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  • It begins with a countdown.

  • On August 14th, 1947,

  • a woman in Bombay goes into labor as the clock ticks towards midnight.

  • Across India, people hold their breath for the declaration of independence

  • after nearly two centuries of British occupation and rule.

  • And at the stroke of midnight,

  • a squirming infant and two new nations are born in perfect synchronicity.

  • These events form the foundation of "Midnight's Children,"

  • a dazzling novel by the British-Indian author Salman Rushdie.

  • The baby who is the exact same age as the nation is Saleem Sinai,

  • the novel's protagonist.

  • His narrative stretches over 30 years of his life,

  • jumping backwards and forwards in time to speculate on family secrets

  • and deep-seated mysteries.

  • These include the greatest enigma of all: Saleem has magic powers,

  • and they're somehow related to the time of his birth.

  • And he's not the only one.

  • All children born in and around the stroke of midnight

  • are imbued with extraordinary powers;

  • like Parvati the Witch, a spectacular conjurer;

  • and Saleem's nemesis Shiva, a gifted warrior.

  • With his powers of telepathy,

  • Saleem forges connections with a vast network of the children of midnight

  • including a figure who can step through time and mirrors,

  • a child who changes their gender when immersed in water,

  • and multilingual conjoined twins.

  • Saleem acts as a delightful guide to magical happenings

  • and historical context alike.

  • Although his birthday is a day of celebration,

  • it also marks a turbulent period in Indian history.

  • In 1948, the leader of the Indian independence movement,

  • Mahatma Gandhi, was assassinated.

  • Independence also coincided with Partition,

  • which divided British-controlled India

  • into the two nations of India and Pakistan.

  • This contributed to the outbreak of the Indo-Pakistani Wars in 1965 and 1971.

  • Saleem touches on all this and more,

  • tracing the establishment of Bangladesh in 1971

  • and the emergency rule of Indira Gandhi.

  • This vast historical frame is one reason why "Midnight's Children"

  • is considered one of the most illuminating works of postcolonial literature

  • ever written.

  • This genre typically addresses the experience of people living in colonized

  • and formerly colonized countries,

  • and explores the fallout through themes like revolution, migration, and identity.

  • Rushdie, who like Saleem was born in 1947, was educated in India and Britain,

  • and is renowned for his cross-continental histories, political commentary,

  • and magical realism.

  • He enriches "Midnight's Children" with a plethora of Indian

  • and Pakistani cultural references,

  • from family traditions to food, religion and folktales.

  • Scribbling by night under the watchful eyes of his lover Padma,

  • Saleem's frame narrative echoes that of "1001 Nights,"

  • where a woman named Scheherazade tells her king a series of stories

  • to keep herself alive.

  • And as Saleem sees it,

  • 1001 isthe number of night, of magic, of alternative realities.”

  • Over the course of the novel,

  • Rushdie dazzles us with multiple versions of reality.

  • Sometimes, this is like reading a rollercoaster.

  • Saleem narrates:

  • Who what am I? My answer:

  • I am everyone everything whose being-in- the-world affected was affected by mine.

  • I am anything that happens after I've gone

  • which would not have happened if I had not come.

  • Nor am I particularly exceptional in this matter;

  • each 'I,' every one of the now-six- hundred-million-plus of us,

  • contains a similar multitude.

  • I repeat for the last time:

  • to understand me, you'll have to swallow a world.”

  • Saleem's narrative often has a breathless quality

  • and even as Rushdie depicts the cosmological consequences of a life,

  • he questions the idea that we can ever condense history into a single narrative.

  • His mind-bending plot and shapeshifting characters

  • have garnered continuing fascination and praise.

  • Not only did "Midnight's Children" win the prestigious Man Booker Prize

  • in its year of publication,

  • but in a 2008 competition that pitted all 39 winners against each other,

  • it was named the best of all the winners.

  • In a masterpiece of epic proportions,

  • Rushdie reveals that there are no singular truths

  • rather, it's wiser to believe in several versions of reality at once,

  • hold many lives in the palms of our hands,

  • and experience multiple moments in a single stroke of the clock.

It begins with a countdown.

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真夜中の子供たち』を読むべき理由とは?- イゼルト・ガレスピー (Why should you read “Midnight’s Children”? - Iseult Gillespie)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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