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Book 2: Satanic Verses

October 19, 2009

Satanic Versus

Satanic Versus

A meeting of a dictionary and an encyclopedia have haunted me while I have attempted to finish reading this book.  As I review it for you, I am conscious of the fact that my mind is neither of these books of reference and cannot begin to fathom the depths at which Rushdie’s mind existed more than 20 years ago.

From what I can understand, two men are sent flying from a plane exploded by terrorist, on their way down they are saved/transformed into good and evil the form of an angel and devil.  Throughout the book their roles interchange (or maybe not) and stories are told to tie the current world in with the world of the Koran ( I think).  Stories of Imams and prophets, pilgrimages and idol worship, love and loss, all line the pages of this book as the inside track and the periphery of an intricate story of finding one’s role is played out in biblical terms.

I have decided not to look up anything about this book in order to review it because I feel much has been said and much has changed in the decades since this book was written.  I conclude that my own reaction, whether far off or somewhat on topic is the only relevant opinion I can write.  I know there has been more than just simple controversy surrounding this book.  I know that death threats have been made in a few different languages and that Rushdie is still not welcome everywhere.  Throughout the first half of this book, I reconciled that there was much to be offended by if the right person was to read this as heresy but on the scale that I understand this loathing to exist, I was surprised by its lack of blasphemous fervor.  Then the tone changed as the two main characters geared up for a confrontation.

Stories of faith close enough to my understanding of Islam, which is not much, surfaced in a way that would mirror, mock and torment a follower of Muhommed to a possible physical outcry.  Without being literal in any (as far as I can tell) of his critique, Rushdie points and laughs at the idea of a spiritual being on Earth while giving credence  to the masses of followers by showing them slip in and out of faith for both understandable and inexorable reasons.  To me, the author seems to show how human all this daily plight is and how so much of the religious life is a reaction to human problems.  When a communal indecency is decreed by the prophet, a rule is created to counter act the societal miscue.  Nothing is ever solved by the prophet before hand, nothing is ever professed, all that exists is a reactionary rule book by which one should live each day.

The miracles that exists in the novel are within individuals and do not represent the views, memories, or beliefs of the general public, in so much that the majority of people in the novel are none the wiser to the implied religious implications of the disaster that takes up the majority of the second half of the novel, chalking it up to racial uprising and a new world order, heartily shot down by “The Man” through media spin.

I loved reading this book, but must warn that I would put my level of understanding at 60-70 percent and while the conclusions I have made sit well with me, I would love to hear the opinion of anybody else who has read this book.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2010 9:42 pm

    I am thinking about reading this would you honestly recommend?? I am about 30% for reading the book but I really can’t decide.

    Thanks

    • October 18, 2010 8:43 pm

      well, the thing is, its confusing. I would say there is a significant portion of the book that I don’t fully understand. I almost got the impression that I shouldn’t have read it because the story goes over my head too much culturally. But, the high points of the book, namely the writing style and the major plot movement points are great. I read Midnight’s Children by him recently and thought it was spectacular. In fact, if a Rushdie book is what you want instead of just Satanic Verses, I would highly recommend Midnight’s Children. Its about the beginnings of India as a modern country and the supernatural abilities of the children born right around the time of independence. I learned a lot from it and was enthralled the entire time.

      As for Satanic Verses, I think the book could use some post learning to add to the historical context, perhaps even a few trips to wikipedia while reading it.

      • Lee permalink
        October 18, 2010 8:51 pm

        I picked it up cheap yesterday so I will go for it I have reviewed it and it looks good. Understanding it will be another matter. Thanks for the info.

      • October 19, 2010 12:15 am

        no problem, when your kid gets older check out Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Rushdie as well. I read it recently as an adult and enjoyed it a lot. As inventive as Roald Dahl. Great book. Good luck

    • October 18, 2010 8:43 pm

      well, the thing is, its confusing. I would say there is a significant portion of the book that I don’t fully understand. I almost got the impression that I shouldn’t have read it because the story goes over my head too much culturally. But, the high points of the book, namely the writing style and the major plot movement points are great. I read Midnight’s Children by him recently and thought it was spectacular. In fact, if a Rushdie book is what you want instead of just Satanic Verses, I would highly recommend Midnight’s Children. Its about the beginnings of India as a modern country and the supernatural abilities of the children born right around the time of independence. I learned a lot from it and was enthralled the entire time.

      As for Satanic Verses, I think the book could use some post learning to add to the historical context, perhaps even a few trips to wikipedia while reading it.

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