Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rushdie challenges definition of fantasy

When people think of fantasy, they tend to think of it as something that lets us escape from our own dull lives to go wield swords against orcs and dragons in fantastical lands. Fantasy offers us an opportunity to play the part of the hero or the damsel in distress, perhaps leaving us with some trite moral at the end of the story. Emory’s Distinguished Writer in Residence Salman Rushdie refuted this notion of fantasy as a pleasant, childish experience in his lecture on Sunday at Glenn Memorial.

Rushdie’s lecture addressed the topics of the “wonderland” and “literature of the fantastic,” arguing for the inherent realism of the fantasy genre — not because of realism in detail, or naturalism, but because of realism in the study of human nature. According to Rushdie, fantasy novels or novels with fantastic elements merely use different methods to explain the same human realities as other novels.

Born in India and educated at Cambridge, Rushdie has gained lasting acclaim for his books written in the second half of the 20th century. His second novel, Midnight’s Children (1981), won the Booker Prize in 1981 and later the Booker of Bookers, awarded for the best Booker winner in fiction on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the prize. He was also declared a Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth II. Of course, Rushdie is perhaps best known for his controversial Satanic Verses (1988), which generated an enormous backlash from many in the global Muslim community and resulted in a fatwa calling for his assassination being issued by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran. For this reason, Rushdie spent several years under the protection of the British police.

Full report here

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