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The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
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The Satanic Verses (original 1988; edition 1989)

by Salman Rushdie

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8,04087399 (3.77)446
Member:LaurelMildred
Title:The Satanic Verses
Authors:Salman Rushdie
Info:The Viking Press (1989), Hardcover, 560 pages
Collections:Your library, Fiction
Rating:****
Tags:None

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The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (1988)

Recently added byprivate library, Mirna974, busbice, Poelloeinpesae, magelet87, StevenLJones, MichaelLynnSr, kristi_test_02
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English (81)  Dutch (3)  Hungarian (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (87)
Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
“Fact is, religious faith, which encodes the highest aspirations of the human race, is now, in our country, the servant of lowest instincts, and God is the creature of evil.”

Fanatics swirl through Salman Rushdie’s surreal vision in [The Satanic Verses], heralded by an archangel and a devil falling from an exploding sky over the murky waters of the English Channel. Gibreel Fashita and Saladin Chamcha miraculously survive a terrorist bombing in the sky over London. As they fall, they go through a transformation, Gibreel in his mind and Saladin in his physical appearance. Deposited on a moor and taken in by an elderly widow, their transformations continue, Gibreel begins to lose touch with reality in spiritual dreams where he is an archangel and herald of an apocalypse, while Saladin undergoes a temporary physical metamorphosis into a goat-like demon.

If the psychedelic visions suffered by the two descending chrysalis aren’t enough to set the stage, Rushdie reveals his strategy in one of Gibreel’s early dreams. Washed up at Rosa Diamond’s home, convalescing through his transformation, he dreams of Rosa’s past in Argentina, where she and her husband met and were married. The dream, like many of Gibreel’s is an amalgamation of past and present and future, but it focuses on a gift from an amorous neighbor to Rosa: a copy of Amerigo Vespucci’s account of his voyages. The writer is described: “The man was a notorious fantasist, of course … but fantasy can be stronger than fact.” Rushdie announces his perspective with this description, announces that the fantasies he is about to weave will instruct, will uncover the truths of the world as he sees them.

The truth? Fanaticism, in all its many forms, whether religious or political or material or social, is a deadly distortion. And Rushdie gives no quarter to any platform. In one of Gibreel’s many dream lives, he consorts with Ayesha, a street urchin who convinces a village to walk a pilgrimage to Mecca through the Arabian Sea. Mizra Saeed, an unbeliever, refuses to walk with the pilgrims, following them in a Mercedes, heckling and cajoling them at every stop to abandon their suicide mission. Rushdie satirizes material fanaticism in the passage, “One day he got back to the station wagon to find that an empty coconut-shell thrown from the window of a passing bus had smashed his laminated windscreen, which looked, now, like a spider’s web full of diamond flies. He had to knock all the pieces out, and the glass diamonds seemed to be mocking him as they fell on to the road and into the car, they seemed to speak of the transience and worthlessness of earthly possession, but a secular man lives in the world of things and Mizra Saeed did not intend to be broken as easily as a windscreen.”

Rushdie turns his eye to social and political fanaticism as well, describing one character’s strength as a “perfect control of the languages that mattered: sociological, socialistic, black-radical, anti-anti-anti-racist, demagogic, oratorical, sermonic: the languages of power.” And the story follows Saladin through a Kafkaesque ordeal at the hands of the police who charge him for his attempt to enter the country illegally with his fall from the exploding plane, and then later through a race riot sparked by the police murder of a racial activist. As with his other stories, Rushdie carefully examines the difficulty of racial identity in a modern world where borders and associations are constantly shifting. Saladin himself is deeply conflicted about his own identity. Though an Indian Muslim, he struggles to leave Bombay and Islam behind, aching to be affiliated with London, to be a Brit. But as the book closes, Saladin returns to his childhood home and reconciles with his father and his family, achieving a measure of contentment.

But Rushdie reserves the better part of his energy for religious fanaticism. As the leading quote above demonstrates, there is a hair’s breadth between heartfelt spiritual fervor and selfish, corruptive misuse. Of the most controversial passages from [Satanic Verses] are Gibreel’s dreams of Mahound, a thinly veiled re-telling of Muhammad’s life. Rushdie’s most striking image in these accounts is a battle between Gibreel and a Pagan goddess. During the battle in the skies, the villagers below run toward the Imam’s palace for shelter. As he fights at the Imam’s will, Gibreel observes the Imam below lying in the palace court, his mouth yawning open at the gates, as the fleeing people march into his mouth and he swallows them whole. In another dream, Baal, a poet, serves as Mahound’s scribe. As the Prophet speaks, Baal begins to alter the words. Surprised at first with his own boldness, he becomes frightened that the Prophet didn’t catch on, that his doubts about the divinity of the Prophet and the message had been right all along. And in Gibreel’s dreams about Ayesha’s pilgrimage, she grows ever more strict and fanatical. When she is challenged, she disassociates herself, claiming only to be a Messenger and promising, vaguely, that the pilgrim’s sacrifices will be richly rewarded. Eventually, one of the pilgrims finally challenges her directly, “Then tell me why your God is so anxious to destroy the innocent? What’s he afraid of? Is he so unconfident that he needs us to die to prove our love?”

Sadly, the question that the pilgrim, and Rushdie, seem to avoid is a deeper one about whether the sacrifice and devotion is required by God for fulfillment of his own need or rather as a way to transmute the pilgrim’s own heart. In other words, while Ayesha may be driven by her own selfish desires, the pilgrim’s premise is faulty – that God requires something because he needs it. A perfectly reasonable alternative is that God requires sacrifice and devotion because the pilgrim needs it, and that Ayesha and Mahound and other religious fanatics, have corrupted the divine. Rushdie almost gets to this perspective – during one of the Imam’s rants, he says, “We long for the eternal, and I am eternity.” This is essentially a reshaping of Solomon’s proclamation in Ecclesiastes 3:11: “He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

While Rushdie laments the consequences of fanaticism, he also revels in the beautiful, messy contradictions of the world. Alleluia Cone, Gibreel’s real life lover, but also the mold for Al-Lat, the Pagan goddess, in Gibreel’s dream world, is told by her father, a Polish émigré and survivor of a wartime prison camp, about “the most dangerous of all the lies we are fed in our lives. … Anybody ever tries to tell you how this most beautiful and most evil of planets is somehow homogeneous, composed only of reconcilable elements, that it all adds up, you get on the phone to the straightjacket tailor. … The world is incompatible, just never forget it, gaga. Ghosts, Nazis, saints, all alive at the same time; in one spot, blissful happiness, while down the road, the inferno. You can’t ask for a wilder place.” Much of this sentiment is reduced into Gibreel and Saladin’s own minds, hyper-focusing the wild diversity of thought and emotion into the mind of one man alone, its larger manifestation projected onto the face of the earth in a Felliniesque muddle.

The story of [The Satanic Verses] sadly escaped the pages of the book, allowing Rushdie an even wider arena for his message. Islamic fundamentalists viewed the work as blasphemous and the Ayatollah Khomeini called for a fatwa against Rushdie. The book was reviled and burned by these fundamentalists. Politicians, including high-ranking British parliament members, called for the book to be banned, fearing religious and racial violence. Attempts were made on Rushdie’s life. When he went into hiding and received protective police assistance, the fatwa was shifted to include publishers and translators. A Japanese translator was stabbed to death; an Italian translator survived a stabbing; a Norwegian publisher survived a shooting; and 37 people were killed in Turkey when a Turkish translator was targeted. The fanatical reaction to the publication of the book could’ve easily been an epilogue to the book itself.

Ultimately, [The Satanic Verses] is a solid, if extremely subtle book. Though it doesn’t seem subtle from the subject matter, so much religious and racial material underpins the book that many of the connections can be missed. Thankfully, the Rushdie’s skillfully provides an evocative and thought provoking story that can be read on multiple levels. Nothing about the book on its face should’ve caused the fanatical reaction, but that’s just Rushdie winking at us all.

Bottom Line: Another epic of magical realism; the irony of the book is rooted in the fanatical reaction the book engendered, mirroring Rushdie’s own themes.
4 bones!!!!! ( )
8 vote blackdogbooks | Jun 29, 2015 |
I started reading this book ten years ago, and have been trying to get back to it ever since. I'm proud to say I have now read through to the end. I enjoyed the imagery, the layers of cultures and symbolism, even the plot, but the ending fell a bit flat for me. Towards the end, the characters go even crazier than usual, and the prose deteriorates to illustrate their mental decay, which reads less well than I'd like. I enjoyed reading The Satanic Verses, and might have given it 5 stars if I didn't also feel like it was a bit too much hard work, if I weren't so glad to finally be done with it. ( )
  Amelia_Smith | May 2, 2015 |
I loved listening to this as Rushdie's word have some poetry to them. However, there were some parts that confused me as I did not understand all the religious nuances. ( )
  bookwyrmm | Feb 2, 2015 |
The books takes a lot longer to read then you think it would. It was tough to get through the beginning because it is very confusing. The timelines jump back and forth and there are a lot of dream sequences throughout the book. In the end it was completely worth it though. The characters were great (and vast), and it is a very original novel. I really like the ending as this isn't really a book you read for the plot, but it still comes together at the end. ( )
  renbedell | Jan 19, 2015 |
This book did not make any sense. I think 500-page dream sequences aren't really my thing. Also, the rather loose use of English sentences was cool for the first few pages, and then it just made the book harder to read. ( )
  lavaturtle | Dec 31, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
Talent? Not in question. Big talent. Ambition? Boundless ambition. Salman Rushdie is a storyteller of prodigious powers, able to conjure up whole geographies, causalities, climates, creatures, customs, out of thin air. Yet, in the end, what have we? As a display of narrative energy and wealth of invention, ''The Satanic Verses'' is impressive. As a sustained exploration of the human condition, it flies apart into delirium.
 

» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Salman Rushdieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Capriolo, EttoreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Emeis, MarijkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Häilä, ArtoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Satan, being thus confined to a vagabond, wandering, unsettled condition, is without any certain abode; for though he has, in consequence of his angelic nature, a kind of empire in the liquid waste or air, yet this is certainly part of his punishment, that he is... without any fixed place, or space, allowed him to rest the sole of his foot upon." ~ daniel defoe, the history of the devil
Dedication
Dedicated to the individuals and organizations who have supported this publication.
First words
"To be born again " sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, "first you have to die."
Quotations
If you live in the twentieth century you do not find it hard to see yourself in those, more desperate than yourself, who seek to shape it to their will.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A tale of two men/human angel and demon/amazing writing!  (ReadWriteLib)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312270828, Paperback)

No book in modern times has matched the uproar sparked by Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, which earned its author a death sentence. Furor aside, it is a marvelously erudite study of good and evil, a feast of language served up by a writer at the height of his powers, and a rollicking comic fable. The book begins with two Indians, Gibreel Farishta ("for fifteen years the biggest star in the history of the Indian movies") and Saladin Chamcha, a Bombay expatriate returning from his first visit to his homeland in 15 years, plummeting from the sky after the explosion of their jetliner, and proceeds through a series of metamorphoses, dreams and revelations. Rushdie's powers of invention are astonishing in this Whitbread Prize winner.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:39 -0400)

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"Dean Fletcher had spent virtually all his twenty-four years doing things practically guaranteed to land him in trouble. But not until he fell for a blonde nymphet named Kayleigh Scott did he manage to totally ruin his life. Kayleigh had told him she was eighteen. In truth she was not quite thirteen, and poor Dean was soon off to prison, a convicted sex offender, still smitten with his adolescent lover." "Now he's finally free again, only to be ensnared by two crimes that have Lloyd pulling out what's left of his hair. One is an infant kidnapping (the child was born within hours of Lloyd's and Judy's own baby, Charlotte); the other is the murder of Kayleigh's mother, Lesley, on the very eve of the family's sudden move to Australia.". "Fortunately, Lloyd thinks he hears the ring of truth in Dean's declarations of innocence. He is extremely curious about Lesley's new lover, Ian, who has jumped headfirst into another relationship, and her old lover, Phil, whose world she had destroyed. And for all her air of placid innocence, Kayleigh herself isn't above suspicion." "With Judy out on maternity leave, Lloyd is obliged to pick his way alone through the minefield of birth, death, murder, and domestic evil."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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