Sunday, 3 February 2013

Salman Rushdie – The Moor’s last sigh 1996

This is a book about India and what the narrator, the Moor – a Jewish Christian in India, i.e. double outsider - loves about it.  And how all is lost, without the Moor or anyone else fighting for it.
Hence the title: the moor’s last sigh, i.e. the moment when Boabdil, the last King of the Alhambra, which he gave up to the Christian without fighting for it. Fleeing he turns one last time to it and sighs and his mother says: “That since he had not been able to defend it like a man, he was right in crying for it like a woman.”

Yet, I never managed to connect to the book. All the language games were funny, but somehow felt a bit like too technical, rather than engaging. It feels like a book about language, rather than a book about life. The single parts and quotes you see here make me interested in reading more. But as a book, it wasn’t gripping.

„Suspiro ergo sum.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.81). „A sigh isn’t just a sigh. We inhale the world and breathe out meaning. While we can. While we can.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.81).

„for Indian rats, as we know, carry gods as well as plagues.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.175).

„My three sisters were born in quick succession, and Aurora carried and ejected each oft hem with such perfunctory attention to their presence that they knew, long befroe their births, that she would make few concessions to their post-partum needs. The names she gave them confirmed these suspicions. The eldest, originally called Christina in spite of her Jewish father’s protests, eventually had her name sliced in half. ‚Stop sulking, Abie,’ Aurora commanded. ‚From now on she’s plain Ina without the Christ.’ So poor In grew up wioth only half a handle, and when the second child was born a year later matters were made worse because this time Aurora insisted on ‚Inamorata’. Abraham protested again: ‚People will confuse,’ he said plaintively. ‚And with this Ina-more it is like saying she is Ina-plus ...’ Aurora shrugged. ‚Ina was a ten pound baby, the little so-and-so,’ she reminded Abraham. ‚Head like a cannonball, hips like a ship’s behind. How can this little pocket mousey be anything but Ina-minus?’ Within a week, she had decided that Baby Inamorata, the five-pound mouse, bore a close resemblance to a famous cartoon rodent – ‚all big ears, wide eyes and polka dots’ – and my middle suster was always Minnie after that. When Aurora announced, eighteen months later, that her newborn third daughter would be Philomina, Abraham tore his hair. ‚Now comes this Minnie-‚meena mix-up,’ he groaned. ‚And another –ina, too.’“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.199).

„the point I am making is that, while there can be no disputing that I was conceived in the Lord’s Central house, Matheran, it is also unarguably the case that when Baby Gargantua Zogoiby drew his first, surprising breath at the elite private nursing home-cum-nunnery oft he Sisters of Maria Gratiaplena on Altamount Road, Bomby, his physical development was already so advanced – a generous erection serving somewhat to impede his passage down the birth canal – that nobody in their right mond would have though of calling him half-formed.
Premature? Post-mature is much more like it.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.205).

„if he opposed answer-and-question pairs there/where, then/when, that/what, thither/whither, thence/whence all existed, then, Vasco argued, ‚every this must also have ist whis, every these ist whese, every those its whoase.’“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.214).

„And if life is hard for ‚natural’ left-handers, how much harder it was for me – it turned out that I was a right-handed entity, a dexter, whose right hand just happened to be a wreck. It was as hard for me to learn to write with my left as it would be for any righty in the world.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.217).

„the knowledge that life had dealt me a bad hand, and a freak of nature was obliging me to play it out too fast.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.217).

„It seemed that in the pursuit of his chosen future he had shed all affiliations of blood and place, a decision which implied a certain ruthlessness, and hinted too, at instability. He was his own invention, and it should have occurred to Aurora – as it occurred to Abraham and to many members of their circle, as it occurred to my sisters but not to me that the invention might not work, that in the end it might fall apart.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.222).

„I was secretly rejoicing in all that compacted humanity, in being pushed so tightly together that privacy ceased to exist and the boundaries of your self began to dissolve, that feeling which we only get when we are in crowds, or in love.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.272).

„There was a knotty tree-stump pf a mole – signifying the recalcitrance of true faith – on her upper lip, and from it there protruded like arrows – hinting at the sufferings of a true believer – half a dozen needles of hair.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.297).

„The very nature of this inter-community league of cynical self-interest gave the lie to Mainduck’s vision of a theocracy in which one particular variant of Hinduism would rule, while all India’s other people bowed their beaten heads.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.3465).

„In room after empty room I found the settings of Aurora’s pictures brought to life, and I half-expected her characters to walk in and enact their sad narrative before my disbelieving eyes, half-expected my own body to frow into that lozenged, particoloured Moor whose tragedy – the tragedy of multiplicity destroyed by singularity, the defeat of Many by One – had been the sequence’s uniting principle.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.570).

„Follow your instincts and outstincts! Here he may be undercover but you have seem him overcover!“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.581).

„Why should I believe a word of that Minto story, after all? O, I was lost in fictions.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.583).

„How, when the past is gone, when all’s exploded and in rags, may one apportion blame?“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.584).

„’All of you ... terrible, terrible.’ Then after a pause: ‚Couldn’t you all have just ... calmed down?’“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.597).

„The Alhambra, Europe’s red fort, sister to Delhi’s and Agra’s – the palace of interlocking forms and secret wisdom, of pleasure-courts and water-gardens, that monument to a lost possibility that nevertheless has gone on standing, long after ist conquerors have fallen.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.605).

„to that most profound of our needs, to our need for flowing together, for putting an end to frontiers, fort he dropping of boundaries oft he self.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.605).

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