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The Grammar of IdentityTransnational Fiction and the Nature of the Boundary$
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Stephen Clingman

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199278497

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278497.001.0001

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Combination, Divination

Combination, Divination

Salman Rushdie

(p.99) 3 Combination, Divination
The Grammar of Identity

Stephen Clingman

Oxford University Press

Salman Rushdie is the most ebullient of transnational writers, and central to this are formal features, embedded as the inner DNA of his fiction. Among them is the key figure of chiasmus which, with its ‘X-like’ crossings, invokes metonymy, reversal, inversion. In Midnight's Children it is the key to identity itself, running through every level of the text. What this means, among other things, is that in a world of incessant contiguities, metonymy trumps biology when it comes to definitions of the self. If this makes Midnight's Children a novel which encodes the transnational within the national, then The Satanic Verses takes those patterns even further, with its chiastic metonymies of place, time, waking life, and dream, as well as religion and doubt. The result in Rushdie's work is a philosophy of excess in which identity and place cannot be contained.

Keywords:   chiasmus, excess, identity, metonymy, Midnight's Children, national and transnational, Rushdie, The Satanic Verses, transnational fiction

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