope that out of the collapse of colonialism may be created a richer, more multiple, more imaginative society, as Rushdie's books have created a richer, more multiple, more imaginative English.

It's a brave hope, gallant and moving, because it carries no promise of success, only of struggle. What Milton lived to see was True Liberty lost and his hopes in ruin. He could not guess that in they would be written into a Bill of Rights , or that by the second millennium the whole world would pay them at least lip service. Not a secure happy ending, not an ending at all.

Rushdie knows that. Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories and Carlo Collodi's The Adventures of Pinocchio 1 are both children's stories for grownups, fantastic quest-romances set in similarly allegorical topographies of the imagination, and, as it happens, they are also artist parables—allegorical accounts of the dialectic between Art and Life. But neither work is escapist fantasy, divorced from social and political concerns.

Rushdie's political sympathies are clear: "the poor lived in tumbledown shacks made of old cardboard boxes and plastic sheeting, and these shacks were glued together by despair" 18 ; one purpose of the characters in his frame narrative is to use the powers of storytelling, in a democratic, albeit corrupt, society, to ameliorate this situation. Collodi's tale is a mischievously subversive critique of the social and economic oppression of the poor by the rich, and of the gullible by the sneaky. Yet, in the end, he draws a moral which runs counter to Pinocchio's freely imaginative picaresque subversions of the status quo.

For in coopting Pinocchio into the virtues of submissive obedience especially to parental authority , dutiful school attendance and assiduous study habits, in preparation for a life of hard work for little pay, he is inculcating virtues designed to maintain and enhance the hierarchical hegemony of the rich over the poor, in a kind of home-grown provincial colonialism. As Carole Durix, typically for postcolonial critics, puts it, such a story is "a tool for reinforcing colonial values … to prepare its readers for the stations they will occupy when adult" i , making Pinocchio much the same sort of story for the children of newly united Italy in the last century that Rudyard Kipling 's Kim or The Jungle Books were for the Boy Scouts who would grow up to be the servants of Britain's empire.

So Pinocchio cannot help but be, one supposes, a pre-postcolonial children's story, employing the savage pedagogy of the School of Hard Knocks like that of the Cat, who ate the Blackbird "to teach him a lesson" [] , to make Pinocchio into what an adult would consider to be "a good little boy. The version far better known today than Collodi's, the Walt Disney animated film, Pinocchio, is clearly something worse than merely colonial; it's a neo colonial children's story.

The political implications of the Disneyfication of Pinocchio Wunderlich fit admirably into Ariel Dorfman's argument, based on Donald Duck, about the deleterious effect of the Disney empire upon countries of the Third World. If Rushdie, on the other hand, can be taken to be an exemplary and deliberate postcolonial writer, does it then follow that Haroun is a postcolonial children's story? Not necessarily.

Both Haroun and the Sea of Stories and Pinocchio are played out in episodes, selected for their teaching value, of a boy-child's growing up into socially acceptable maturity, although the virtues the two stories hope to inculcate are not quite the same. Rushdie's postcoloniality has not enabled him to write a children's book innocent of any ideological claim upon the young, although we are at liberty to find his list of virtues, and his protagonist's attitude towards them, more palatable than Pinocchio's occasional expressions of a "goody-goody" moral self-satisfaction.

Freedom of speech and human ecological guardianship of earth and sea are two closely linked topics on which Haroun Rushdie's eponymous boy-hero can be almost as moralistic ; as Pinocchio on filial obedience. Because of the pollution of the Sea of Stories, "Goopy and Bagha [the Plentimaw Fish] were coughing and spluttering" : their speech difficulties signal an effective diminution of their Freedom of Speech. In one respect Rushdie's tale is strikingly postcolonial: it subverts, or at least gives a little twist to, an eclectic amalgam of colonial elements from "classical" Children's Literature; 3 Pinocchio is my chief exemplar of the sort of text that Rushdie could draw upon.

Intertextuality is imaged in topography in Rushdie's mantra-like numerology of "a thousand and one small islands" 87 , echoing and resembling the thousand and one nights, standing, like them, synecdochally, for a thousand and one stories. Its characters, objects, and geographical features, from "Alphabet Bay" to "the Sea of Stories," from Alph the Sacred River to Xanadu, constitute "made up" Homelands or, as Rushdie puts it elsewhere, "Imaginary" ones.

They are "made up," in both senses, out of reifications of mental and moral circumstances or out of figures of speech: like the meteorological "harsh, hot wind" which is the "hot air" of the politician's speeches made literal 47 ; like "The Dull Lake," which yields a moral aesthetic; like the "Moody Land" as a projection of temperaments 48 ; like the "sadness factories" of the city in Alifbay which had forgotten its name Topographical imagery is, of course, merely a special case of such Rushdean rhetorical strategies, familiar from Midnight's Children and elsewhere, for making abstractions of all kinds concrete.

Numerous analogies offer themselves from Pinocchio, most prominently the reifying of proverbs, as in the "donkeyfication" of the errant schoolboys. Into a fairly "realistic" Tuscan landscape, inhabited to be sure by numerous species of talking animals, pop up such Bunyanesque allegorical places as Dodoland "paese dei Barbagianni" , Funland "paese dei balocchi" or Country of Toys , and Catchafool Town citta … "Achiappacitrulli". The actual eleventh-century anthology, still in existence, entitled The Ocean of the Streams of Story, mentioned on page 51, has, by page 72, turned into "the Ocean of the Streams of Story," which is a principal setting for the fictional action.

Rushdie's eponymous "Sea of Stories" yields an artist-parable for the magic realist, for Haroun 's polysemously metafictional allegory of intertextuality could indeed be read in toto as the text of a magic realism self-reflexively considering its own nature. Rushdie's panoramic descriptions of this "Sea of Stories" constitute a mise en abyme of his own narrative method:. It was not dead but alive…. Rushdie, the poet-laureate of the aesthetic border-crossings and intertextual miscegenation so characteristic of the postcolonial, here makes artistic virtue of the political and biographical necessity of being what used to be called a "rootless cosmopolitan.

Collodi's work, too, is prototypical Magic Realism, with the fantastic having to make its way in a realistically, even satirically, observed imperfect world: "[Collodi's] fantastic is never far removed from the familiar" Perella But the labours of the creative imagination are relegated to the implicit by Collodi, who, like a latter-day Plato, exploits those very charms of the fantastic which his ethical precepts force him to denounce, or at least diminish: all those worlds of pleasure and imaginative escape, for instance, which offer hedonistic temptations to the puppet on his way to his ethical goal—school.

And schoolbooks are rare and precious; all the more shocking when they are used as missiles in the schoolboy battle by the shore, and eventually nibbled by the fishes, who find them too dry for food. As it is for Rushdie, art is largely performance for Collodi; he "speaks" throughout, as storyteller, to his implied auditors "i miei piccoli lettori," "my little readers": "No, children, you are wrong" Rashid the storyteller's explicitly oral performance, the key framing activity of Rushdie's book, makes "lots of different tales juggled together," thinks his son Haroun, metaphorically 16 , and conversely he thinks that Blabbermouth's literal "juggling is [perhaps] a kind of storytelling, too" , reversing reification to interpret the concrete abstractly Although, in clear historical allegory, a Rushdean terrorist can pervert performance that is, art into deception and destruction by juggling not with gold balls but with a "live bomb," included, and thus concealed, among his more orthodox paraphernalia , for neither entertainer can the aesthetic be detached from the political.

Pinocchio's own puppet-show, in the commedia dell'arte mode, 5 and particularly his enforced and enslaved circus performance, are, in contrast to Rashid's, seen largely as false and degrading. And our sympathies are inevitably with the puppets, in their revolt against their brutal puppet-master, as later with the circus-animals, in their painful servitude.

Because "the telling of lies" is a form of storytelling, storytelling itself is seen as, at least in part, the telling of lies. Not only is the puppet metaphysically rewarded, by his metamorphosis into boyhood, for turning his back on "spontaneity, exuberance and fantasy" Perella 57 , but he is also socially rewarded with middle-class status, making him a role-model for his actual middle-class readers. Pinocchio 's protagonist is, appropriately, a "fantastic" boy—the puppet who moves without strings—who, while inserted into a relatively "real" episodic, often politically and socially satiric, plot, moves towards becoming correspondingly "real" himself.

The protagonist of the fantastic adventures in Haroun and the Sea of Stories is, conversely, the persona of a "real" boy both fictionally and autobiographically , Rushdie's dedicatee, his son Zafar, and the storyteller's name, Rashid, is an explicit anagram for Rushdie himself.

That Haroun and the Sea of Stories constitutes a powerful allegory of the author's own historical situation is a point which can hardly have escaped the attention of any reader old enough to read the newspapers. Note that "history" that is, that part of Rushdie's own biography that has now, all-too-tangibly, become "history" is presented quite unmistakably, yet obliquely, indeed almost covertly, in Haroun. This is a chiasmic reversal of the method of Rushdie's earlier novel, Midnight's Children, in which "History"—the history of India since independence—is front-and-centre, while it is the allegory of intertextuality—its genealogical appropriations and textual border-crossings—that is covert see Merivale.

Both Haroun and Pinocchio are built up of eclectic intertextualities. Rushdie finds relevantly fantastic topoi in all the great children's-stories-for-grownups: in Alice in Wonderland 's chessboard landscape, in The Wizard of Oz a notable Rushdie favorite , The Phantom Tollbooth, The Earthsea Trilogy, and many others.

But of course, like another eclectic meta-text published at about the same time, John Barth 's The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor , Haroun is most particularly indebted to the Arabian Nights : all its "vista[s] … are like … magic carpet[s]" 34; see Aji. Haroun 's villain, Khattam-Shud, is like the genie in-and-out of the bottle , while Haroun's Hoopoe is like the living metal bird who provides magical transport in the Arabian Nights.

Bureaucratic System in Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

Their houseboat, called Arabian Nights Plus One ? The houseboat is a liminal place, that is, one not yet wholly imaginary. It is in the Valley of K—once known as a historical landscape, but now a bilingual pun turned into a compact commentary on the sorrows of History: what was the Earthly Paradise of Midnight's Children is now "a cloud from a dream or a nightmare … Kache-mer … Kosh-Mar" that is, Kashmir; 38, If Collodi's topography is more this-world and matter-of-fact, it is nevertheless filled, surreally, with all the appropriate stage properties for its emblematic actions.

And the talking animals of his Beast Fable, birds and sea-animals in particular, chicklet, falcon, pigeon useful for magic transport, like Butt the Hoopoe , woodpecker, parrot, the friendly Dolphin, a big Crab with a voice "like a trombone with a cold," the Tuna with his "cracked, harsh voice," and especially the Cat and the Fox recognizable from their verbal tics even in the heaviest disguises, all have their analogues in Rushdie.

His frame characters can be identified in their dream-vision morphs by similar verbal tics, like the "butbutbut" verbal stutters of the Hoopoe, formerly Mr. Butt the bus-driver, who now speaks "without moving his beak" Rushdie's Floating Gardeners "high speed vegetation [in] something like the shape of a man" [82] , like all the rest of the strange anthropomorphic bestiary of his Moon-World, are creatures of the Beast Fable imaginatively wedded to the landscapes of romantic vision and its update, science fiction.

The creative imagination must express itself by storytelling, a process explicitly privileged, as well as allegorically enacted, in Haroun, by means of what we but not the text would call the "inspiration" provided by the "magic" Story Waters from the Streams of Story.

A romantic-visionary artist parable finds expression in a romantic-visionary landscape: "where Alph the sacred river ran," as Coleridge put it, in the allegorical topography of his "Kubla Khan," cited by Rushdie in his own acrostic epigraph, "Zembla, Zenda, Xanadu":.

In this Pleasure Garden were fountains and pleasure-domes and ancient spreading trees. And there are of course "ancestral voices" announcing preparations for war The antithesis of this paradisal landscape is again a Romantic one. The poisoning of the Ocean, in making the "coastal waters" cool, clammy, colourless, and death-dealing, has created a negative, because polluted, landscape, a Waste Land. When they first landed on this moon, invisible from earth, its surface seemed "to be entirely liquid.

Now the questers go south, leaving behind the shoreline of "that dark and silent continent," into the still colder, stickier, less colorful "Southern Polar Ocean" , at the "edge of the Twilight Strip, very near the hemisphere of Perpetual Darkness" However, when a forest, a "floating jungle" full of monstrous hybrids of ancient creatures, stands up from the ocean, Rushdie's waterworld becomes more like one of J.

Ballard's apocalyptic landscapes. So the intertextually romantic topography now becomes science-fictional—as if had flipped over into Haroun and the Sea of Stories is indebted throughout to "sci-fi" quest romances, from Lucian's The Marvellous Voyage a major source for Pinocchio as well to the cosmic-visionary landscapes of Star Wars and Star Trek.

Rushdie's "sci-fi" topography is lunar, or like Mercury's, although it is more Manichean than Mercurial. The hemisphere of Perpetual Darkness Chup, the totalitarian enemy kingdom is separated by the Twilight Strip compare "Zone" from its virtuous opposite, Gup, the hemisphere of Eternal Daylight. Rushdie's word-play for describing this landscape is marked by verbal-visual inversions of darkness and light: "like a film negative that somebody forgot to print" ; the blacks of their reversed eyes; the unreliable "dark sea-horses" Both Haroun and Pinocchio climax in archetypal Night-Sea journeys, negative Descents into an Under-Sea world, with Pinocchio drawn into the dark belly of the Shark only Disney calls it a Whale; Collodi says "pesce-cane," that is, dog-fish or shark and Haroun diving from Khattam-Shud's even darker factory Ship into the depths of the Polar Ocean.

They find, of course, that, in accordance with our own popular scientific mythologies, the Black Hole "eats light, eats it raw with his bare hands," and therefore, in this book's symbolic economy, he "eats words, too" Thereafter Rashid is hired to speak on behalf of local politicians but fails his initial assignment. The two are thence conveyed to the 'Valley of K' by courier 'Mr. Butt', to speak for 'Snooty Buttoo', another politician. Attempting to sleep aboard Buttoo's yacht , Haroun discovers 'Iff the Water Genie', assigned to detach Rashid's imagination, and demands conversation against this decision with Iff's supervisor, the Walrus.

They are then carried to the eponymous 'Sea of Stories' by an artificial intelligence in the form of a hoopoe , nicknamed 'Butt' after the courier. Of the Sea of Stories, Haroun learns it is endangered by antagonist 'Khattam-Shud,' who represents "the end. Rashid joins them here, having witnessed Batcheat's kidnapping. Thereafter Haroun and his companions join the Guppee army of 'Pages' toward Chup, where they befriend Mudra, Khattam-Shud's former second-in-command.

Before he can do so, Mali destroys the machines used by him to poison the Sea, and Haroun restores the Sea's long-annulled alternation of night and day— thus destroying the antagonist's shadow and those assisting him, and diverting the giant 'Plug' meant to seal the Source. In Chup, the Guppee army destroy the Chupwalas' army and release Princess Batcheat; whereupon Khattam-Shud himself is crushed beneath a collapsing statue commissioned by himself.

Thereafter the Walrus promises Haroun a happy ending of his own story. On return to the human world, Rashid reveals Haroun's adventures to local citizens, who expel Snooty Buttoo. When Rashid and Haroun return home, the people of their city have become joyous to replace their customary misery, and Soraya has returned to her son and husband.

The novel concludes with an appendix explaining the meaning of each major character's name. A young, curious, courageous, outspoken child. He struggles throughout most of the story with a form of attention-deficit disorder caused by his mother running away with Mr. Sengupta at exactly eleven o'clock, and under its influence he is unable to concentrate for a longer period of time not more than eleven minutes.

But he eventually overcomes his disorder at the climax, never to suffer from it again. He and his father are both named after the "legendary Caliph of Baghdad, Haroun al-Rashid, who features in many Arabian Nights tales. Their surname Khalifa actually means Caliph" [4]. Rashid : Haroun's father, known as the Shah of Blah and the Ocean of Notions for his ability to devise stories impromptu, Rashid is a professional storyteller sometimes hired by corrupt politicians to persuade constituents in their favour.

His attachment to his wife and to his practice of storytelling, is probably his greatest psychological weaknesses; when either of them is lost, he becomes depressed and tends to lose the other. In the story, to recover the latter, he travels to Kahani by means known as 'Rapture', through which he is able to travel inside his dreams and wake up in the world, his dream has created. Having reached Kahani, he alerts the Guppees about the location of their Princess Batcheat and later joins their army to rescue her from the Chupwalas. Soraya : Rashid's wife, who is tired of his imagination and leaves him for the dull and dreary Mr.

Sengupta, a neighbour. That she is becoming alienated from Rashid is implied early in the story, where she is said to have abandoned her daily songs.


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  • At the end, she returns to Rashid, and revives her affection for her husband and son. Upon her return, the depression overwhelming Rashid and the syndrome manifested by Haroun do not reappear. Her name is probably Persian in origin. Sengupta : Haroun's neighbour, who elopes with Soraya. As a rule, Mr. Sengupta despises imagination and stories, which sets the stage for his later appearance on Kahani as antagonist Khattam-Shud. Khattam-Shud's defeat seems to correspond with Soraya's desertion of Mr.

    Sengupta, who does not appear again in person.

    Haroun and the Sea of Stories

    His name is a legitimate Bengali surname. Miss Oneeta : Mr. Sengupta's obese, talkative, self-important, overwhelmingly emotional, generous wife, disappointed in her husband after he has eloped with Soraya. In her dismay, she disowns him and her married name. It is she who reveals that Soraya has deserted her family and that her act has given Haroun his disorder, and also announces her return. Butt : The mail courier, a reckless driver who, when requested to provide transport for Haroun and Rashid who is expected to speak at an election of public officers , ignores all other demands to take them to their destination before dusk.

    He is implied equivalent of the Hoopoe, who also serves as Haroun's transportation. Snooty Buttoo : A corrupt politician who hires Rashid to convince constituents that he Buttoo should be re-elected. Buttoo is a class-conscious, pompous, arrogant, self-assured person whose chief hold over his constituents is that he has been re-elected before. Ultimately driven from his district by popular demand. Butt the Hoopoe : A mechanical Hoopoe who becomes Haroun's steed in Kahani, capable of almost all known mental feats, including telepathy the latter producing a recurrent joke that he "spoke without moving [his] beak".

    He is also capable of flying at impossible speeds, between Earth and Kahani. Because he shares with Mr. Butt the idiosyncrasy of saying "but but but" at the beginning of sentences, in addition to some superficial details of appearance, he is called by the same name. Lurie directly compares the story to the real world, asserting that Rashid represents Rushdie and Khattam-Shud represents the Ayatollah.

    In the novel, the Gups won the war because the Chupwallas feared speech. This shows how Haroun and the Sea of Stories conveys beliefs and emotions deeper than what is literally written by using metaphors to depict universal real world issues and how they affected Salman Rushdie personally.

    In fiction and in reality, freedom of speech and the ability to express are always necessary for a society to function properly and stealing them from a person is like polluting their creative sea. Remember: This is just a sample from a fellow student. Sorry, copying is not allowed on our website. We will occasionally send you account related emails. Want us to write one just for you? Nausea: A Realization of Existence Essay. Literature Review Essays.

    Lying Essays. The Color Purple Essays. Dulce Et Decorum Est Essays. Acquainted With The Night Essays. Haven't found the right essay? Get an expert to write your essay! Get your paper now. Professional writers and researchers.

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