My qualm is that it is unorganized. It might be chronological, but that hurts when discussing events and themes. I would prefer a thematic arrangement...moreMy qualm is that it is unorganized. It might be chronological, but that hurts when discussing events and themes. I would prefer a thematic arrangement.
It also focuses excessively on politics. That is satisfactory, but there needs to be more on social and cultural features of society. (less)
This book is sublime and Orwell is sublime. His perspicacity of politics, society, power, people, and psychology are all so rich and they interplay wi...moreThis book is sublime and Orwell is sublime. His perspicacity of politics, society, power, people, and psychology are all so rich and they interplay with each other in his production of a distopian society, but a very real reality in Orwell's eyes. His critiques are subtle and overt but always brilliant. His grasp of the human character and capacities is the material for his characters, who almost defy tragedy in their portrayals. All proceeding distopian art or negative prophesies are laced with Orwell. Orwell might be one of the most important people of the 20th century. This book is evidence of why. I feel like I deprived myself by not reading this earlier. There are very few books that can strike such a resonant chord. Sheer brilliance. (less)
My professor said that all English history textbooks are wretched. I found this quite good. It covers the social, political, noble, and common. A lot...moreMy professor said that all English history textbooks are wretched. I found this quite good. It covers the social, political, noble, and common. A lot of emphasis is placed on the Great Chain of Being. The thought is correct, but the doctrine seems wrong. (less)
I enjoyed this immensely. The themes were beautifully crafted into a story that is quite old and reminiscent of many post World War II British novels...moreI enjoyed this immensely. The themes were beautifully crafted into a story that is quite old and reminiscent of many post World War II British novels (I'm thinking 1984 and Lord of the Flies), but that shows that these themes are intricate and always relevant.
The writing is too simple, even if it is meant to be read by children and young adults. The sentences are too simple, the word choice is basic, and there is nothing to be sought in terms of literary brilliance. Writing for children does not mean sacrificing writing quality. This seriously damaged the quality of the book from start to finish. It was written so basically that I had to repeatedly go back and re-read sections because I skipped over them from reading too quickly.
That being said, the ending was masterful. I'm looking forward to reading the sequels, but with trepidation over the writing. (less)
Rushdie dabbles in children's literature successfully, I must say. I don't think this prequel contains the same wonderful plot as Luka And The Fire Of...moreRushdie dabbles in children's literature successfully, I must say. I don't think this prequel contains the same wonderful plot as Luka And The Fire Of Life: A Novel, but it is still a provocative collection of surreal stories and messages. All great novelists are storytellers and Rushdie encapsulates that quality with skill. The wordplay and prose are my favorite aspects of the book. Some familiarity with Hindi/Urdu might help, but there is a glossary in the back of the book. (less)
This was a lot of fun. Short, sweet, and a lot of fun.
It is refreshing that Rushdie can transition between writing lengthy and complicated symbolic to...moreThis was a lot of fun. Short, sweet, and a lot of fun.
It is refreshing that Rushdie can transition between writing lengthy and complicated symbolic tomes depicting Pakistan and India in chaos and then write about a fantasy - perhaps a virtual - world. The world and story that Rushdie depicts has a fantastical element to it, but the first thing you might realize is how akin this story is to a video game plot. It is a sophisticated and deep project that a video game student might create for a class. You might even get the feeling you are wading through a friendlier version of The Inferno.
As always, the wordplay is exquisite, mind-bending, and humorous. The riddles range from banal to quip-worthy. The characters do not make the story as much as the actual plot does.
I made the mistake of reading this before Haroun because I did not realize this was a sequence; I was merely looking for Sir Rushdie's recent work. I hope he continues with this line of thought and story. I am definitely going to go give Haroun a read when I have the chance. (less)
This is an instant favorite, no doubt about it. It clicked for me from the page and the enjoyment lasted. It is really one of those rare books that ca...moreThis is an instant favorite, no doubt about it. It clicked for me from the page and the enjoyment lasted. It is really one of those rare books that catapults you into the story, engages you with the characters - their feelings, thoughts, and dialogues - and makes you wish it never ends. It is multi-layered with complexity of the historical circumstances, socioeconomic standing and norms of 19th century England, whims of characters, and extensive yet perfectly subtle word play on the part of the indomitable Jane Austen. The movie is well worth watching; the book is an incredibly masterful work of art. I have seen the movie around seven times. Quite soon, I think my total of reading the book will surpass that number.
I do not have much by way of criticism and a flowering of praise for a book that has been receiving well-deserved praise from scholars and one-book-a-year readers is excessive on my part. Rather, I will discuss what I found particularly illuminating and fascinating. Other than the sheer marvel of a novel that Austen has written, I have to say that I am amazed by the lucidity and perspicacity of social history that Austen shares with us.
One of my favorite scenes was Mr. Darcy's and Lizzie's interaction at the ball. Such cool, defiant diffidence on the part of the male protagonist ! The man does not subscribe to community norms nor conventions. He is a blue print for two centuries of male protagonists and heroes, who are comfortable in their own skin without societal pressures clamping on them to conform to obsequious yes-men. Darcy is quite frankly Darcy and that is established early and often. Obviously, this rubs off incorrigibly with many he comes in contact with (Lizzie !), but it is his steadfast adherence to who he is that can really engross an audience. Darcy does not want to dance nor will he. He does not want to surrender to 'inferior' people (in his eyes) wasting his time, so he will not. Of course, it is easier to act like Darcy when you have money coming out of the wazoo like Darcy, but such is the world of early 19th C. England.
Collins' marriage proposal is the funniest scene in the book and it turns out that the movie could not do it justice to the way that Jane Austen beautifully renders it. In fact, Collins as a tall fellow (I remember him short and awkward in the movie) is an even funnier representation of a gawking and self-deceived minor league preacher who thinks that he should be married with Lizzie. All of the matrimonial conventions of England permeate this scene, and yet, it is a totally different than expected situation. Mrs Bennet, of course, is the antithesis of what Jane Austen considers to be a 'real female,' and she is elated by the idea. Mr. Bennet laughs it off and defies his wife in front of Lizzie, demanding that she abjure Collins' proposal, even though it will severely damage future economic and security prospects.
One of the most necessary skills to master in literature is the development of core characters. Characters cannot be staid, boring, and stagnant. They must be dynamic, especially in the sense, that others view them differently and create new conceptions of schemas of them. Nowhere is this more important and apparent in the rescheming that Lizzie has to construct with Darcy. She is vehement in her abhorrence and disgust of his flaunting of social manners and acting; then she is repulsed by his marriage proposal; and without actually changing who he is or what he does, Darcy becomes a hero to Lizzie. It is a wonderful transformation of character development within another character's head.
As Lizzie is the protagonist and the Virgil of guiding readers through the slippy and perfidious terrain of social graces and behavior in genteel England, we as readers are supposed to be engaged with her line of reasoning and her beliefs from the outset. That is, we are exposed to the rich social circumstances of her time (women need to be taught in proper skills, women need to be prepared to be married, inheritances matter, tacky alliances matter, it is important which branch of aristocracy a family belongs to), and we see those circumstances through her eyes by her sisters' marriages and flirtations.
This could be incredibly Orientalist and haughty Western superiority on my part, but it seems to me that Austen's construction of early 19th C. genteel England resonates with how many parts of the Arab World / Islamic World work. The culture of honor is strongly imbued in Austen's time, as it is in the Islamic World. It operates on this culture of honor that is fomented and displayed through masculinity, in particular when tied to female relatives. The arrangement of marriages reverberates with many cultures throughout the world presently and historically, but it is congruent with how marriage works in the Islamic World (rich and poor in different ways). There are family marriages, family alliances, patriarchy, hierarchy, very little say for women, forced marriages, property, dowry, and young marriages. The telling difference, or at least in Austen's world, is that Austen's strong and independent female characters have a voice and are not afraid to opine.
Austen's also distinguishes the archetypes of what she views as rote and usual females versus what she views as independent and positive females. Mrs Bennet is a hackneyed, usual, oleaginous female who is only concentrated on getting her daughters married to men of high social standing and then wasting tens of thousands of pounds on muslin and other garments. She represents the antithesis of her daughter, Lizzie, and I suppose Jane, who believes a woman can be rational and not subservient to her impulses and base emotions, as was the predominant view of the time. This is a main theme of the book, but this motif crawls its way in many scenes without screaming that this is one of the book's purposes. My annotated version of the book frequently mentioned Mary Wollstonecraft as the inspiration for this rational-based model. It is an interesting topic to reflect on because I do not know Austen's intention. She makes no intimation that women should or have the capability of participating in the economic sphere of the world. She does not seem to elevate women to the level of men in a status regard. She adamantly asserts, however, that women have the rational and cerebral capacity of men. She balances that paradigm with the over-laced femininity of Mrs Bennet quite well.
Just a note on Jane Austen's family: it is because of her family circumstances and philosophy that she was permitted to foster her talents and publish her novels. It goes to show that encouraging talent, despite restrictive social norms, is the proper way to break out of stifling modes of life. Instead of consigning herself to the life of a Mrs Bennet, Austen's family encouraged her to write, critiqued and enjoyed her work, and sought means of publication for her. They exhorted a sense of openness and discussion. In essence, they were central to her success as a writer and person. That attitude has reverberating and positive effects and plays well into this novel (Mr Bennet?). (less)
Like Seeking a Role: The United Kingdom 1951-1970, Professor Harrison conveys the main currents affecting the UK through a critical time period. Recen...moreLike Seeking a Role: The United Kingdom 1951-1970, Professor Harrison conveys the main currents affecting the UK through a critical time period. Recent history can be difficult to manage because of its more discernible impact on the present, but Harrison gives a fair shake to the main debates of the time periods, both in politics and among ordinary Brits. The eight motifs give the text a thematic understanding that makes it simple to comprehend. (less)
I am a neophyte on Orwell, though massively impressed by him, so I am not qualified to say how important this work is on his overall work and life. Th...moreI am a neophyte on Orwell, though massively impressed by him, so I am not qualified to say how important this work is on his overall work and life. This is a critical analysis of the Spanish Civil War, which can be considered a prelude to WWII and the battles that would pan out in that conflict. Spain is often forgotten as a country when discussing and studying modern Europe because it did not participate in the world wars and did not have the same development trajectory as other nations, such as France, Germany, and Italy. It is located in Western Europe, but that geographic fact does not extent it the same significance other countries receive. Orwell masterfully describes the sad situation in Spain, a historic nation (or collection of separate provinces, depending on your preference), that is struggling to enter modernity. It is also primed to receive forty years of Fascist rule before the Third Wave of Democracy. Orwell's analysis is insight not only because he is actively participating, but because he can participate and think like an outside observer simultaneously. He sees the folly of the thousands of political parties killing each other while Franco wins the country. He is betrayed by ideals and Spain deteriorates. Anti-Communism became central to Orwell's later life and that much is apparent in this history. (less)
An extra star is given out for the Chris Farley story and making me fall out of my chair with roaring laughter as I imagined in perfect voice, tone, a...moreAn extra star is given out for the Chris Farley story and making me fall out of my chair with roaring laughter as I imagined in perfect voice, tone, and face as Farley said each bite of steak needs a hat. (For 30 Rock fans, I didn't quite "Liz," but were I ever to, that would be the moment.)
No need for me to go into all the reasons I like Rob Lowe, his work over three decades, the various roles he has excelled in, the constant joy that Chris Traegor has brought to my life, etc. So I'll focus on the foibles and irks that made me mini-wretch. I watched St. Elmo's Fire and had confirmation of terrible role selection and play, so that did not help prevent wretching. He earned that worst performance award.
I can't exactly place myself as an East Coast kid, but I am not a child of the Midwest either. I also have little use for generalizing stereotypes whose only purpose is convenience and false information for the inexperienced and ignorant. And that is how i felt Lowe employed those Midwestern and Californian stereotypes. I am more than willing to give the foundations for the stereotypes credence. But I get really sick really easily with the simple narrative of the nice, simple, pure Midwestern kid and corruptible morally bankrupt California coaster. He tweets like that, too. It is one point of criticism to tweet it. It is worse when you have all of the space in the world and you squander it with simplicity. Shame to Lowe or ghost writer.
Good amount of sex and debauchery partying. I still wanted more. Until there is more (hint hint, third book please), I refuse to believe that he is the playboy he claims to have been. Princess of Monaco is pretty baller, though. Unless that is concomitant to that St. Elmo's Fire role, though.
Not specific to Lowe, but it makes me uneasy when those who benefit richly off an industry and its machinations spend their time bashing it. Lawyers crushing the legal system, actors demolishing Hollywood, teachers decrying education, pick your favorite examples. I do not mean professional critical self-examination because that is how self-policing happens and how those arenas improve. Rather, I mean the naked excoriation of your industry for the sole purpose of earning the false adulation of outsiders because you desire their affirmation and try to distance yourself from that "filth" or however you want to phrase it. It is discomforting. Embrace what made you and criticize it. I have no problem with your stardom and fame. Relish it, dude.
More Lakers tweets and Peyton Manning reporting please. (less)
I learned that I have an overwhelming desire to devour cafe glace after reading this book.
I truly enjoy memoirs. There are many downfalls to memoirs,...moreI learned that I have an overwhelming desire to devour cafe glace after reading this book.
I truly enjoy memoirs. There are many downfalls to memoirs, such as forgotten moments, confabulation, confusion of fact and fiction, etc. Nafisi wrote this only a couple years after escaping that wretched totalitarian farce of the Islamic Republic of Iran, so the memory issue does not seem to matter here. In fact, judging by her meticulous recounting of what people wore and ordered at cafes, it seems quite vivid.
This will strike you as a quintessential middle aged women's book club book. It certainly is, but it is not in a pejorative pandering to their interests sort of way. It sheds light on the struggles women have to endure in totalitarian regimes that stress uber masculinity and paternalism at the expense of individuality, freedom, and femininity.
I could not find myself to muster sympathy for Nafisi's study group. They are beset with a panoply of problems inherent to living in a country overrun by zealots, fanatics, and revolution, but her students are not tragic heroines. They are struggling to live their lives and dealing with the abstract and concrete concepts of love, but there was nothing to engender my sympathies. I don't think I am being callous either; they just were not the interesting part of the story to me. Nafisi intrigued me; they didn't. They were essential to her life and understanding of life, but they were not central to my enjoyment of the story.
I have quibbles with the way that Nafisi taught her great novels. Firstly, in the modern context, it is nerdy and weird to have an undying love of books, especially when it comes to fiction and novels that we are not familiar with in this era. I am glad that English literature is prevalent and read throughout the world; the sad fact is that we do not appreciate it enough here. I would have liked more explanations to the love of literature, rather than how it incensed the reactionaries.
She also boxed in all literature to the dichotomies of revolutionary and counter-revolutionary. While this distinction might have been relevant to her historical circumstances and life, I find it unfair and limiting. Not all literature can be categorized by this simple bifurcation. Using the authors' experiences and novels to justify or illuminate their situation is fine, but I cannot understand it if is couched in their reactionary Iran. Iran was not undergoing revolution; it was and is the stringent form of reaction. Revolution is going forward and reforming; reaction is repealing.
Christopher Hitchens dedicated much of his writing and life to fighting fascism, and he mentions this book in his memoir. While reading this book and waddling in fury and anger over censorship and mass stupidity, I realized that it is a shame that people act the same in the West as those proto-idiot Fascists do in Iran. Every day, literary battles are fought over "immoral" books that instruct students in "immorality, etc." The lesson I take away is that it is imperative to fight those anti-intellectuals and troglodytes, most of whom do not read the books they are fighting to censure. (less)
I have seen the movie a couple times too many (so I was imagining the indubitably handsome and rugged yet endowed with an awkward running style that i...moreI have seen the movie a couple times too many (so I was imagining the indubitably handsome and rugged yet endowed with an awkward running style that involves fits of spit and frozen eyes Daniel Craig the entire time). I am confident that distorts the way this adventure is supposed to be read, but it is inevitable that I would transpose one of my favorite movies onto the progenitor that spawned the entire series of Bond movies, games, and books.
The movies can rarely fundamentally symbolize and convey the depth of psychology that is required for an action hero of 007's composition. It is stated early and reflected upon that the earning of the 00 badge is through the cold-blooded murder of a foe. This almost forces Bond out of the spy game when he is reflecting on his actions and career. The obvious lesson is that Bond functions best as a spy when he does not think and works by instinct alone. However, what makes Bond so great is that he is cerebral without a doubt and he has to be cerebral in order to stay ahead of his opponents, and quite often, his own agency.
The obvious shocks to someone entering the Bond literary world from the popular Bond movie and game world are that M is secretive and a man and that Bond is a vulnerable figure. The emotional vulnerabilities are captured beautifully by Fleming, as when Bond wonders how he can work with a female spy and when he is actually involved with Vesper. His interaction and overall encounter with Vesper, I suppose, are key building up and creating who Bond actually is. Not like an origins story, but it would serve as a life lesson in future adventures, I would think. His job and life require him to function like an emotionless machine to perfection.
The backdrop is much different in books, as it should be. Communism is the avowed threat from the USSR and collaboration with NATO countries and especially the United States is key. Everyone's World War II experience plays a part in who they are and how they act. Ideology is tested, motives are questioned, and tricky alliances are formed. Double agents are everywhere; the perception of double agents is ubiquitous. This seems like a fun series and I will be pursuing all twelve books.
This textbook has the rare combined qualities of proving loads and loads of information to the point of cognitive overload but mixing it with eminent...moreThis textbook has the rare combined qualities of proving loads and loads of information to the point of cognitive overload but mixing it with eminent readability. It reads quickly for being such a large tome that dissects the social, economic, political, and culture history of a rapidly changing two decades in the storied history of The United Kingdom. The excellent aspect is that Harrison uses eight motifs and weaves them throughout the story to maintain coherence and organization. I am looking forward to reading the sequel. (less)
I actually read the literary back-and-forth between Pankaj Mishra and Niall Ferguson before giving this history of Western civilization a read. The ba...moreI actually read the literary back-and-forth between Pankaj Mishra and Niall Ferguson before giving this history of Western civilization a read. The battle between libel and accusations is quite interesting, and it provides insight into the book and its making. I am not sure if the law suit will come to a real fruition, but literary throwdowns are excellent.
Ferguson's analysis of Western civilization, its ascendancy, and its sustained excellence all related to the six "killer application." I understand why he named them "killer apps," but it sounds funny for my tastes. They are difficult to argue with and contrary to what Pankaj Mishra suggests, Ferguson gives ample credit to the assistance Western civilization received from India, China, and Islamic civilizations in innovation and cultural exchanges.
I see why the book is contentious to many people and Ferguson does not veil any of his beliefs (open contempt for Marx, head-over-heels for Shakespeare) and that is fine with me, but there are some historical problems. Empires do not decline and fall within a generation as Ferguson claims. The further problem is that Ferguson extrapolates from these problematic historical conclusions he gathers to modern issues and problems facing the world. Empires undergo long eras of decline, which are often staved off by generations of effective leadership until the precipitous slide continues.
This book contains many features I love in a book, such as a global history and history of Western civilization. It is also eminently readable and perhaps just as importantly, eminently arguable. You can causally argue the premises and conclusions in a bar discussion or through informed academic jousting.
I have rarely read a historian's book that is overwhelmingly seeping with his current political beliefs. It does not ruin or injure the book, but it is a shock to see in print.
The Sexy Scot Ferguson is sure to mention Jared Diamond and Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies in his introduction and while he does not discount Diamond's work and thesis, he says that geography is not enough to explain the West's ascendancy and Europe's emergence. The next page he says geography is destiny. I can agree with Ferguson on the account that geography is not merely enough, though it certainly does promote Ferguson's applications. The eerie thing is that Ferguson starts his book off much like Diamond begins his; with a "third world" person asking why the West ascended ahead of currently developing nations. Just something to think about.
The biggest, gaping issues is his final chapter, when he discusses the sixth app of work ethic. The Protestant work ethic is well-documented, but to say that this "spirit" effused in Western civilization only and needed to be exported is a bald-faced lie. Work ethic and religion can have a double relationship; meaning that a religion can both promote and dissuade a positive work ethic. A stifling and stultifying hierarchy and dissuade work ethic but an opened up religion can just as much promote it. This works for all religions, Eastern and Western. It is a pernicious and incorrect pairing to give work ethic solely as a Protestant development and export. The Protestant work ethic is attributable to the rise of capitalism, but it is a dubious tie to work ethic around the world. There is a plethora to discuss in this book. I am definitely going to check out more Ferguson but with a critical and skeptical historical eye. (less)
This book has the advantage of being written 20 years after the Rushdie Affair, so it can take recent events that invoke the Rushdie Affair into accou...moreThis book has the advantage of being written 20 years after the Rushdie Affair, so it can take recent events that invoke the Rushdie Affair into account. Malik excellently dissects the liberal response to the Rushdie Affair and excoriates liberal responses to recent events. He demonstrates that liberals have made it unacceptable to be offended, giving "spurious legitimacy" to Islamist anger. This is a well-detailed account of the Affair, written by a South Asian Brit. (less)
That near tautology encapsulates the essence of this novel. The argument can easily be made that Rushdi...moreA book about Pakistan but not really Pakistan.
That near tautology encapsulates the essence of this novel. The argument can easily be made that Rushdie is not even discussing one specific culture or one specific country; shame is indeed a universal human emotion, as the social psychologist Paul Ekman has found. Young children acquire it and adults practice it, as Rushdie's characters do with alarming frequency. The actions engendered through feelings of shame and shamelessness are breathtaking in their scope and impact in this novel.
Rushdie is brilliant in prose, thought, conveying action and feelings, and especially in narrating. The invocations of 'dear reader' can be flattery-laced and seemingly superfluous, but Rushdie speaks to us throughout the book. These authorial interjections were my favorite parts of the story. He discusses on shame, muses on politics and history, and bemoans unfortunate social norms. His insights are fantastic.
It is a complicated book, at once amalgamating feelings of deracination, oppression, and power. It narrates the story of women, immigrants, and power-holders. Power is shared, stolen, and treasured. Lives intertwine with the political, social, and historical fabric of a 'nation.'
Everything is in here. It is time for me to embark on a Rushdie tear. (less)
This novel has won the Booker Prize, The Booker of Bookers, and even another Booker of Bookers. What these awards essentially mean is that Sir Salman...moreThis novel has won the Booker Prize, The Booker of Bookers, and even another Booker of Bookers. What these awards essentially mean is that Sir Salman Ahmed Rushdie has written the GREATEST novel in the English language over the past half century. This book has stood the test of time, generations, and history as a modern classic. Fittingly, Penguin has dubbed and branded it as one. Knowing the spectacular accolades and awards this book carries, it is a daunting task to make it live up to those expectations. Thankfully, it does just that. It is difficult to offer resistance and protest; this definitely is one of the greatest novels the English language has to offer. The combination of magical realism, historical narrative, literary licenses, allegory, national tragedies, interwoven story lines, confused and switched characters, and word play amalgamate to create an enchanting and unputdownable novel.
A couple caveats, though, are in order. The first is that a basic background in Indian history is required. Not necessarily in the earlier empires like the Guptas and Mughals (though it is important to know Akbar the Great), but in respect to post 1947 history. You need to know partition, the cultural history of India and Pakistan, and the important politicians between 1947 and 1980. Unfortunately, this means knowing the Gandhi family. (An aside: Indira Gandhi sued Rushdie over one sentence that she believed defamed her. Rushdie removed the sentence and settled out of court. Of course, the offending sentence was hardly offending. The entire novel is an eloquent and elegiac condemnation of her wretched stranglehold and unconstitutional dictatorship over India. All of this is explained in the introduction to the 25th Anniversary Edition.) The other caveat is that this is Rushdie and not beach reading. It is dense, intricate, complex, convoluted, and it sends you backwards and forwards at the same time. Temporal dimensions, order, narratives, history are thrown in every which way. Structure is out the window. It is not in the vein of an infuriating William Faulkner novel and that is the fine line Rushdie excellently traverses. If you put the proper effort in, you will be rewarded. The allegory is decadently rich, though loose, and some sentences just jump off their page through their perfectly crafted construction.
The publication of the book bifurcates the founding of India and the current day. The outlook was far bleaker in the early 80s than it is now. However, the outlook is still bleak in numerous ways. I am referring to invisible women, rampant poverty, crazy nationalist parties willing to slaughter entire groups of people, the utter backwardness and stupidity of the entire UP province, the expanding divide between the South and the North, the government's proclivity towards subsidies and socialism, etc. Rushdie at the time was concerned with the abrogation of civil rights through the dictatorship of the Gandhis. Perhaps the same message should crystallize and haunt us today. The Gandhi family still continues to wield enormously unearned and hereditary influence throughout India. It is not like the British royal family, peacefully waving at adoring subjects. The power-hungry, deifying, glory-seeking family continues to induct itself into the pantheon of gods India has (which is another subject Rushdie weaves into his novel beautifully). A Gandhi is god number 330,000,001 at any point and that is what the state of emergency shows and what Rushdie warns us of. The state of emergency spells the end of India in the novel, which is perfectly captured by Saleem's death at the hands of Major Shiva. This book should have India on alert against undemocratic pols and elites interested in the abrogation rather than proper use of power. Politics and history influence all of Rushdie's creations because they are so intertwined with each other. However, Rushdie does not forget the effects that individual actors can have on the system. Midnight's Children, representing the promise and dream of India, may have been slaughtered by Indira and the purges, but the optimistic message is that the hope of regeneration exists. (less)