View Poll Results: Midnight's Children : Final Verdict

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  • * Waste of time. Wouldn't recommend.

    0 0%
  • ** Didn't like it much.

    0 0%
  • *** Average.

    1 25.00%
  • **** It is a good book.

    2 50.00%
  • ***** Liked it very much. Would strongly recommend it.

    1 25.00%
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Thread: February '12 / Man Booker Reading: Midnight's Children

  1. #16
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mutatis-Mutandi View Post
    I too wondered about the nose, and also wondered if maybe I too misinterpreted something. It seems like a pretty glaring inconsisitency for Rushdie to make, and on top of that keep referring to. Maybe that will also become clear in the later pages of the story.
    I kept trying to figure out if had something to do with the idea that perhaps he was fated to become their child, or has something to do with the prophecy around his birth. I do recall there was some remark made during the time of the switching of the birth, along the lines of, even after the truth was discovered it did not matter because nothing would change that he was their child, or that they knew that he was still their child all along.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  2. #17
    Clinging to Douvres rocks Gilliatt Gurgle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mutatis-Mutandi View Post
    ...It seemed, up until that point, it really lacked cohesiveness, and even had me going to Sparknotes to make sure I actually understood the actions of what I just read.

    I like the surreal aspect of the book--although I haven't read a ton of it, I really do like the genre of "magical realism."
    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    ... I agree that it was a bit confusing at first and there were moments I found hard to follow and was uncertain as to what was happening....

    ...I love surrealism. I find anything that questions and challenges are perceptions of reality, or bends reality to be fascinating, and I love reading books of this nature, they always entrance me. I am usually always up for anything of the bizarre nature...
    I'm further behind than others posting here, but I wanted to add that I was experiencing similar struggles as you mention above. After about ninety pages in and what already seemed like ninety characters introduced, I was forced to print off a character list to help keep track…and that is just Book One characters.

    Btw – Wikipedia has a decent character list with concise descriptions, proving to be an invaluable aid so far making it easier to follow the course of the story including sudden tacks.

    Here’s the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...ren_characters

    “On August 6th the illness broke. On the morning of the 9th Mumtaz was well enough to take a little solid food.”- two dates which gave me pause. The allusion to those two significant dates in history was clever, followed by; “…can you imagine how the insides of his nose felt?” and “…because he had this bombshell to drop…”- referring to the two year marriage that had not been consummated.

    I’m nearing the 100 page point and I’m enjoying it so far.

    .
    "Mongo only pawn in game of life" - Mongo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKRma7PDW10

  3. #18
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    I am curious about the portrayal of women within the book. I began to notice a trend in portraying women who are physically strong, and I am curious about what the meaning might be since it seems to come up so frequently.

    There were the women wrestlers who acted as body guard to Naseem Ghani

    And than there is the Brass Monkey, and the incident in which she began to hang out with the female swimmers who than wrestled Sonny to the ground and stripped him of his clothing.

    Evie Lilith Burns who is quite the rough and tumble tomboy

    and there is a scene in which Saleem is describing Padma and he focuses upon the strength and power of her muscles, and how strong her legs are and the fact that her arms could wrestle is down.

    This also seems to contrast against the way in which the "maternal" women of the story or portrayed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutatis-Mutandi View Post
    I can't help but wonder if Rushdie got some inspiration from the X-Men.
    Ironcialy there is a point in the story where Mrs Dubash is said to have reinventied the story of Superman when her son Cyrus-the-Great become a guru.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  4. #19
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    Well, seeing as it was written in the very heart of the feminist movement, I can't help but assume Rushdie was heavily influenced by that. In a book that is already tinkering heavily with what things "should be" (odd narrative, odd main character, odd narration, odd grammar, etc.) his decision to toy with how women have usually been portrayed by making them strong, even in a literally absurd sense as we see with the woman wrestlers, doesn't surprise me.

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mutatis-Mutandi View Post
    Well, seeing as it was written in the very heart of the feminist movement, I can't help but assume Rushdie was heavily influenced by that. In a book that is already tinkering heavily with what things "should be" (odd narrative, odd main character, odd narration, odd grammar, etc.) his decision to toy with how women have usually been portrayed by making them strong, even in a literally absurd sense as we see with the woman wrestlers, doesn't surprise me.
    I wonder if the characters such as the women wrestlers, which are set up as a bit outrageous, or least to use your word, comes off as a bit odd, an in this sort of extreme way of showing the equality and perhaps in some cases superiority(?) to men, considering the examples of women actually physically overpowering men, are meant as a challenge to the seemingly more traditional women such as Naseem Ghani and Amina Sinai.

    There does seem to be two very distinct portrayals of women offered within the book. One being a more old world/traditionally view of women. The women who do take on the role of mothers and wives, while may be strong in their own way, have the kind of strength which is most stereotypically associated with women. They often tend to be long suffering, vulnerable, having the power of endurance, and living in unhappy marriages.

    Than there are the Padma's the women wrestlers, the Brass Monkey, and Evie (whose middle is ironically Lilith, who has become to be a very a fort of feminist archetype) who are much more modernized, more liberated to and challenge typical gender roles and views of women to a point touching upon. In fact I wonder if in a way they have become caricatures of feminism?

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  6. #21
    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mutatis-Mutandi View Post
    How so?
    It's hard to put into words. I get the feeling that Rushdie is playing with us as readers but not in a nice way, more a 'look how much cleverer I am than you' kind of way. It's not really quantifiable, but after 400 pages I still feel excluded. I suppose its like the difference between someone saying 'look what I can do, watch me, watch me, watch me' and someone saying 'let me share this with you'. I'm not sure if that makes a lot of sense, but the feeling persists all the same.
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  7. #22
    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    Don't you just love quoting yourself?
    Quote Originally Posted by TheFifthElement View Post
    It's hard to put into words. I get the feeling that Rushdie is playing with us as readers but not in a nice way, more a 'look how much cleverer I am than you' kind of way. It's not really quantifiable, but after 400 pages I still feel excluded. I suppose its like the difference between someone saying 'look what I can do, watch me, watch me, watch me' and someone saying 'let me share this with you'. I'm not sure if that makes a lot of sense, but the feeling persists all the same.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scheherazade View Post
    Since some of you might be reading the book still, I will not go into detail not to spoil the story but when I finished reading it, I was surprised that I was not as impressed as I had thought I would have been.

    It was a good story, kept me reading... Funny at places, intriguing at others; however, for some reason, I did not feel that Rushdi did it all for the right reasons (yes, a lot of judgement on my behalf, but since I paid for the book and read it patiently, I am entitled to that much judgement, right? ).
    That is somewhat how I felt it as well, Fifth... That Rushi was not sincere in his efforts - whatever that might mean.
    ~
    "It is not that I am mad; it is only that my head is different from yours.”
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  8. #23
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    I disagree about his attitude. I think that's difficult to establish from this. What I am getting from it is a great sense of narrative exploration, which doesn't always work, but when it does presents a wide ranging but vivid description of events and characters. I feel I'm made to work hard at the text to keep track of what's happening, but in this Rushdie is not leading us by the usual narrative nose, (ha ha), and as a consequence is not patronising in his presentation. He expects that we will get the references and story and appreciate the rich style. This is for the modern reader; someone who is able to followthis complexity. A 19th century novel woukld not be written this way as a 10th century reader would not be able to make head nor tail of it. I think it capitalises upon our modern, ongoing narrative experience.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFifthElement View Post
    It's hard to put into words. I get the feeling that Rushdie is playing with us as readers but not in a nice way, more a 'look how much cleverer I am than you' kind of way. It's not really quantifiable, but after 400 pages I still feel excluded. I suppose its like the difference between someone saying 'look what I can do, watch me, watch me, watch me' and someone saying 'let me share this with you'. I'm not sure if that makes a lot of sense, but the feeling persists all the same.
    I get what you're saying. I think doing the whole "messing with the reader" thing is a risky game. And I think there's always a certain pompousness by the author when using this technique, because I think it does take arrogance to write this way--the author sort of has to think he's cleverer in the first place I'd he wants to pull it off. For the reader, I think it can work well, and when it does it's a great read. But when it doesn't, the author's arrogance really shines.

    I guess it's a matter of figuring out why it doesn't work for you, though. So, do you not like the story, the style of writing, the absurdism, or are you just not a fan of this kind of story-telling in general? I can understand any of those, really.

  10. #25
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    Just finished. I'd give it a 9/10 (I rounded up). I really enjoyed this book.

    I also read that MC was named the best of the Booker award winners--the Booker of the Booker winners, if you will.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem View Post
    I disagree about his attitude. I think that's difficult to establish from this. What I am getting from it is a great sense of narrative exploration, which doesn't always work, but when it does presents a wide ranging but vivid description of events and characters. I feel I'm made to work hard at the text to keep track of what's happening, but in this Rushdie is not leading us by the usual narrative nose, (ha ha), and as a consequence is not patronising in his presentation. He expects that we will get the references and story and appreciate the rich style. This is for the modern reader; someone who is able to followthis complexity. A 19th century novel woukld not be written this way as a 10th century reader would not be able to make head nor tail of it. I think it capitalises upon our modern, ongoing narrative experience.
    Completely agree. It's not an easy read (though, after the first hundred pages, I found it much easier than many other books I've read), and in later chapters my biggest difficulty was keeping track of the different characters. Plus, reading this on my iPad came really in handy since I could quicky go to Wikipedia to look up any of the references to Indian culture/politics that were made.
    Last edited by Mutatis-Mutandis; 02-23-2012 at 10:16 AM.

  11. #26
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    In regards to earlier comments made about the way in which the author changes the narrative approach between 1st person and 3rd person in how Saleem speaks of himself, I do not know if it is just because I am more aware of it now but it seems to me that towards the later part of the book Saleem begins to more frequently refer to himself in the 3rd person.

    I found this to be quite interesting and I wonder if it is because as the story is progressing nearer to the present, Saleem feels the need to distance himself more from the events because the memories are fresher so it becomes more emotionally harder to deal with. Or if it is because of his greater feeling of shame/guilt in his own actions and feelings that makes him want to remove himself more from this past version of himself.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  12. #27
    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    Just one clarification: I'm not saying that Rushdie is arrogant, but that he comes over as arrogant. It's hard for me to really pin on whether it's him as the writer or the character. I guess I'd have to read something else by him to establish that, but at the moment I'm not inclined.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem View Post
    I disagree about his attitude. I think that's difficult to establish from this. What I am getting from it is a great sense of narrative exploration, which doesn't always work, but when it does presents a wide ranging but vivid description of events and characters. I feel I'm made to work hard at the text to keep track of what's happening, but in this Rushdie is not leading us by the usual narrative nose, (ha ha), and as a consequence is not patronising in his presentation. He expects that we will get the references and story and appreciate the rich style. This is for the modern reader; someone who is able to followthis complexity. A 19th century novel woukld not be written this way as a 10th century reader would not be able to make head nor tail of it. I think it capitalises upon our modern, ongoing narrative experience.
    I don't really agree with that assessment, I think that's really difficult to judge. For a start, I don't think we're really in a position to assess the abilities of a 19th C reader over a contemporary reader. You'd have to assess readers from where (are we just talking W European here?) as, for example, the Chinese and Japanese were writing complex novels back as far as the 11th Century (think The Tale of Genji). Also, what about writers like Tolstoy, Guy de Maupassant, Emile Zola, Thomas Hardy, Dostoyevsky, George Eliot, Hawthorne, Melville, Dickens, Balzac the list goes on. Are you really saying that those writers are not the match in complexity of Rushdie or that their readers didn't grasp or follow the narrative?

    On the other hand, there are other contemporary writers who have written novels of great complexity without this sense of 'showing off' that I've got from reading Rushdie. I'm thinking of, say, David Mitchell (but when am I not thinking of David Mitchell ) or Umberto Eco, each of who write novels with amazing scope, with incredible skill, intelligence and complexity. But not in a way that excludes the reader which is the sense I'm getting here. But then I also acknowledge that this may well be a narrative technique by Rushdie because I've been thinking about this point which Mutatis mentioned and which Muse has followed up on:

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutatis-Mutandi View Post
    One thing confuses me, and maybe some of you would like to flex your cloe-reading muscles, but I've noticed the narrator on occasion switch from referring to his pasr self as "I" to using third person references like "he," "him," and even using his name, "Saleem." I'm wondering why he does that. It conveys a distance between the narrator's present self and his last self, as if he doesn't want to acknowledge that it was actually him. He only does it every once in a while, though. I'm think maybe he does it only during negative aspects of the story, such as things he'd be ashamed if, but I haven't payed enough attention to them times he uses this technique to confirm it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    I found this to be quite interesting and I wonder if it is because as the story is progressing nearer to the present, Saleem feels the need to distance himself more from the events because the memories are fresher so it becomes more emotionally harder to deal with. Or if it is because of his greater feeling of shame/guilt in his own actions and feelings that makes him want to remove himself more from this past version of himself.
    My sense on this is that the character, Saleem, is mythologising his own history. And so he talks in the third person because he is presenting himself as a character in his own narrative - Saleem the principal Midnight's child, Saleem of the magical nose, Saleem the buddha, etc etc. And so when he is talking in the third person it is Saleem as the character, not Saleem as the narrator, you're dealing with. Maybe. Just a thought.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    I am curious about the portrayal of women within the book. I began to notice a trend in portraying women who are physically strong, and I am curious about what the meaning might be since it seems to come up so frequently.
    There might be a cultural angle here. There are many cultures that value attributes in women which are not rooted in stick thinness and their ability to perform complex gymnastics on a pole. Maybe it's a reflection on that?
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  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFifthElement View Post
    My sense on this is that the character, Saleem, is mythologising his own history. And so he talks in the third person because he is presenting himself as a character in his own narrative - Saleem the principal Midnight's child, Saleem of the magical nose, Saleem the buddha, etc etc. And so when he is talking in the third person it is Saleem as the character, not Saleem as the narrator, you're dealing with. Maybe. Just a thought.
    I like this idea. It makes a lot of sense to me. It'd be interesting to see when he refers to himself in the third person and if it corresponds with the more mythological and fantastical parts of the story.

  14. #29
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFifthElement View Post
    I don't really agree with that assessment, I think that's really difficult to judge. For a start, I don't think we're really in a position to assess the abilities of a 19th C reader over a contemporary reader. You'd have to assess readers from where (are we just talking W European here?) as, for example, the Chinese and Japanese were writing complex novels back as far as the 11th Century (think The Tale of Genji). Also, what about writers like Tolstoy, Guy de Maupassant, Emile Zola, Thomas Hardy, Dostoyevsky, George Eliot, Hawthorne, Melville, Dickens, Balzac the list goes on. Are you really saying that those writers are not the match in complexity of Rushdie or that their readers didn't grasp or follow the narrative?
    No, I wouldn't say that those great writers don't match up to Rushdie, but their 19th century readers might not follow the narrative style Rushdie uses. I think today we benefit from the narrative exploration of lots of writers, and I think Rushdie capitalises on this. His paragraphs are packed with references back and forth in the novel, and there's a continent spanning cultural awareness going on - India, The US, the UK and colonialism. I was looking at The Count of Monte Christo not long after starting this novel, and what struck me was this different and developed narrative style that really makes the reader work. My favourite so far is the chapter "Many Headed Monsters" which weaves the Diwali myth into the cash payment that Ahmed makes, and Amina's visit to the seer. It's complex, and requires a certain knowledge of Hindu mythology to appreciate it fully.

  15. #30
    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    So, I finished this yesterday. I'm still not sure on this one. All the way through reading it I felt as though I was being 'shown' something, that the story was engaging but exclusive and consequently I was always on the outside of it. It may be, I suspect it is the case, that this was deliberate, that this was a storyteller's story rather than the reader's story. There's nothing wrong in that, but I don't particularly like it. I guess I just don't like being 'told' anything

    A couple of points I would be interested in discussing:


    ***may be spoilers***



    1. Parallels to 1001 nights - I didn't really pick up on this until the end, and I've only partially read the 1001 nights so I doubt I'd pick up on all the allusions anyway. It also feeds into the sense of a story being told, and the mythologising of Saleem's history. In fact the fact that Saleem tells the story to Padma only at night when the factory is closed feeds into this also. Thoughts?

    2. Emasculation as a theme - contrasting the physically (and in some cases politically) powerful, successful and single minded women against the men of the story - Aadam Aziz, the man riddled with holes and who, despite all attempts, failed to conquer the Reverend Mother; Nadir Khan who failed to consummate his marriage; Ahmed Sinai who became impotent after the 'freeze'; Zafar the bedwetter; Saleem himself who was 'drained above and below'. And so on. Thoughts (again )?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem View Post
    No, I wouldn't say that those great writers don't match up to Rushdie, but their 19th century readers might not follow the narrative style Rushdie uses.
    Tristram Shandy?
    Last edited by TheFifthElement; 02-29-2012 at 03:35 PM.
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