Feedback About Us Archives Interviews Book Reviews Short Stories Poems Articles Home

ISSN: 0974-892X


January, 2011



Anita Singh and Rahul Chaturvedi

Facts, Fictions and Fabrications: Historical Representation in Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children

Salman Rushdie in Midnight’s Children(1981) engages himself in the debate of historical representation by foregrounding the underlying narrativity of historical knowledge through Saleem Sinai, the first person autobiographical narrator of the novel who construes his version of India, who questions and challenges, if not denies, the historiographic claims of authentic representation of past. By blurring the boundaries between fiction and history, Saleem is doing a chutnification of history, a historiographic process which works on his memories, dreams, and fantasies, to structure a narrative around the recent history of the subcontinent, especially India. Saleem, is ‘handcuffed to history’ by his very incidental birth at the stroke of midnight hour, August 15th, 1947. The coincidence of the two births, his and the birth of the nation, makes him obsessed with idea of mirroring his own life in relation to that of the nation. Their lives are so intertwined that personal and political inseparably convulse and becomes indistinguishable with tensions unresolved. In fact, Saleem is not only writing his autobiography but the biography of India. For him the personal becomes political and the vice versa. His accidental birth leaves no choice for him but to identify his consciousness and history with that of India. Working on the patterns of allegory, metafiction, parody and magic realism to achieve a subversive historicizing, Saleem / Salman examines the relationship between the self and the nation problematising certain known historical ‘events’ from the moment of Independence in 1947 till the period of Emergency in 1977. Rushdie himself has acknowledged that “the period between 1947 and 1977 the period from independence to emergency had a kind of shape to it. It represented a sort of close period in the history of the country. That shape became part of the architecture of the work” ( in interview by C. Pattanayak 1983). But Rushdie, in the novel, goes beyond the notion of history as a shaping force in his recuperation of past undermining the conventional notion of history to foreground the ‘storicity’ of historical knowledge. He enacts a postmodern interaction of historiography and metafiction raising several issues of subjectivity, intertextuality, reference, ideology in historiography and its mutual overlappings with the rhetoric of history to build a playful text in ‘historiographic metafiction’ that “shows fiction to be historically conditioned and history to be discursively structured(See Hutcheon: A Poetics of Postmodernism:1988:120)”

Hermeneutics of Suspicion: the Role of Genealogy in Historical Sense of Midnight’s Children

The historical sense in the novel invokes the idea of Foucault’s ‘genealogical’  history. Genealogy is the study of ‘family history’ which often posses the desire to historically ‘situate’ one's family in the larger historical picture. In the poststructuralist discourse of Foucault and other postmodern theorists, it has assumed a special significance owing to the fact that it eschews history of its claims of totality and faithful uncovering of the past    producing anti-epistemological and anti-teleological critiques of traditional history in the face of its rejection of ‘unbroken continuity’ and ‘metaphysics of origins’ that traditional accounts of history pretend to offer.  Foucault states that genealogy:
…does not pretend to go back in time to restore an unbroken continuity that operates beyond  the dispersion of forgotten things; its duty is not to demonstrate that the past actively exists in the present, this it continues secretly to animate the present, having imposed a predetermined form to all its vicissitudes. Genealogy does not resemble the evolution of a species and does not map the destiny of a people. On the contrary, to follow the complex course of descent is to maintain passing events in their proper dispersion: it is to identify the accidents, the minute deviation s-or the conversely, the complete reversals-the errors, the false appraisals, and the faculty calculations that gave birth to those things that continue to exist and have value for us; it is to discover that truth or being do not lie at the root of what we know and what we are, but the exteriority of accidents (Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Foucault: 1977).

In fact, what Foucault implies by genealogy- a new method of doing history-is a sort of counter -narrative that gains its significance from is, offers of political resistance and self-conscious aesthetic criticism. Genealogy’s emphasis on dispersions, accidents, reversal errors, and false appraisals point out to the fact that all the claims of representing truths or realities are questionable and our accessibility to the past is no more than textual investigation, or discursively constructed. He further suggests that Genealogy is neither epistemological nor teleological- it is neither about the search for origins nor for the ends and the movements of history never follow a linear development. In fact, the argument that I have proposed earlier that the historical sense permeating in Midnight’s Children is genealogical seems to be well justified if we delve deeper into the account Saleem offers to his readers. First, in the traditional sense of genealogy, Saleem is writing his family history, and in the process the history of the nation, with the desire to carve out an important space for himself and his family in the larger historical framework of Indian history. Nothing in his account of family lineage is historical- in fact, the whole course of history is being shaped by him and the lives of his family members. Saleem and his family life are an allegory to the history of the nation.-every event that takes place in his family history impacts the course or fate of the nation. Being ‘handcuffed to history’ Rushdie’s narrator becomes centre to all national events, the cause and effect of all historical happenings. Throughout the novel, there are several episodes that reveal Saleem’s obsession to prioritize his family story to that of history. For instance, three drops of blood falls out of his grandfather, Adam Aziz’s nose on the prayer mat on the day World War First begins. Again, in Jallianwala Bagh massacre Dyer’s command  coincides with ‘the sneeze hits my grandfather full in the place. ‘Yaaaak-thoooo(41)’ and the Mercurochrome on his shirt evokes the metaphor of human bloodshed. Further, Saleem enforcing his private story on public history writes; “One last fact: after the death of my grandfather, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru fell ill and never recovered his health. This fatal sickness finally killed him on May 27th , 1964.”  More importantly, his very birth at the stroke of midnight hour, August 15th, 1947 infuses in him a kind narcissism. The coincidence of the two births, his and the birth of the nation, makes him obsessed with idea of mirroring his own life in relation to that of the nation- he interprets his accidental birth historical moment always identifying his consciousness and history with that of India:

‘And, outside the window, fireworks and the crowd…I had been mysteriously handcuffed to history, my destinies indissolubly chained to those of my country. For the next three decades, there was to be no escape. Soothsayers had prophesied me, newspapers celebrated my arrival, and politicos ratified my authenticity. I was left entirely without a say in the matter (3)’

What I intend to suggest here through aforementioned instances that history Saleem is writing is genealogical in method as it foregrounds the narrators incessant attempt to highlight and chronicle his and his family’s significance amidst the humdrum of the great events of events. Saleem’s subjectivised historicisation is not defiance or contamination of history but an assertion of “the unity of man’s being through which it was thought that he could extend his sovereignty to the events of the past” (Foucault: 1977, 153). His bold narcissistic assertion of self in narrative voice is of course an explicit attempt, at least to make some meaning, if not ‘extension of sovereignty’. At the very outset, Saleem points out to the necessity of subjectivised history ‘to end up meaning- yes, meaning- something. I admit it: above all things, I fear absurdity (4)” and, in his narcissistic narrative style, consistently reminds the reader of the necessity of re-imagining history in a manner that provides meaning to him and his family genealogy. Instead of writing a completely factual account of his family, he, by borrowing techniques from fiction, turns dry facts of family life and history into a compelling family history narrative that is, in fact the extension of familial into national.
Saleem is engaged in doing a ‘genealogy’ and his methods of investigation are also similar to genealogists who use ‘oral traditions’, ‘historical records’, ‘genetic analysis’. The genetic association between Adam Aziz’s grand proboscissimus ‘nose’- and Saleem’s telepathic sinuses passed down only with minor mutation through matrilineal line in fact illustrates the case of genealogical research Saleem is doing. Beside there also several other instances which reveal hereditary patterns are the integral part of narrative description.

And again, similar to the methods of genealogical research that relies on oral traditions to collect family documents and stories involving historical records for authenticity, Saleem also uses oral narratives involving the family in his story in a central way. The self-aware narrative process that Saleem has adopted addresses the readers creating new rules while undermining conventional forms reflects the process of oral story telling. The role of Padma as a narratee becomes significant in the novel as she upholds the expectations of oral story-telling by ordinary, plebian masses in India. She, Rushdie acknowledges that “Padma enabled the book to become an oral narrative, some kind of stylization of such a narrative, if you like” (Durix, 14). By creating a character who acts as a catalyzer for the telling, encouraging the continuation of the tale and interacting with the teller of that tale, Rushdie allows Saleem’s narration to embody qualities of the oral narrative. As with such a narrative style, Saleem often interrupts his own story, addresses the reader, and speaks in circles before returning to his main point. As Saleem tells the story, he constantly digresses when some element of his tale reminds him of something else. At one point he rails against these digressions: “Interruptions, nothing but interruptions! The different parts of my somewhat complicated life refuse, with a wholly unreasonable obstinacy, to stay neatly in their separate compartments” (259). Through this narcissistic comment on narrative, Saleem draws attention to the oral nature of the narrative which continually refuses to be contained within   the limits of memory.   

History as Fiction, Fiction as History 

Apart from being a genealogist, Saleem is historiographic metafictionist. His narcissist narration that claims to be ‘historical’ evoke a number of issues- positionality, provisonality, intertextuality, ideology and narrativity- that come very close to ‘historiographic metafiction’- a coinage from Linda Hutcheon to describe the postmodern interaction/liaison of historiography and fiction. Let me briefly state what historiographic metafiction refers to before I proceed to demonstrate that Midnight’s Children manifests the confluences and convergences of historical and fictive. Hutcheon has used the term in relation to the novels like Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Grass’s The Tin Drum, Fowles’s A Maggot, Doctorow’s Loon Lake,  Rushdie’s Shame and so on to show the paradoxes and contradictions of the self-reflexive and historical in these novels. Novels like these problematize the accessibility nature and narrativisation of historical knowledge foregrounding the fact that ‘fiction and history are narratives distinguished by their frames(See Hutcheon: 109). These novels draw upon/bracket the shared conventions of two genres announcing that “history itself depends on conventions of narrative, language, and ideology in order to present an account of ‘what really happened’ (Mazurek 1982,29 Hutcheon, 112). Intensely self-conscious about the way in which history and fiction narrates itself, these, simultaneously historical and metafictional novels “foregrounds the rejection of the claims of both “authentic” representation and “inauthentic” copy (Hutcheon:110)” of past raising the epistemological question of how we know the past conjoined with “the ontological one of the status of the traces of the past ((Hutcheon:122).” Laying claims to historical events and personages, these fictions incorporate history as intertext exhibiting a desire both to ‘to rewrite the past in a new context’ and to close the gap between the past and the present of the reader ((Hutcheon:118). The points of divergences between earlier historical novels and recent historiographic metafiction are explicit. Whereas the old historical novels of Scott and others tended to fulfill the principles of realism striving for objectivity, details and factual documentations assuming that facts are better than fiction, these new historiographic metafictions renounce the ideals of objectivity and faithful documentation of historical details gaming with the plurals of truth and reality. With deliberate falsification of known historical events and distortion of reality, these novels reveal the ideological implications of writing history instead of the claims of neutral reporting of then existent past. Further, these novels differ from old historical novels in their selection of protagonists and the perspectives of narration. Unlike old historical novels which supposed that the protagonists should be a type, a synthesis of the general and particular, of “all the humanly and socially essential detriminants.( (Hutcheon:113)”, the protagonists of these fictions are never types, always individuals and have their own versions of histories, or to be more specific, stories that undermines the received notions of history. Thus we see historiographic metafiction reflects the postmodernist mood of problematising history, both thematically and formally indicating the problematic confrontation of history with metafictions. To understand the concept more clearly, I am going to chart out the major assertions and characteristics of historiographic metafiction that will be used to discuss Midnight’s Children in the section that will follow:

Now that we know what Historiographic metafiction implies, let us shift our attention back to the novel. How, then, do we understand the historiographic metafictive narrative of the novel?  For this, I propose to analyze the novel in respect to three major aspects which historiographic metafiction evokes.

First, I intend to address the linking of fictitious to historical, story to history in the novel. The narrator’s momentous and coincidental birth at the moment ‘that comes but comes rarely in history’ i.e. precisely at the midnight of India’s Independence empowers him with magical gifts of telepathy and olfactory-Saleem can sneak into others lives; he can read the mind of others; and later he possesses a very strong sense of smell- but also leaves him ‘handcuffed to history’.  His birth which coincides with the birth of the nation leads him to believe that he is, as he proclaims Nehru wrote to him, ‘a mirror of India’. Fathered by history, Saleem rewrites the history of twentieth century India once he starts writing his autobiography. Rushdie enables Saleem to re-arrange the entire history which is exploited to revolve around personal life of Saleem Sinnai and his family history. All the important historical events like The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, indo- China, Indo-Pak Bangladesh War, and The Emergency are mixed with magical elements like Aziz's itching nose saving him from the bullets of English soldiers on the Jallianwala Bagh ground or Saleem grows into cracks when the nation is split into new states or declaration of Emergency by Indira Gandhi is compared to the labour pangs of Parvati, the witch and so on. In fact, the connection between history and individual, Saleem and India is so strong that nothing can escape historicity in his narrative. Beginning from the First World War, Quit India Movement, Partition, General Elections, two Indo-Pak Wars to the emergency and post-emergency period till the coming of Janta Party in power, all the major historical events affect/are affected by Saleem and his family’s life. For instance, Indo-Pak war of 1965 leaves Saleem “orphaned and purified”;  his son Adam, also handcuffed to history due to the time of his birth at the ‘precise instant of the birth of the new India (586)’ during emergency suffers from tuberculosis, a disease ‘darkly metaphorical (590)’ and does not convulse till the emergency ends. These liaisons betwixt historical and personal illustrate the metaphoric and allegorical consciousness of Saleem that haphazardly establishes odd links between the life of an individual and the fate of a nation and this convergence of the national and the domestic is maintained throughout the novel. Saleem indulges himself in a whimsical and ‘playful’ mirroring of the course of the history of India:

“Your life , which will be, in a sense, the mirror of our own,” the Prime Minister wrote, obliging me scientifically to face the question? How, in what terms, may the career of  of a single individual be said to impinge on the fate of the nation? I must answer in adverbs and hyphens : I was linked to history both literally and metaphorically, both actively and passively….This is why hyphens are necessary: actively-literally, passively-metaphorically, actively-metaphorically and passively-literally, I was inextricably entwined with my world.

…By the combination of “active” and “literal” I mean, of course, all actions of mine which directly-literally-affected, or altered the course of seminal historical events, for instance the manner in which I provided the language marchers with their battle cry. The union of “passive” and “metaphorical” encompasses all socio-political trends and events which, merely by existing, affected me metaphorically- for example b y reading between the lines of the episode entitled “The Fisherman’s Pointing Finger,” you will perceive the unavoidable connection between the infant state’s attempt at rushing towards full-sized adulthood and my own early, explosive efforts at growth…Next, “passive” and “literal,” when hyphenated, cover all moments at which national events had a direct bearing upon the lives of myself and my family-under this heading you should file the freezing of my father’s assets, and also the explosion of Walkeshwar Reservoir, which unleashed the great cat invasion. And finally there is the mode of the “active-metaphorical,” which groups together those occasions on which things done by me or to me mirrored in the macrocosm of public affairs, and my private existence was show to be symbolically at one with history. The mutilation of my middle finger was a case in point, because when I was detached from my fingertip and blood (neither Alpha nor Omega) rushed out in fountains, a similar thing happened to history. (330-31)
These seemingly coherent parallelisms and convergences run throughout the novel making a medley of history-a synchronization of fact and fiction, historical and personal- resulting from the narrator-victim protagonist’s superhuman ability of thought reading and magical sneaking into history.

Second, Salman/Saleem undermines/challenges the conventional ideas of history and posits a multiplicity of histories that are comprised of a chutnified mixture of memory and recorded fact. Saleem’s metaphor for his entire narrative is 'pickles of history’. The reference to pickles constantly refers to pickling or chutnification of history in Rushdie’s terminology by which history can be preserved since to pickle is to immortalize. The act of pickling is self reflexive and self conscious act of history writing acknowledging the fact there can be no complete or perfect version of history and no narrative can encapsulate the whole of reality. Regarding self reflexive chutnification of history Linda Hutcheon comments: “Rushdie's paradoxically anti-totalizing totalized image for his historiographic metafictive process is the "chutnification of history." Each chapter of the novel, we are told, is like a pickle jar that shapes its contents by its very form. The cliché with which Saleem is clearly playing is that to understand him and his nation, we "have to swallow a world" and swallow too his literally preposterous story. But chutnification is also an image of preserving: "my chutneys and kasaundies are, after all, connected to my nocturnal scribblings. Memory, as well as fruit, is being saved from the corruption of the clocks." In both processes, however, he acknowledges inevitable distortions: raw materials are transformed, given "shape and form—that is to say, meaning." This is as true of history-writing as it is of novel-writing.” (Hutcheon, 65). Chutnification of history endows Saleem with alternative new reality/realities- a reality created by his memory, in which he holds on to only those events which are meaningful to him. Saleem re-imagines/re-arranges historical events that fill in the gaps of historical memory, though his manner/mode may or may not concur with recorded fact. Saleem knows that “Most of what matters in your life takes place in your absence” (282) therefore the task of writing the past can not be completed without the help of memory-it might be personal or collective. Though the workings of Saleem’s memory are not unquestionable as he himself confesses that his memories were playing tricks with his mind, yet he resorts to his memory because it bestows him with greater limits of freedom to fulfill his project i.e. to cut history to suit him. Many of his recollections are at variance with literal facts yet Saleem prefers to cling to his false memories to mere literal happened events thinking remembered version to be as valid for him as those recorded facts. The fallibility of memory can not disappoint him because he knows that “Reality is a question of perspective; the further you get from the past, the more concrete and plausible it seems-but as you approach the present, it inevitably seems more and more incredible.(229)Furthermore, the process of Chutnification of history via invocation of memory may not be flawless because chronology of historical events here depends on the exigencies of the memory, this narrative account can be erroneous. But it makes a postmodern historiographic claim that the process by which ‘events’ become ‘facts’ is a matter of re-membering, therefore the memory becomes very much important. With regard to memory’s truth, Saleem points out: “It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimizes, glorifies, and vilifies also; but in the end it creates its own reality … heterogeneous but usually coherent version of the events” (292). For example Saleem reports the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi at the wrong date: “the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi occurs, in these pages, on the wrong date. But I can not say, now, what the actual sequence of events might have been; in my India, Gandhi will continue to die at the wrong time” (229-30).Regarding this he rhetorically asks: “Does one error invalidate the entire fabric” (230). Such errors are common to an individual and memory can have multiple ways of seeing- a viable historical alternative to recorded fact- to decide which event will become facts. In fact when Rushdie/Saleem is writing a historical fiction through the workings of memory, they uphold/correct/modify the definition and obligations of historical novel shared by Bankim Chandra Chattopdhyay who believed  that the  purpose of history can be accomplished in a novel and the novelist is not always bound by the chains of truth and this is also not essential that everything in the historical novel should be historical.

Saleem almost agrees with the definition that “the purpose of history can be accomplished in a novel” and the novelist/narrator can resort to the use of his imagination to achieve the effects he desires but he constantly refuses to see his historical reconstructions as fictionalizations. Perhaps this is not accidental that he deliberately uses documentary narrative and “overtly personal and provisional journalism, autobiographical in impulse and performative in impact” (Linda Hutcheon: 115) to make his “effective history” more historical. Throughout the novel, the readers can come across the passages of straightforward journalistic accounts. For instance, see the journalistic vain that runs through the passage that follows:
It is a matter of record that the States Reorganization committee had submitted its report to Mr. Nehru as long ago as October 1955; a year later, its recommendations have been implemented. India had been divided anew, into fourteen states and six centrally-administered ‘territories.’ But the boundaries of these states were not formed by rivers, or mountains, or any natural features of the terrain; they were, instead walls of words” (261)

Besides such many other journalistic documents, Saleem documents several other historical facts to dispel the narrative ambiguity or dubiousness. Intermittently, Saleem returns to shared history of the reader and constantly refers to historical events and personages. Nehru, Jinnah, Mountbatten, Ayub Khan, Indira Gandhi and other political leaders are directly involved in the narrative. Nehru’s speech on Independence is quoted; Jinnah infuriates at the prophecies of the astrologers secure in the knowledge that his Pakistan will be born… a full day before India. Almost a paragraph is dedicated to Indira Gandhi, the widow in the novel:

Mrs. Indira Gandhi was born in the November 1917 to Kamala and Jawaharlal Nehru. Her middle name was Priydarshini. She was not related to Mahatma M. K. Gandhi; her surname was the legacy of her marriage, in 1952, to one Feroze Gandhi, who became known as the nation’s son-in-law” (588).

Such instances would certainly relate the novel to the category of fiction called the Non-Fiction Novel but I would prefer to see the novel an exemplary case of historiographic metafictional fictive mode as the novel contains historiographic metafiction’s more paradoxical questioning of those recorded documents and its non-confirmation to the “authority of fact” (Hutcheon, 116), often casting doubts upon their seriousness that acknowledges the limits and powers of “reporting” or writing of the past, recent or remote.(Hutcheon, 117)

Third, like many other historiographic metafictions Midnight’s Children too privileges an overtly narcissist self-conscious narrative mode that undermines the notion of absolute historical truth and reality challenging, not denying, its faithful re-presentation in any text, be it history or fiction. Saleem who is historically ex-centric, marginalized and a peripheral figure knows that he is conditioned in his response to both public and private history and no matter how much he tries to see himself representing India his historicity will remain questionable. Saleem tries to reduce history to his autobiography no matter he succeeds or fails. Saleem is self-conscious of his obsession with history that underlines ideological implications. In fact, he is attempting to dis-cover his own history to protect himself from being the passive victim of the forces of history. Saleem constructs devices for counterfactual conjecture and self-reflexivity in order to question the nature of historical knowledge from hermeneutic and ideological point of view. He calls the readers’ attention to highly self-interested motive to set out on a quest to write the past. The egocentricity of Saleem’s historiographic efforts emerges at several places in the novel when Saleem is trying to fit historical events to his personal purposes-to delay his bodily disintegration. His self-reflexive rendering of history into story shows the readers that how histories are made up involving the process of selection and representation of events in a manner that can not remain unmediated, unaltered and undistorted.  It evokes the issue of narrativity of historical representation that foregrounds that “we can know reality as it is produced and sustained by cultural representations of it” (Hutcheon:121). Saleem is self-conscious of his story-telling and, at the very outset, he informs the readers that “there are so many stories to tell, too many, such an excess of intertwined lives events miracles places rumours, so dense a commingling of the improbable and the mundane! I have been a swallower of lives; and to know me, just the one of me, you’ll have to swallow the lot as well.(4)”. Moreover, like many other historiographic metafictive narrators he lets the readers know the alterations in the past, its discursivity, and “modes of mediating the world for the purpose of introducing meaning”(Hutcheon: 112). To highlight this point, he deliberately introduces errors in historical narration, apprising the readers his mistakes of re-writing history to “foreground the possible mnemonic failures of recorded history and the constant potential for both deliberate and inadvertent error.” (Hutcheon: 114). Saleem’s narrative raise similar questions like why he intends to construct a willful betrayal of his parentage-the reader comes to know only in the middle of the novel that Saleem is the bastard child of a departing Englishman, Metwold, born to a Hindu couple, Wee Willi Wnkie and Vanita and was swapped with Shiva, the true blood heir of Ahmad and Amina Sinnai-or why does he knowingly do the changes in the chronology of the events. In fact these “mnemonic failures” on his part denote the strategies of paradoxical questioning that strives more on ontological uncertainty of  how do we the past along with the epistemological status of what we know of past. Saleem’s self-reflexivity can be discerned throughout the text which often invites Padma or readers to question even received versions of history. He opines:

The process of revision should be constant and endless; don’t think I’m satisfied with what I’ve done! Among my unhappiness; an overly-harsh taste from those jars containing memories of my father; a certain ambiguity in the love-flavour of ‘Jamila Singer’ (Special Formula No. 22 ), which might lead the unperceptive to conclude that I’ve invented the whole story of the baby swap to justify an incestuous love…-the pickles raises questions which are not fully answered, such as: Why did Saleem need an accident to acquire his powers? Most of other children didn’t….would Mary’s confession have come as a shock to a true telepath? Sometimes, in the pickles’ version of history, Saleem appears to have known too little; at other times, too much…yes, I should revise, improve and improve; but there is neither the time nor the energy. I am obliged to offer no more than this stubborn sentence: It happened that way because that’s how it happened. (643-44)

In fact, it is not accidental that Saleem is de-authorizing his own version rather like a true self-conscious narrator is acknowledging the limits of reporting the past. His self-reflexivity here does not weaken his representation, but on the contrary, sharpens it owing to its ideological confrontation with the stubborn historians’ claims of  authentic representation of past- “It happened that way because that’s how it happened”.

This narrative self-reflexivity also calls our attention to the poetic processes of historiography- the metaphors of history are not distinguishable from the metaphors of fiction. The ways in which Saleem constructs his version of Indian past challenges the historicist approach of writing history, questioning and undermining the power of history to determine the fates of the individuals. It upholds the metafictional belief that historical events don’t mean things in themselves but rather their meanings are dependent on the ways they are described and linked together to form a historical narrative thus emplotment is essential to any historical narrative: “every representation of the past”, writes Hayden White, “ has specific ideological implications”(1978, 69). Emplotment in itself is an eclectic and ontological activity therefore history is also very much subject to ideological formations and subjective experiences of the one who is writing and what one intends to process as facts. Saleem’s erroneous and disorderly historicizing, despite his continuous claims of totality, explicitly exemplify the point that the story he is narrating is his story; the events mean the way he intend them to mean,; and it contains several fissures as Saleem has deliberately opted and denied representation to certain events.

To conclude, Midnight’s Children foregrounds the idea that historical representations are not objective recuperations of past in the present rather do reveal mediated, metaphorical, subjective and ideological nature of historical representation. Genealogical and historiographic metafictive narrative strategies of the novel indicate the problematic historical fabrication of facts and fictions in history. The novel marks an experimental moment of the postmodern novel which refuses the claims of writing a convincing past without acknowledging the hermeneutical process of historiography. 



Works Cited

Durix, Jean-Pierre. “Magic Realism in Midnight’s Children”.  Commonwealth Essays and Studies: 8 (1), 1985
Foucault, Michel, Language, Counter-Memory, Practice, New York: Cornell, 1977
Hutcheon, Linda. A Poetics of Postmodernism New York: Routledge, 1988.
Rushdie, Salman. Midnight's Children. London: Vintage,2006.
Rushdie, Salman. “Interview with Salman Rushdie” by C. Pattanayak. The Literary Criticism XVIII, 1983.
White, Hayden. “The Historical Text as Literary Artifact in Canary and Kozicki, 1978