A Reader's Guide to Japanese Literature by J. Thomas Rimer

By J. Thomas Rimer

Presents tale outlines, authors' biographies, and guidance for studying fifty chosen works of jap literature from the classical and smooth classes.

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4 This, Rushdie argues, ‘looks very like the plan of a man who has given up the struggle’: ‘Even though he knows that ‘there is no such thing as keeping out of politics’, he attempts the construction of a mechanism with just that purpose’ (IHL, 96). Whilst Rushdie does not ‘presume to blame [Orwell] for adopting this position’, living as he did ‘in the worst of times’ (IHL, 96–7), he does insist that it is important to dispute his conclusions, because: The quietist option, the exhortation to submit to events, is an intrinsically conservative one.

Whereas in the late 1980s he was able to insist that he belonged to a community – even if it wasn’t a community with a single cultural or geographical focus (a stereoscopical community) – by 1999 he was arguing that he had come down on the side of those who by preference, nature or circumstance simply do not belong. This unbelonging – I think of it as disorientation, loss of the East – is my artistic country now. Wherever my books find themselves … that’s my only home. (SAL, 294) This removal of cultural and political grounding in Rushdie’s later years may help to explain the shift in his political focus, from selective, specific engagements with relatively local (albeit still quite broad) socio-cultural scenarios, towards ranging meditations on the global, multi-national situation.

Indd 38 30/4/07 14:56:20 Writing in English 39 they live ‘in many cases, outside India’ and so are ‘deracinated to the point that their work lacks the spiritual dimension essential for a ‘true’ understanding of the soul of India’, and, finally, fifth, they suffer from what Pankaj Mishra has called ‘Rushdie-itis’ – a condition, according to Mishra, that has ‘claimed Rushdie himself in his later works’ (SAL, 164). 20 He nevertheless goes on to offer a range of arguments in response to the criticisms, which, on the whole, seem to start by conceding the truth of the allegation, only to contest the deductions made on its basis.

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