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The Enchantress of Florence
by Salman Rushdie
355 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Fiction/Literary/Historical/Fantasy

An experimental-ish magic realism novel, with interesting new perspective on historical figures--Amerigo Vespucci, Niccolò Machiavelli, Akbar the Great (the one who tried to invent one faith that encompassed all, I believe). The setting is European but with a global feel and non-Western reach. What plot exists revolves around a travelling storyteller who calls himself Mogor dell'Amore (the Mughal of Love in butchered French), who seeks and entrances Akbar the Great with his tale. Storytelling is definitely vital here, although I'd need to reread the book to understand fully. The frame tale is intricate and confusing but a beautiful reading experience with equally resonant prose--a good thing, because I wasn't kidding about the lack of driving plot motivation. Rather, it is a novel that wanders leisurely around time and space and grabs the reader's curiosity just enough to sustain itself, like Jodha is sustained by Akbar's passion/love/imagination. And if I hadn't read it too late, I might have chosen this novel instead of The Handmaid's Tale (similar drifting style, but totally different in genre) for my research paper.

I believe Rushdie is either atheist or agnostic, which may account for the appealing philosophical bits. I loved Akbar's musings on I/we pronouns, on the divine right of kings, on morality, on creation (where the magic realism part comes in). "Wherever goodness lay, it did not lie in ritual, unthinking obeisance before a deity but rather, perhaps, in the slow, clumsy, error-strewn working out of an individual or collective path" (310). I will be reading Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude in May, so I look forward to mentally comparing the two.


keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)

January 2011


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