Rushdie, Salman: The Satanic Verses
(researched by Bryan Maxwell)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Salman Rushdie. The Satanic Verses. New York: Viking Penguin, 1989. Copyright: Salman Rushdie, 1988. The above refers to the First American edition. The First British edition was published in 1988 in London by Viking and has the same pagination and physical measurements. No copy of the First British edition was available for comparison to the First American edition. The first American paperback edition was published in 1992.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first American edition is published in trade cloth binding.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
280 leaves, pp. [10] [1-2] 3-9 [10] 11-31 [32] 33-72 [73] 74-86 [87-90] 91-125 [126-128] 129-141 [142] 143-155 [156] 157-170 [171] 172-187 [188] 189-201 [202-204] 205-239 [240-242] 243-293 [294] 295-355 [356-358] 359-393 [394-396] 397-418 [419] 420-447 [448] 449-468 [469-472] 473-506 [507-510] 511-546 [547-550]
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
Not edited or introduced. The edition is dedicated "For Marianne," which proves upon subsequent examination to be his wife, whom he married the same year The Satanic Verses was published (1988).
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
Not illustrated.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The physical appearance of the book is excellent. The page size is fairly large, 229x158 mm; text size is 179x109 mm. The margins are generous: 23 mm top, 27 mm bottom, 31 mm outer, 22 mm center. The text size and spacing are also both fairly generous, and the type is very crisp, not worn, smudged, faded, cracked, or diminished in readability in any way. The typeface is a serif font, approximately 96R. These factors contribute to excellent readability. The typeface used elsewhere than the text itself (chapter and book section pages, contents and title pages, and dust jacket) is a more ornate serif font, very similar to Trump Medieval type. The first letter of each chapter is in this typeface, bold, approximately 14x16 mm. The dust jacket is glossy, on a dark red background with a grid pattern of "+" markings. The lettering on the jacket is large, and gold-embossed with black shadowing (shadowed to the right). A large illustration (104x117 mm) is present on the cover of the dust jacket which is black filled with gold lines. The rear inside flap of the dust jacket describes this illustration: "Jacket outline illustration shows a detail from Rustam Killing the White Demon from a Clive Album in the Victoria and Albert Museum." This illustration is also present on the back cover (62x71 mm), here in white lines on a black background. The same illustration is the one present on the title page, there simply with black lines on the plain white background of the page. The inside front flap of the dust jacket contains a brief synopsis of the novel, and this continues for a few lines on the rear inside flap. A short bio of the author, accompanied by a black and white headshot photo (photographer Jerry Bauer) is present on the rear inside flap of the dust jacket. The dust jacket also contains praise for the author's other novels: Midnight Children (the back cover) and Shame (the inside rear flap).
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
Paper is smooth, white, and in virtually perfect condition. No wear, staining, fading, tears, or discoloration is present. The outside edge of some pages is rough/torn for style, others are cut. This occurs in a pattern of 8 torn, then 8 cut in consecutive sections throughout. Also, the width of the page within these sets of pages varies systematically (only slightly - within a 2-3 mm range) so that looking at the book along the axis of a single page reveals the edge formed by the outer edge of the leaves is regularly uneven, looking jagged or notched.
11 Description of binding(s)
Black trade cloth binding, fine dotted-line grain. There are no illustrations on the binding. The endpapers are plain white paper. Transcription of the spine (stamped on the spine in gold gilt): Salmon | Rushdie ; The | SATANIC VERSES ; (vertical) VIKING There is no text/stamping on the front or back covers.
12 Transcription of title page
Transcription of title page recto: The Satanic Verses | Salman Rushdie | illustration 53x60 mm | VIKING Transcription of title page verso: VIKING | Published by the Penguin Group | Viking Penguin Inc., 40 West 23rd Street, | New York, New York 10010, U.S.A. | Penguin Books Ltd, 27 Wrights Lane, | London W8 5TZ, England | Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood, | Victoria, Australia | Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 2801 John Street, | Markham, Ontario, Canada L3R 1B4 | Penguin Books (N.Z.) Ltd, 182-190, Wairau Road, | Auckland 10, New Zeland | Penguin Books Ltd, Registered offices: | Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England | First American Edition | Published in 1989 by Viking Penguin Inc. | 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 | Copyright c. Salman Rushdie, 1988 | All rights reserved | Page 549 constitutes an extension of this copyright page. | LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATA | Rusdie, Salman. | The satanic verses. | I. Title. | PR 9499.3.R8S28 1989 823 88-40266 | ISBN 0-670-82537-9 | Printed in the United States of America | Set in Bembo | Without limiting the rights under copyright | reserved above, no part of this publication | may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into | a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form | or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photo- | copying, recording or otherwise), without the | prior written permission of both the copyright | owner and the above publisher of this book.
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
By my best estimation, the author's papers have not been transferred to any museum, univeristy, institution, or corporation for holding. This suggests that at this time (September 1999) the author retains possession of his manuscripts. The author's agent in London denied specific knowledge as to the exact location of the manuscript, and refused to divulge any information they did have about the location of the author's papers. This unwillingness to share seemingly benign information may reflect the significant security concerns that have surrounded the author since the publication of The Satanic Verses over 10 years ago.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
There is no typographical information on the title page or elsewhere. This particular copy is in excellent condition. The only copy-specific detail is a marking on the face of the first page (the blank, heavier-weight paper) that says in pencil "19.95 | 52A" in the upper right-hand corner (see image in supplementary materials section). This marking may be a bookseller's marking for the price of the book followed by some code, as $19.95 is the original retail price marked on the dust jacket.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
The Satanic Verses was first published September 26, 1988 in the United Kingdom by Viking. This is the true first edition. However, the first American edition was not released in the United States until February 22, 1989. The first American edition was printed separately (in New York, 1989), and it is denoted on the title page verso specifically as the first American edition and is copyrighted separately as such. However, it is felt to represent merely a separate impression of the first printing of the novel (London, 1988), as bibliographic records give the same physical details (546 pg, 24 cm). Because of the controversial reception of the book and security issues surrounding the author and publisher, Viking refused to release a paperback version of the book, so all subsequent editions were published by corporations other than Viking. However, the original hardcover edition by Viking is still in print and readily available. It appears that no other hardcover editions have been published in the US or UK by other publishers.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
By my best estimation, there was only 1 impression of the book before the impression that appeared as the first American edition, and that was the original edition published in London. Rare book collectors and merchants (Bibliofind, American Book Exchange) list copies of the original first edition (publication date is 1988), plus copies listed as the first, second, seventh, eighth, tenth, and fourteenth printings of the American edition (publication date is 1989). This tells us that there were at least 14 printings of the first edition. However, the hardcover copy in print today appears to be the same in pagination, physical details, and cover art as the first editions, and it is still listed as having been published in 1989. So it is possible that the hardcover edition currently being produced by Viking is just a subsequent printing/impression of the first edition. No systematic listings of printings or impressions of the first edition have been located.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
There is evidence that Quality Paperback Book Club released a paperback copy of the book in 1989. The details of this publication are not known. The physical details of the book are the same as those of the subsequent paperback (546 pg, 23 cm). A narrative news article reports that the book was sold for $10. It is not known if this copy was approved by Viking, actually produced by Viking, or neither. It is also not known whether the cover art of this edition is the same as one of the other known editions or entirely different. A paperback edition of the book was published in 1992 by a company called The Consortium, Inc. This was a publishing company incorporated in the state of Delaware for the express purpose of publishing a paperback copy of The Satanic Verses. Due to the security concerns over the publication of the book and continued threats against the author and publisher, the original publisher (Viking) refused to publish a paperback edition. A group of publishers and book executives came together in the United States to produce a paperback edition of the book. This group of approximately 60 entities was identified to the public only as The Consortium, because for security and publicity reasons, all persons and groups involved wished to remain anonymous. This paperback edition of the book was published on March 25, 1992. It is not clear whether this book was produced from the same plates as the hardcover edition, as a copy was not available for typographic comparison. However, it is likely that this is the case, as the physical details of the book (546 pg, 23 cm) are almost identical to those of the first edition (546 pg, 24 cm). Please see supplemental materials for an image of the cover art of this edition. In 1997, Henry Holt and Company published a new paperback edition of the book (listed as the First Owl book edition). This is clearly a separate edition (different pagination, measurements, and cover art), and is the paperback edition in print at this time (October 1999). See heading 2.) above for an image of the cover art from this edition.
6 Last date in print?
Both hardcover (from Viking) and paperback (from Henry Holt) editions of the book are in print at this time (October 1999).
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
The most recent sales figures available are from January 1990 (less than 1 year after the book's American release). At this time, the book had sold 766,000 copies, enough to be the sixth-best seller of 1989 and the nineteenth-best seller of the 1980s.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
The first printing of the book was reportedly of 50,000 copies. Sales figures by year or by printing have not been located for the hardcover edition subsequent to the first printing. The Consortium paperback edition was printed with an initial printing of 100,000 copies, and soon thereafter had a printing of 200,000 more copies.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
Three publisher's advertisements in periodicals were located for the book. (This search was certainly not an exhaustive one, but rather an attempt to locate representative advertisements.) The first is a plain text ad (normal copy-size type), in the form of a listing of the publisher's new books for the spring of 1989, found in Publisher's Weekly, January 27, 1989, page 296. Under the heading "February," this book is the fourth listing. It reads simply, "THE SATANIC VERSES | Salman Rushdie | Fiction 0-670-82537-9 $19.95" and has no accompanying graphics or illustrations. The second is a text ad but is mostly in large print. The ad appears as a box with plain black and white text, and takes up approximately 1/4 of the page, in the upper left-hand corner of page 714 of The Bookseller, August 12, 1988 (number 4312). It reads: "SALMAN RUSHDIE | THE | SATANIC | VERSES | (thin horizontal line) | (left column under line) Wonderful stories and flights of | the imagination surround the | conflict between good and evil. | (right column under line) 12.95 September | 234 x 153 mm 544 p | 0670 825379." There are no graphical elements to the ad. The third is an almost entirely graphical ad. The main heading of the full page ad, from Publisher's Weekly, May 19, 1989, page 13, reads "Strength | In | Numbers". The ad has a photograph of nine books pictured on the page. The Satanic Verses is one of these, pictured with the same cover art as is described for the first edition (see image under Assignment 1 above), and has the superimposed label "Viking | 1 | Hardcover | Fiction". (see link to image of this ad below)
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
A21019991007012031.jpg
11 Other promotion
The advertising for this book was largely free. An enormous political controversy ensued after its initial publication, because officials in the Muslim world condemned Rushdie to death and offered a reward for his assassination. Word-of-mouth and news articles were sufficient to propel The Satanic Verses to the number one spot on the bestsellers list for 25 straight weeks. Very little print advertising was needed. The print advertisements that did appear were most commonly part of a full Viking Books ad that advertised more than this title. Personal promotion by the author has been limited because his ability to appear in public has been constrained by security concerns.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
None known.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
[Spanish] Los versos satanicos: novela. traduccion del ingles J.L. Miranda. Anagrama, Destino, et al: Barcelona and Madrid, 1989. [Portuguese] Os versiculos satanicos. traducao de Ana Luisa Faria e Miguel Serras Pereira. Publicacoes Dom Quixote Circulo de Leitores: Lisboa, 1989. [German] Die satanischen verse. Artikel 19 Verlag: Germany, 1989. [French] Les versets sataniques. traduit par A. Naiser. Christian Bourgois: Paris, 1989. [Italian] I Versi satanici. traduzione de Ettore Capriolo. Mondadori: Milano, 1989. [Polish] Szatanskie wersety. EEC, 1992. [Finnish] Saatanalliset sakeet. trans Arto Haila. Soderstrom: Porvoo, 1989. [Dutch] De duivelsverzen. 1989. (see cover art image in supplementary materials) [Canadan edition] The satanic verses: a novel. Vintage Canada: Toronto, 1997. [Macedonian] Satanski stihovi. Kultura: Skopje, 1990.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
The review of The Satanic Verses in Publisher's Weekly (Publishers Weekly Nov 18, 1988 v234 n21 p68) makes reference to serialization: "serial to Harper's." A review of Harper's Magazine reveals that a story by Salman Rushdie, titled "Untime of the Imam" was published just before the American release of The Satanic Verses (Harper's Magazine. Dec 1998, v277 n1663 p53-59.). This story is not a direct excerpt from the book, but it is obviously related. The main character is the same in name and description, and the story describes events very similar to those described at the beginning of The Satanic Verses, although in slightly different language. Because of the textual differences between this story and the book, and because no subsequent installments were found, it is felt that this does not constitute serialization. However, this story is extremely similar to the book, and perhaps this story represents an earlier version of the beginning of The Satanic Verses, and extensive rewriting took place between the time the story was submitted for publication to Harper's and the time the book was edited for publication.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
N/A
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Salman Rushdie was born Ahmed Salman Rushdie in Bombay, Maharashtra, India, to Anis Ahmed Rushdie and Negin Rushdie. He was born on June 19,1947, which was less than two months before India gained its independence from Britain on August 15, 1947. Growing up, Rushdie felt very attached to the city of Bombay and its diverse, cosmopolitan character; he said in an interview, "there's a kind of golden glow of childhood about it in my memory." Rushdie also relates that his family was Muslim but religion did not play a large role in his life early on. He describes his upbringing as more "secular humanist" than Muslim, saying that his family "certainly felt more like Indians than Muslims." He was sent to England to attend the Rugby School in 1961, at the age of 13. Rushdie described this experience as "really quite brutal," as he was the brunt of xenophobic sentiments and racial discrimination by his English peers. His family came with him and stayed in England for the first two years of his education, long enough for all of them to become British citizens. The family then moved back to Karachi, Pakistan in 1964. Rushdie went on to go to King's College at Cambridge (as had his father before him) and completed a Master's degree in history with honors in 1968 at the age of 21. After completing this degree, Rushdie went to Pakistan and worked briefly in television and publishing jobs, but returned to England soon thereafter. He was an actor at the Fringe Theatre in London for one year (1968-1969) and worked as a freelance copywriter from 1970-1973. During this period, he wrote his first novel, "The Book of the Pir" (1971), which was rejected for publication. However, in 1975, Rushdie was successful in publishing his first novel, Grimus, published by Gollancz in London. On May 22, 1976, Rushdie married Clarissa Luard, a publicist. They had one child, a son, Zafar, and they stayed married for the next 11 years. They were divorced in 1987. His second novel, Midnight's Children was published in 1981 by Cape in London. Shame, Rushdie's third novel, was published by Knopf in 1983, followed by The Jaguar Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey (1987), Rushdie's only nonfiction book. In 1988, Rushdie married Marianne Wiggins, an author. This marriage was short-lived, however, and they were divorced in 1990. Then on September 26, 1988, Rushdie's most famous work, The Satanic Verses was published in London, and then on February 22, 1989 was released in the United States, and Rushdie's life was disrupted forever. Reaction to the book was extremely fierce ? many Muslims reacted with fury to elements of the book that criticize or satirize the Muslim faith. Ironically, this was not Rushdie's intent in writing the novel. He said, "I wanted to write a novel about the act of migration and, secondly, a novel about the internal effect of migration. . . . I thought it was the least political novel I'd ever written . . . it was a novel of introspection and a novel which tried to make sense of the kind of life experience that people like me had had . . . [it was] not a book designed to shake the world . . . it really caught me unawares." Soon after the novel was published, Ayatollah Khomeni announced a fatwa, or death sentence, against Rushdie in the name of Islam and the state of Iran. Rewards of up to $5 million were placed on Rushdie's head by religious leaders, and orthodox Muslims were encouraged to assassinate the author in the name of their faith. Rushdie went into hiding shortly after this announcement, and has maintained a very secretive lifestyle ever since. Iran formally lifted the fatwa in 1995, but Rushdie still receives death threats from individuals. Rushdie later published The Moor's Last Sigh (1995), and then most recently,The Ground Beneath Her Feet (1999). At present (November 1999), Rushdie lives in secrecy in London, and is still under heavy police protection by Scotland Yard. He lives with his third wife and two-year old son, and makes a few public appearances, which are usually unannounced and heavily secured. Note: All quotes from the author are taken from the Peter Kadzis interview (see source below). Sources: Ho, Cynthia. "Salman Rushdie." Dictionary of Literary Biography: British Novelists Since 1960. Volume 194, 1998, p249-261. Kadzis, Peter. Personal Interview. The Boston Phoenix. May 6, 1999. http://www.bostonphoenix.com/archive/books/99/05/06/SALMAN_RUSHDIE.htm "Rushdie, [Ahmed] Salman." 1986 Current Biography Yearbook. p479-482. "The Salon Interview: Salman Rushdie." http://www.salon1999.com/06/features/interview.html "Rushdie, Salman." Gale Literary Databases. http://www.galenet.com "Rushdie, (Ahmed) Salman." Gale Literary Databases. http://www.galenet.com
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
If The Satanic Verses did not trigger the largest public response of any novel ever published, it must have come extremely close. The storm of opinion that erupted following the book's release left no corner of the educated free world untouched, and even some realms beyond that. As one critic put it in the opening lines of their review of the novel, "What more can one say than has been said? Never in recent memory ? perhaps never, period! ? has there been so much discussion, so much controversy, engendered by a work of fiction" (Hospital 662). The discussion that follows is an attempt at a review of this voluminous response by the world to Rushdie's novel. Such a discussion necessarily will fail to be complete ? no one could hope to locate every article written about The Satanic Verses. Surely dozens of books, several hundred articles and columns, and several thousand letters have been written in response to this work. And this limitation is compounded by the fact that much of the strongest reaction to the novel was not written, but was based on speeches, or more infamously, violent action. The bulk of the response to the novel took place immediately after it was published, but it remains a topic of scholarly (and popular) discussion now (November 1999) over 10 years after publication ? see the below section Subsequent Reception for reception information for greater than 5 years post-publication. It is somewhat unusual that only a fraction of the published response to the novel is actually a response to the text itself. A greater bulk of the public and scholarly reaction was concerned with what the novel meant to society ? indeed, many of its critics had never read it. But the reception of the text itself, taken as a work of fiction, was overwhelmingly positive. And it is important to note that Rushdie's primary motivation in writing the novel was not one of religious criticism or political commentary, but of social satire. "I felt, first of all, that I wanted to write a novel about the act of migration and, secondly, a novel about the internal effect of migration. . . . I thought it was a novel of introspection and a novel which tried to make sense of the kind of life experience that people like me had had" (Kadzis). Many reviewers expressed profound admiration at the complexity of The Satanic Verses and its rich language. One reviewer called it "one of those go-for-broke ?metafictions' ? a grand narrative and a Monty Python sendup of history, religion, and popular culture" (Leonard 346). Another said the book "is full of extravagant language, rampant fantasies and kaleidoscopic plotting. . . .it's remarkably easy to follow and a constant delight to read. Rushdie is a master storyteller and a thoroughly refined stylist, and he draws us into the lives and longings of his characters as surely as Dickens" (Shapiro 73). Perhaps his most serious reviewer, U.Va. English Professor Mark Edmundson, praised the book's complexity and hopefulness in declaring it an important postmodern work, saying that the novel is
"something more than a novelistic indictment; it also gestures hopefully toward the future. . . . Rushdie's power to be both a sophisticated debunker and a secular prophet of renewal. . . is the first major realization of this double design. . . . As bristlingly cruel as The Satanic Verses can sometimes be, overall it gestures forward to a world that will contain more possibilities, more variety, and perhaps, more hope. (Edmundson 62-70)
Also, it is interesting to note that many critics remarked (before the Muslim response to the book and its resulting popularity) that The Satanic Verses was not Rushdie's best novel. "Salman Rushdie may never equal the brilliance of his second novel, Midnight's Children, but in this, his fourth novel, he comes close" (Virginia Quarterly Review 91). Another critic noted "The Satanic Verses doesn't have the pace and the excitement of Midnight's Children, or the bitter concentration of Shame. . . . This is Rushdie's most bewildered book, but it is also his most thoughtful" (Wood 29). Other writers praised Rushdie's command of language and stylistic ability in storytelling: "he treats the language as though he owned it. . . one feels on every page how much he loves to read and write" (Leithauser 127). Some reviewers compared Rushdie to writers such as James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, and Gunter Grass. However, the reaction that most people who lived through "The Rushdie Affair" will remember were not primarily concerned with the text or its stylistic or aesthetic qualities, but with its political implications. In one phase of the book, Rushdie uses names and allusions that implicate the Islamic faith, and he utilizes these characters in a manner that many viewed as irreverent. And it was this section of the book that sparked the violent opposition from Muslims and their defenders worldwide. On February 14, 1989, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni of Iran announced on Iran radio: "I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of The Satanic Verses book which is against Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran, and all involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death." Khomeni added that anyone who died in an attempt to rid the world of Rushdie would "be regarded as a martyr and go directly to heaven" (MacDonogh 130). This death sentence was be backed by reward money from private and church sources in Iran, eventually reaching upwards of $5 million reward for the assassination of Rushdie. Following Khomeni's decree, the Muslim world reacted passionately to Rushdie's novel. The book was banned in India, Sudan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, among other nations. Violence also resulted from the outrage at the novel: the book was burned worldwide; bomb threats were common in publishing offices and bookstores in Britain and the U.S.; the Italian translator of the novel was stabbed and seriously injured; the Japanese translator was killed; a Muslim leader in Belgium who had critized Iran's reaction (along with his deputy) were shot and killed; firebombs and pipebombs were detonated at bookstores in California; and riotous protests in Great Britain, Europe, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, among other nations, resulted in the injury and deaths of several hundred Muslim protestors. Rushdie was forced to go into hiding shortly after the Ayatollah's imposition of the death threat. He and his wife, Marrianne Higgins (to whom The Satanic Verses is dedicated) began to receive protection by Scotland Yard. They have not to this day (November 1999) relinquished that protection. For the 10 years since the fatwa was imposed, Rushdie has continued to live in hiding, moving between British-controlled safe houses in the U.K., and he has continued to receive death threats. Khomeni died less than a year after his death sentence of Rushdie, but the fatwa was reaffirmed by subsequent heads of state in Iran. In September 1998, almost ten years after it was proclaimed, the fatwa was officially lifted by the state of Iran in the United Nations and the state-sanctioned reward nullified. But some fundamentalist Muslims have ignored this action, and have continued efforts to assassinate Rushdie ? they still offer a multimillion dollar bounty (Carlin interview). Many observers have stated that the Muslim reaction to The Satanic Verses was largely political, not religious. The book did contain material that was offensive to many Muslims, but many noted that other works that are potentially much more offensive and direct in their attack of Islam have not drawn nearly the same sort of response from the Muslim world. Instead, some have concluded that the Ayatollah "decided to whip up a new wave of fanaticism because he sensed that the fundamentalist tide has been ebbing in most of the Moslem world" (Carter 47). As a result, the debate about The Satanic Verses has become not one just about the novel, but about Islam and Christianity, British and Indian identity, and relations between the East and West. "Rushdie is not the target. Rushdie is trapped, rather, in a bitter fight between ?hard-liners' and ?pragmatists' over the future of Iran's relationship to the West" ("Two Cheers for Blasphemy" 8). Rushdie himself said, "The point regarding the case of The Satanic Verses is this: because of the attention paid to it, it has become the symbol and the archetype of all other cases of repression. Those medieval dogs of war, ?blasphemy' and ?heresy', have been let slip ? and we must not forget that throughout human history ?blasphemy' and ?heresy' have been used to shackle and muzzle the human spirit, the free voice" (quoted in MacDonogh 122). Muslims were furious at what they viewed as an intentional blaspheming of their religion, the prophet Mohammed, and sacred text the Koran: "his transgression is that he has surrounded the Prophet and the revelations with pornography. There is no legitimate reason for this" (Ahsan 108). And "We Muslims are a tolerant people but we cannot bear insult. . . . What he has written is far worse to Muslims than if he had raped one's own daughter" (Ruthven 29). Some charged Rushdie with being entirely commercially-minded and intentionally blaspheming the Muslim faith to make money: said one, Rushdie is "a self-hating Indo-Anglian, totally alienated from his culture, who has also learnt that it is possible to make money by selling self-hate" (Ahsan 143). Muslims were not the only ones who condemned Rushdie's work. Noted American conservative Pat Buchanan commented, "he is a literary vandal who engages in the fictional equivalent of defiling churches and desecrating synagogues" (quoted in Edwords 29-30). Former President Jimmy Carter said, "Western leaders should make it clear that in protecting Rushdie's life and civil rights, there is no endorsement of an insult to the sacred beliefs of our Muslim friends" (quoted in Ahsan 90). Fellow author John LeCarre criticized Rushdie: "Nobody has a God-given right to insult a great religion and be published with impunity" (quoted in "Not a God-Given Right" 74). In response to Rushdie's attackers, members of the literary community around the world embraced Rushdie's cause as one of the cause of free speech itself. Press organizations, groups of individual authors, governments, and members of the publishing industry around the world wrote expressing their commitment to Rushdie's defense and the defense of freedom of expression. The most significant of letters to Rushdie himself were published in 1992 as an effort of the group Article 19: The Rushdie Letters: Freedom to Speak, Freedom to Write (see MacDonogh). Article 19 was a London-based group dedicated to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which reads, "Everyone has the right of freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." As a result of the intensely polarized global reaction to the novel, the book became a huge commercial success. The hardback edition sold over a million copies in all, which normally would have been more than enough to justify the release of a paperback edition. However, there was intense opposition to a paperback, largely because of threats of violence to booksellers who agreed to carry the book. The original publisher, Viking/Penguin first delayed the paperback publication, and then effectively altogether cancelled it. But a group of anonymous members of the publication industry incorporated The Consortium for the sole purpose of publishing a paperback copy of The Satanic Verses. This paperback was published by this group in 1992. Sources (by author; anonymous sources are referred to by title or source): "Not a God-Given Right." World Press Review. 37(3):74. March 1990. "Salman Rushdie: A Collage of Comment." New Perspectives Quarterly. 6(1):48-55. Spring 1989. "Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses." Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 55 (1989) "Satanic Verses." The Economist. 309(7573):101. October 22, 1988. "The Satanic Verses." Virginia Quarterly Review. 65(3):91. Summer 1989. "Talk of the Town." New Yorker. 65(3):27. March 6, 1989. "Two Cheers for Blasphemy." The New Republic. 200(11):7-9. March 13, 1989. "Viewpoints." [Collected quotations.] World Press Review. 36(4):8-9. April 1989. "War of the words." Commonweal. 116(5):131. March 10, 1989. Ahsan, M.M. Sacrilege versus Civility. Ed by M.M. Ahsan and A.R. Kidwal. The Islamic Foundation: England, 1991. Ali, S. Rashadeth. The Satanic Conspiracy. Peacock: Calcutta, 1990. Amiel, Barbara. "Separating the man from the cause." MacLean's. 102(11):9. March 13, 1989. Aravamudan, Srinivas. "?Being God's Postman Is No Fun, Yaar': Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses." Diacritics. 19(2):3-20. 1989. Baker, John F. "How Rushdie's Publishers See the Crisis." Publisher's Weekly. 235(9):27. March 3,1989. Baker, John F. "A Rushdie Paperback?" Publisher's Weekly. 236(14):6. October 13, 1989. Baker, John F. "To Kill for a Book?" Publisher's Weekly. 235(9):22. March 3,1989. Buckely, William F., Jr. "On Protecting the Honor of the Koran." National Review. 41(6):62-3. April 7, 1989. Carlin, John. "An author's dark fame." Interview in The Montreal Gazette. May 30, 1999 Carter, Susan. "Why the Ayatollah is Whipping Up a New Wave of Fanaticism." Business Week. 3094:47. March 6, 1989. Cockburn, Alexander. "Beat the Devil." The Nation. 248(11):366-7. March 20, 1989. Dajani-Shakeel, Hadia. "A Scholar Examines the Text." MacLean's. 102(9):21. February 27, 1989. Decter, Midge. "The Rushdiad." Commentary. 87(6):18-23. June 1989. Dhondy, Farrukh. "A Satanic Sermon." Index on Censorship. 18(5):back cover. May/June 1989. Edmundson, Mark. "Prophet of New Postmodernism." Harper's. 279(1675):62-71. December 1989. Edwords, Frederick. "Rushdie Versus the Sword of Islam." The Humanist. 49(3):5-6, 30. May/June 1989. Fuentes, Carlos. "Sacred Truth, Novelistic Truths." Harper's. 278(1668):17-8. May 1989. Garvey, John. "Offensive Defenders: Rushdie's Rights and Wrongs." Commonweal. 116(6):166-8. March 24, 1989. Goetz, Ronald. "On Blasphemy: Advice for the Ayatollah." Christian Century. 106(8):253-5. March 8, 1989 Gray, Paul. "An Explosive Reception." Time. February 13, 1989. p82. Gutmann, Stephanie. "Secular Sermon." The New Republic. 200(12):4, 49. March 20, 1989. Hampshire, Carole. "Fiction is Fiction." Meanjin. 48: 161-6. Autumn 1989. Hospital, C.G. "The Satanic Verses." Queen's Quarterly. 96(3):662. Autumn 1989. Hussain, Mushahid. "A Muslim's perspective." Index on Censorship. 19(4):12. April 1990. Iyer, Pico. "Prosaic Justice All Around." Time. 133(10):84. March 6, 1989. Johnson, Steve. "Rushdie Furor Highlights the Nature of Islamic Faith." Christianity Today. 33:38-9. April 7, 1989. Kadzis, Peter. "Salman speaks." Interview with The Boston Phoenix. May 6, 1999. Kerr, David. "The Satanic Verses and Beyond." Christian Century. 106(11):354-8. April 5, 1989. Knoll, Erwin. "Our Own Ayatollahs." The Progressive. 53:4. April 1989. Kolenda, Konstantin. "Killing for God." The Humanist. 49(3):47. May/June 1989. Leithauser, Brad. "Demoniasis." The New Yorker. 65(13):124-8. May 15, 1989. Leo, John. "In Search of the Middle Ground." U.S. News and World Report. 106(9):30. March 6, 1989. Leonard, John. "Who Has the Best Tunes?" The Nation. 248(9):346-9. March 13, 1989. MacDonogh, Steve. "Fiction, fact, and the fatwa." The Rushdie Letters. Ed. Steve MacDonogh. University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln, 1993. p130-183. Mallon, Elias D. "Offense and Counter-offense." America. 160(13):327-9. April 8, 1989. Mojtabai, A.G. "Magical Mystery Pilgrimage." The New York Times Book Review. January 29, 1989. p3, 37. Muck, Terry C. "Unrighteous Indignation." Christianity Today. 33:14. April 7, 1989. O'Brien, Maureen J. "The Rushdie Crisis." Publisher's Weekly. 236(13):45-8. September 29, 1989. Peretz, Martin. "Embroiled Salman." The New Republic. 200(12):50. March 20, 1989. Phillips, Andrew. "A ?blockbuster' ban." MacLean's. 103(32):46. August 6, 1990. Pipes, Daniel. "The Ayatollah, the Novelist, and the West." Commentary. 87(6):9-17. June 1989. Pipes, Danile. The Rushdie Affair. Birch Lane Press, New York, 1990. Pritchard, William H. "Realism Without Magic." Hudson Review. 42(3):491-2. Autumn 1989. Rosenblatt, Roger. "Zealots with fear in their eyes." U.S. News and World Report. 106(8):8-11). February 27, 1989. Rushdie, Salman. "The Book Burning." The New York Review of Books. 36(3):25. March 2, 1989. Ruthven, Malise. Chatto and Windus: London, 1990. Sanneh, Lamin. "Rushdie's Moral Hegira." The Christian Century. 106(20)622. June 21-8, 1989. Shapiro, Laura. "The Devil Made Him Do It." Newsweek. February 6, 1989. p73. Wade, Alan. "Rushdie in Wonderland.' The New Leader. 72(4):19. February 20, 1989. Walzer, Michael. "The Sins of Salman." The New Republic. 200(15):13-5. April 10, 1989. Wood, Michael. "The Prophet Motive." The New Republic. 200(10):28. March 6, 1989.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
If The Satanic Verses did not trigger the largest public response of any novel ever published, it must have come extremely close. The storm of opinion that erupted following the book's release left no corner of the educated free world untouched, and even some realms beyond that. As one critic put it in the opening lines of their review of the novel, "What more can one say than has been said? Never in recent memory ? perhaps never, period! ? has there been so much discussion, so much controversy, engendered by a work of fiction" (Hospital 662). The discussion that follows is an attempt at a review of this voluminous response by the world to Rushdie's novel. Such a discussion necessarily will fail to be complete ? no one could hope to locate every article written about The Satanic Verses. Surely dozens of books, several hundred articles and columns, and several thousand letters have been written in response to this work. And this limitation is compounded by the fact that much of the strongest reaction to the novel was not written, but was based on speeches, or more infamously, violent action. The bulk of the response to the novel took place immediately after it was published, but it remains a topic of scholarly (and popular) discussion now (November 1999) over 10 years after publication ? see the below section Subsequent Reception for reception information for greater than 5 years post-publication. It is somewhat unusual that only a fraction of the published response to the novel is actually a response to the text itself. A greater bulk of the public and scholarly reaction was concerned with what the novel meant to society ? indeed, many of its critics had never read it. But the reception of the text itself, taken as a work of fiction, was overwhelmingly positive. And it is important to note that Rushdie's primary motivation in writing the novel was not one of religious criticism or political commentary, but of social satire. "I felt, first of all, that I wanted to write a novel about the act of migration and, secondly, a novel about the internal effect of migration. . . . I thought it was a novel of introspection and a novel which tried to make sense of the kind of life experience that people like me had had" (Kadzis). Many reviewers expressed profound admiration at the complexity of The Satanic Verses and its rich language. One reviewer called it "one of those go-for-broke ?metafictions' ? a grand narrative and a Monty Python sendup of history, religion, and popular culture" (Leonard 346). Another said the book "is full of extravagant language, rampant fantasies and kaleidoscopic plotting. . . .it's remarkably easy to follow and a constant delight to read. Rushdie is a master storyteller and a thoroughly refined stylist, and he draws us into the lives and longings of his characters as surely as Dickens" (Shapiro 73). Perhaps his most serious reviewer, U.Va. English Professor Mark Edmundson, praised the book's complexity and hopefulness in declaring it an important postmodern work, saying that the novel is
"something more than a novelistic indictment; it also gestures hopefully toward the future. . . . Rushdie's power to be both a sophisticated debunker and a secular prophet of renewal. . . is the first major realization of this double design. . . . As bristlingly cruel as The Satanic Verses can sometimes be, overall it gestures forward to a world that will contain more possibilities, more variety, and perhaps, more hope. (Edmundson 62-70)
Also, it is interesting to note that many critics remarked (before the Muslim response to the book and its resulting popularity) that The Satanic Verses was not Rushdie's best novel. "Salman Rushdie may never equal the brilliance of his second novel, Midnight's Children, but in this, his fourth novel, he comes close" (Virginia Quarterly Review 91). Another critic noted "The Satanic Verses doesn't have the pace and the excitement of Midnight's Children, or the bitter concentration of Shame. . . . This is Rushdie's most bewildered book, but it is also his most thoughtful" (Wood 29). Other writers praised Rushdie's command of language and stylistic ability in storytelling: "he treats the language as though he owned it. . . one feels on every page how much he loves to read and write" (Leithauser 127). Some reviewers compared Rushdie to writers such as James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, and Gunter Grass. However, the reaction that most people who lived through "The Rushdie Affair" will remember were not primarily concerned with the text or its stylistic or aesthetic qualities, but with its political implications. In one phase of the book, Rushdie uses names and allusions that implicate the Islamic faith, and he utilizes these characters in a manner that many viewed as irreverent. And it was this section of the book that sparked the violent opposition from Muslims and their defenders worldwide. On February 14, 1989, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni of Iran announced on Iran radio: "I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of The Satanic Verses book which is against Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran, and all involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death." Khomeni added that anyone who died in an attempt to rid the world of Rushdie would "be regarded as a martyr and go directly to heaven" (MacDonogh 130). This death sentence was be backed by reward money from private and church sources in Iran, eventually reaching upwards of $5 million reward for the assassination of Rushdie. Following Khomeni's decree, the Muslim world reacted passionately to Rushdie's novel. The book was banned in India, Sudan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, among other nations. Violence also resulted from the outrage at the novel: the book was burned worldwide; bomb threats were common in publishing offices and bookstores in Britain and the U.S.; the Italian translator of the novel was stabbed and seriously injured; the Japanese translator was killed; a Muslim leader in Belgium who had critized Iran's reaction (along with his deputy) were shot and killed; firebombs and pipebombs were detonated at bookstores in California; and riotous protests in Great Britain, Europe, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, among other nations, resulted in the injury and deaths of several hundred Muslim protestors. Rushdie was forced to go into hiding shortly after the Ayatollah's imposition of the death threat. He and his wife, Marrianne Higgins (to whom The Satanic Verses is dedicated) began to receive protection by Scotland Yard. They have not to this day (November 1999) relinquished that protection. For the 10 years since the fatwa was imposed, Rushdie has continued to live in hiding, moving between British-controlled safe houses in the U.K., and he has continued to receive death threats. Khomeni died less than a year after his death sentence of Rushdie, but the fatwa was reaffirmed by subsequent heads of state in Iran. In September 1998, almost ten years after it was proclaimed, the fatwa was officially lifted by the state of Iran in the United Nations and the state-sanctioned reward nullified. But some fundamentalist Muslims have ignored this action, and have continued efforts to assassinate Rushdie ? they still offer a multimillion dollar bounty (Carlin interview). Many observers have stated that the Muslim reaction to The Satanic Verses was largely political, not religious. The book did contain material that was offensive to many Muslims, but many noted that other works that are potentially much more offensive and direct in their attack of Islam have not drawn nearly the same sort of response from the Muslim world. Instead, some have concluded that the Ayatollah "decided to whip up a new wave of fanaticism because he sensed that the fundamentalist tide has been ebbing in most of the Moslem world" (Carter 47). As a result, the debate about The Satanic Verses has become not one just about the novel, but about Islam and Christianity, British and Indian identity, and relations between the East and West. "Rushdie is not the target. Rushdie is trapped, rather, in a bitter fight between ?hard-liners' and ?pragmatists' over the future of Iran's relationship to the West" ("Two Cheers for Blasphemy" 8). Rushdie himself said, "The point regarding the case of The Satanic Verses is this: because of the attention paid to it, it has become the symbol and the archetype of all other cases of repression. Those medieval dogs of war, ?blasphemy' and ?heresy', have been let slip ? and we must not forget that throughout human history ?blasphemy' and ?heresy' have been used to shackle and muzzle the human spirit, the free voice" (quoted in MacDonogh 122). Muslims were furious at what they viewed as an intentional blaspheming of their religion, the prophet Mohammed, and sacred text the Koran: "his transgression is that he has surrounded the Prophet and the revelations with pornography. There is no legitimate reason for this" (Ahsan 108). And "We Muslims are a tolerant people but we cannot bear insult. . . . What he has written is far worse to Muslims than if he had raped one's own daughter" (Ruthven 29). Some charged Rushdie with being entirely commercially-minded and intentionally blaspheming the Muslim faith to make money: said one, Rushdie is "a self-hating Indo-Anglian, totally alienated from his culture, who has also learnt that it is possible to make money by selling self-hate" (Ahsan 143). Muslims were not the only ones who condemned Rushdie's work. Noted American conservative Pat Buchanan commented, "he is a literary vandal who engages in the fictional equivalent of defiling churches and desecrating synagogues" (quoted in Edwords 29-30). Former President Jimmy Carter said, "Western leaders should make it clear that in protecting Rushdie's life and civil rights, there is no endorsement of an insult to the sacred beliefs of our Muslim friends" (quoted in Ahsan 90). Fellow author John LeCarre criticized Rushdie: "Nobody has a God-given right to insult a great religion and be published with impunity" (quoted in "Not a God-Given Right" 74). In response to Rushdie's attackers, members of the literary community around the world embraced Rushdie's cause as one of the cause of free speech itself. Press organizations, groups of individual authors, governments, and members of the publishing industry around the world wrote expressing their commitment to Rushdie's defense and the defense of freedom of expression. The most significant of letters to Rushdie himself were published in 1992 as an effort of the group Article 19: The Rushdie Letters: Freedom to Speak, Freedom to Write (see MacDonogh). Article 19 was a London-based group dedicated to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which reads, "Everyone has the right of freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." As a result of the intensely polarized global reaction to the novel, the book became a huge commercial success. The hardback edition sold over a million copies in all, which normally would have been more than enough to justify the release of a paperback edition. However, there was intense opposition to a paperback, largely because of threats of violence to booksellers who agreed to carry the book. The original publisher, Viking/Penguin first delayed the paperback publication, and then effectively altogether cancelled it. But a group of anonymous members of the publication industry incorporated The Consortium for the sole purpose of publishing a paperback copy of The Satanic Verses. This paperback was published by this group in 1992. Sources (by author; anonymous sources are referred to by title or source): "Not a God-Given Right." World Press Review. 37(3):74. March 1990. "Salman Rushdie: A Collage of Comment." New Perspectives Quarterly. 6(1):48-55. Spring 1989. "Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses." Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 55 (1989) "Satanic Verses." The Economist. 309(7573):101. October 22, 1988. "The Satanic Verses." Virginia Quarterly Review. 65(3):91. Summer 1989. "Talk of the Town." New Yorker. 65(3):27. March 6, 1989. "Two Cheers for Blasphemy." The New Republic. 200(11):7-9. March 13, 1989. "Viewpoints." [Collected quotations.] World Press Review. 36(4):8-9. April 1989. "War of the words." Commonweal. 116(5):131. March 10, 1989. Ahsan, M.M. Sacrilege versus Civility. Ed by M.M. Ahsan and A.R. Kidwal. The Islamic Foundation: England, 1991. Ali, S. Rashadeth. The Satanic Conspiracy. Peacock: Calcutta, 1990. Amiel, Barbara. "Separating the man from the cause." MacLean's. 102(11):9. March 13, 1989. Aravamudan, Srinivas. "?Being God's Postman Is No Fun, Yaar': Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses." Diacritics. 19(2):3-20. 1989. Baker, John F. "How Rushdie's Publishers See the Crisis." Publisher's Weekly. 235(9):27. March 3,1989. Baker, John F. "A Rushdie Paperback?" Publisher's Weekly. 236(14):6. October 13, 1989. Baker, John F. "To Kill for a Book?" Publisher's Weekly. 235(9):22. March 3,1989. Buckely, William F., Jr. "On Protecting the Honor of the Koran." National Review. 41(6):62-3. April 7, 1989. Carlin, John. "An author's dark fame." Interview in The Montreal Gazette. May 30, 1999 Carter, Susan. "Why the Ayatollah is Whipping Up a New Wave of Fanaticism." Business Week. 3094:47. March 6, 1989. Cockburn, Alexander. "Beat the Devil." The Nation. 248(11):366-7. March 20, 1989. Dajani-Shakeel, Hadia. "A Scholar Examines the Text." MacLean's. 102(9):21. February 27, 1989. Decter, Midge. "The Rushdiad." Commentary. 87(6):18-23. June 1989. Dhondy, Farrukh. "A Satanic Sermon." Index on Censorship. 18(5):back cover. May/June 1989. Edmundson, Mark. "Prophet of New Postmodernism." Harper's. 279(1675):62-71. December 1989. Edwords, Frederick. "Rushdie Versus the Sword of Islam." The Humanist. 49(3):5-6, 30. May/June 1989. Fuentes, Carlos. "Sacred Truth, Novelistic Truths." Harper's. 278(1668):17-8. May 1989. Garvey, John. "Offensive Defenders: Rushdie's Rights and Wrongs." Commonweal. 116(6):166-8. March 24, 1989. Goetz, Ronald. "On Blasphemy: Advice for the Ayatollah." Christian Century. 106(8):253-5. March 8, 1989 Gray, Paul. "An Explosive Reception." Time. February 13, 1989. p82. Gutmann, Stephanie. "Secular Sermon." The New Republic. 200(12):4, 49. March 20, 1989. Hampshire, Carole. "Fiction is Fiction." Meanjin. 48: 161-6. Autumn 1989. Hospital, C.G. "The Satanic Verses." Queen's Quarterly. 96(3):662. Autumn 1989. Hussain, Mushahid. "A Muslim's perspective." Index on Censorship. 19(4):12. April 1990. Iyer, Pico. "Prosaic Justice All Around." Time. 133(10):84. March 6, 1989. Johnson, Steve. "Rushdie Furor Highlights the Nature of Islamic Faith." Christianity Today. 33:38-9. April 7, 1989. Kadzis, Peter. "Salman speaks." Interview with The Boston Phoenix. May 6, 1999. Kerr, David. "The Satanic Verses and Beyond." Christian Century. 106(11):354-8. April 5, 1989. Knoll, Erwin. "Our Own Ayatollahs." The Progressive. 53:4. April 1989. Kolenda, Konstantin. "Killing for God." The Humanist. 49(3):47. May/June 1989. Leithauser, Brad. "Demoniasis." The New Yorker. 65(13):124-8. May 15, 1989. Leo, John. "In Search of the Middle Ground." U.S. News and World Report. 106(9):30. March 6, 1989. Leonard, John. "Who Has the Best Tunes?" The Nation. 248(9):346-9. March 13, 1989. MacDonogh, Steve. "Fiction, fact, and the fatwa." The Rushdie Letters. Ed. Steve MacDonogh. University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln, 1993. p130-183. Mallon, Elias D. "Offense and Counter-offense." America. 160(13):327-9. April 8, 1989. Mojtabai, A.G. "Magical Mystery Pilgrimage." The New York Times Book Review. January 29, 1989. p3, 37. Muck, Terry C. "Unrighteous Indignation." Christianity Today. 33:14. April 7, 1989. O'Brien, Maureen J. "The Rushdie Crisis." Publisher's Weekly. 236(13):45-8. September 29, 1989. Peretz, Martin. "Embroiled Salman." The New Republic. 200(12):50. March 20, 1989. Phillips, Andrew. "A ?blockbuster' ban." MacLean's. 103(32):46. August 6, 1990. Pipes, Daniel. "The Ayatollah, the Novelist, and the West." Commentary. 87(6):9-17. June 1989. Pipes, Danile. The Rushdie Affair. Birch Lane Press, New York, 1990. Pritchard, William H. "Realism Without Magic." Hudson Review. 42(3):491-2. Autumn 1989. Rosenblatt, Roger. "Zealots with fear in their eyes." U.S. News and World Report. 106(8):8-11). February 27, 1989. Rushdie, Salman. "The Book Burning." The New York Review of Books. 36(3):25. March 2, 1989. Ruthven, Malise.
Chatto and Windus: London, 1990. Sanneh, Lamin. "Rushdie's Moral Hegira." The Christian Century. 106(20)622. June 21-8, 1989. Shapiro, Laura. "The Devil Made Him Do It." Newsweek. February 6, 1989. p73. Wade, Alan. "Rushdie in Wonderland.' The New Leader. 72(4):19. February 20, 1989. Walzer, Michael. "The Sins of Salman." The New Republic. 200(15):13-5. April 10, 1989. Wood, Michael. "The Prophet Motive." The New Republic. 200(10):28. March 6, 1989.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
The Satanic Verses sets out primarily to explore the conflicts created for Indian immigrants by cultural differences between the West and Middle East - specifically, between India and Britain. But because of those very differences and the conflicts they produce, the book is unsuccessful in communicating its commentary on the immigrant experience to most readers and critics. Instead, reaction to (and therefore, discussion of) the novel becomes centered on the offensiveness of the book's criticisms of Islam and the degree to which those criticisms ought to be protected speech. The intense and public scandal that resulted from the novel therefore kept readers from grasping the intended primary thrust of the book. Yet this scandal was the main reason the novel was a bestseller. The Satanic Verses, then, is an example of the class of best-selling novels that are not bestsellers because of anything that involves the actual text of the book, but rather because of publicity from other origins. This novel is perhaps too extreme to be seen as the average bestseller of this category; very few, if any, bestsellers have prompted serious and sustained threats of death against the author. However, an examination of the text and reception of The Satanic Verses is still useful in understanding the group of bestsellers that owe its popular status to public reaction, but reaction not concerned with the text itself. It is first crucial to understand that Rushdie's intent in writing The Satanic Verses was not to create a work of religious satire, but rather to write a novel exploring issues of identity that are important to the immigrant. The author explained,
The Satanic Verses is not, in my view, an anti-religious novel. It is, however, an attempt to write about migration, its stresses and transformations, from the point of view of migrants from the Indian subcontinent to Britain. This is, for me, the saddest irony of all; that after working for five years to give voice and fictional flesh to the immigrant culture of which I am myself a member, I should see my book burned, largely unread, by the people it's about, people who might find some pleasure and much recognition in its pages. (Rushdie 223)
Likewise, the initial reception of The Satanic Verses focused largely on this aspect of the book. The earliest reviews and critical responses to the novel -- that is, reception that occurred before the Muslim political reaction to the book did -- necessarily reacted exclusively to the text. In doing so, they focused on the book's discussion of immigration issues more than the book's religious criticisms.
The Satanic Verses is really a novel about the metamorphosis of the contemporary world brought about by migration and communication. It is about the conflicts within individuals and between cultures that result from the immediate juxtaposition in time (mass media, telecommunications) and space (migration) of very different worldviews and civilizations. It is a novel about the conflicts and spiritual dislocation of fragmented individuals in a fragmented world wrestling with its plural identities. (Gardels 48)
Another reviewer commented, "The verbal mixture embodies Saladin's (and the author's) dilemma of being from the East and now living in the West, and of trying to make the two realms cohere in his head as they obviously do not in a fractured world" (Wade 19). Other reviewers saw The Satanic Verses as not only being exploratory about inner conflict produced by cultural changes but also as being critical of the West for its role in producing that conflict: "In the end, this is a novel about trying to belong to another culture that is unable to accept difference except as otherness. It's about only being able really to belong when you've altered that culture. It's about upsetting the rigid ethnocentricity of Britain, and it's about compromise" (Hampshire 166). A similar review states, "What is telling about this fanciful and complex passage is its evocation not only of what immigrants to Britain must miss (and what they have escaped), but also of what they might bring to their adopted culture, if that culture were less scornful of them, less frightened of them" (Wood 29). Early critical reaction (i.e. reaction untainted by political responses) almost entirely saw the book's discussion of the immigrant as the primary theme worthy of comment. This pattern of focus suggests that by itself, The Satanic Verses was a successful execution of Rushdie's intent in writing the novel. It explores the cultural identity issues created by intercontinental immigration in a meaningful and thought-provoking manner. Examination of the text of The Satanic Verses supports this assessment of the novel. A majority of the book is concerned with the identity of the immigrant, with his experiences and the forces that produce those experiences, and also with the possible ways in which he might react to and be shaped by those experiences. The two protagonists, Saladin Chamcha and Gibreel Farishta, both immigrate from India to Britain, and their differing paths upon arrival are the medium through which Rushdie examines the possibilities of experience upon transplantation into a new culture. Examples of this alterative effect of migration are abundant in the text. For instance, Chamcha's given Indian name was Salahuddin Chamchawala, but his migration makes him feel a need to truncate it, to somewhat westernize his name. It becomes Saladin Chamcha. Rushdie uses this simple action (a voluntary one at that) to demonstrate the loss of Indian identity that is implicit in Chamcha's migration. As a result of that migration, Chamcha loses close to half of the name that had identified him in India: eight syllables become five. Insofar as a name is crucial to one's concept of self, this name change suggests that migrating has cost him close to half of his identity. Textual examples are present that relate to other aspects of culture and identity as well. As Farishta and Chamcha are falling out of the plane at the beginning of the novel, a point at which they are falling towards their new home but are still in the transitional stage of migration, Farishta sings a familiar song, but sings it in English: "'O my shoes are Japanese,' Gibreel sang, translating the old song into English in semi-conscious deference to the uprushing host-nation" (Satanic Verses 5). Farishta's action is not a fully conscious one -- it is clear that he is not aware of the culturally transformative effect that his migration is already having on him. This is telling about the power of the migratory destination's culture. The immigrant's sense of cultural identity that is tied to familiarity with language and choice of a language is altered. And moreover, that identity is changed without the immigrant really feeling the effects of that alteration, and even before he has actually arrived in his new country. The novel is largely concerned with these issues; many more examples could be cited. Rushdie goes to great lengths to demonstrate the pervasiveness of the transformation that migration causes, and he makes profound statements about the effects of those changes on the immigrant and his concept of identity. But the aspect of the novel to which the Muslim world reacted was not the book's discussion of the condition of the immigrant, but rather the parts of the novel that satirize Islamic beliefs and practices. It is easily seen in retrospect how these sections of the novel could be inflammatory. Though their effect is moderated by the fact that they are framed as a dream of Gibreel Farishta, who is very confused, even delusional, they suggest some strongly critical things about Islam. Rushdie depicts the prophet Mohammed as the character Mahound, which was a derogatory name used by Westerners in medieval theater to depict satanic characters. Furthermore, a group of 12 prostitutes in the novel take the names of Mohammed's 12 wives. And Rushdie's city of Jahilia, which represents the holy city of Mecca, is constructed entirely of sand, so its inhabitants live in constant fear of water, which would melt their city away. This can be seen as commentary on the fragility of a city like Mecca, as water can be interpreted as a metaphor for reason, secularism, or Western influence. These elements of the novel are difficult to interpret. One can see that Rushdie's satire may have offended Muslims. Yet, the strength of Rushdie's statements is mitigated by their framing as the mental ramblings of a confused, dreaming character, and also by the fact that they are presented in a purely fictional context. In this light, and combined with the absence of a significant reaction to other works that have been at least, if not more directly critical of Islam, the Muslim reaction seems disproportionate. Indeed, some have suggested that the Ayatollah used The Satanic Verses as a political tool; that is, that the book was "a convenient target" for the Ayatollah's efforts to "whip up a new wave of fanaticism" in an Iran that was becoming increasingly moderate and pragmatic (Carter 47). It is close to impossible to sort out the true motivations of those involved in the Rushdie Affair, or why it unfolded as it did. But it is not necessary to fully understand the controversy the book created in order to gain something from examining that controversy. The passages in the novel that were objected to constitute only a fraction of the text: one critic estimated that the controversial debate over the novel focused on less than a third of the text (Leonard 348). However, after the initial reaction of the Ayatollah to the novel in February 1989, discussion of The Satanic Verses was dominated by religiously-focused commentary on this fraction of the book. In fact, much of this discussion did not closely examine the religious aspects of the novel, but rather focused on larger conflicts over religion and free speech. The text of The Satanic Verses itself was largely lost as a subject of discussion by the literary community, and was displaced by debate within not only literary but also political, religious, and cultural contexts over issues much larger than the text. One reviewer said of Rushdie, "Almost worst of all, for a writer, his work of the imagination - and an exceptionally complex work of an uncommonly fertile imagination - is now being treated as if it were a heretic's pamphlet; The Satanic Verses has been turned from a book into a talking point" (Iyer 84). Furthermore, none of Rushdie's other books have come even close to matching the public success of The Satanic Verses. Yet many reviewers and critics consider Midnight Children (1981) his best novel. This fact, combined with the presence of a scandal that is capable of explaining widespread interest in the novel, indicates that we must look outside the pages of the novel to explain its becoming a bestseller. In other words, The Satanic Verses was a bestseller primarily because of the attention generated by the scandal it caused, instead of because of the words on the pages of the book. The Satanic Verses is not alone in this category. A number of other bestsellers have factors other that the text alone to which their success should be attributed. Quite a few books become bestsellers because of previously successful works by the same author. Books of this type sell very well as soon as they are released (before many have read or commented on it) because of the hype created by the author's previous works and by advertising. Others, like The Satanic Verses, become bestsellers largely because they cause a scandal or controversy and receive tremendous media attention as a result; people buy the book because they have heard a lot about it, or because they want to see firsthand what is so controversial. The Satanic Verses is a prime, though perhaps unusually strong, example of this category of best selling books whose popularity is attributable to the effects of controversy. Insofar as the novel represents this type of bestseller, then, it raises questions about the bestseller's place in the world of fiction. Rushdie was unsuccessful in exploring (at least for the majority of his audience) the main issue he wanted to explore with this novel -- namely, the conflicts and cultural identity problems produced by the inter-cultural act of immigration. If we measure the success of the novel in these terms, The Satanic Verses is a failure. But the curious characteristic of bestsellers is that they are successful only if people buy them, not if they read them after purchasing them or like what they read when they do. As a result, the text itself is often lost in the process. Rushdie himself commented on this, saying of his publicity, "It's a sort of dreadful paradox, because you need all that noise when you're publishing a book to bring people to it in the first place. Then the noise gets in the way" (Salon interview). And furthermore, the fact that a book becomes a bestseller -- and its being labeled as such -- is likely to make even more people buy and read it; the cycle is self-propagating. But most importantly, as The Satanic Verses demonstrates, it is a cycle of publicity that can propagate itself independently of the quality of the book itself. This is not to say that bestsellers are necessarily not good books, that the text itself doesn't matter to the book's place in the literary world. Rather, bestsellers such as The Satanic Verses prove merely that factors other than the quality of a text are capable of securing for a book a prominent place in the literary world. The literary world never really finished passing judgment on The Satanic Verses. Once it became a bestseller, the task of assessing its purely textual merit was, for the most part, abandoned. But because it was a bestseller, few noticed. This demonstrates that, unlike most other types of writing, bestsellers succeed (or fail) independently of textual quality. The Satanic Verses teaches us that, while bestsellers are not necessarily bad texts, they aren't necessarily good ones either. Sources: "The Salon Interview: Salman Rushdie." http://www.salon1999.com/06/features/interview.html Carter, Susan. "Why the Ayatollah is Whipping Up a New Wave of Fanaticism." Business Week. 3094:47. March 6, 1989. Gardels, Nathan. "The 'Word' Against Words." from "Salman Rushdie: A Collage of Comment." New Perspectives Quarterly. 6(1):48-55. Spring 1989. Hampshire, Carole. "Fiction is Fiction." Meanjin. 48: 161-6. Autumn 1989. Iyer, Pico. "Prosaic Justice All Around." Time. 133(10):84. March 6, 1989. Leonard, John. "Who Has the Best Tunes?" The Nation. 248(9):346-9. March 13, 1989. Rushdie, Salman. "Choice Between Light and Dark." The Observer. January 29, 1989, p11. [cited in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 55 (1989).] Rushdie, Salman. The Satanic Verses. Henry Holt and Company: New York, 1997. [primary source; cited as Satanic Verses instead of by the author] Wade, Alan. "Rushdie in Wonderland.' The New Leader. 72(4):19. February 20, 1989. Wood, Michael. "The Prophet Motive." The New Republic. 200(10):28. March 6, 1989.
Supplemental Material
The Charicature of Rushdie (Supplementary Image 5) is taken from the cover of a book published in response to the novel, during the height of the Rushdie Affair. It depicts the author as a devilish figure, reflecting Muslim views about the offensiveness of the book.
Cover Art of Dutch Translation
Cover Art of First Paperback Edition (Consortium, 1992)
Spine of Dust Jacket of First Edition
Penciled Note on First Leaf of First Edition and Book One first page from First Edition
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