Salman Rushdie speaks up for French magazine Charlie Hebdo, says free …

17 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Rushdie tells UVM storytelling isn’t tidy.

The author Salman Rushdie, who lived for years under a death threat after his 1988 book The Satanic Verses drew the wrath of Iranian religious leaders, has spoken of his anger that 12 murdered Charlie Hebdo staff have been “vilified and called racists”. His talk, titled “What’s The Use Of Stories That Aren’t Even True?,” will include questions submitted from UVM students, recorded from a live broadcast Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015.

He said he was angered that, in the aftermath of the shootings by Islamic extremists, some from both the left and the right began to vilify the victims. “The French satirical tradition has always been very pointed and very harsh, and still is, you know,” Rushdie said. “The thing that I really resent is the way in which these, our dead comrades … who died using the same implement that I use, which is a pen or pencil, have been almost immediately vilified and called racists and I don’t know what else.” He said some believed speech should be free but should not upset anyone or go too far. “Both John F Kennedy and Nelson Mandela use the same three-word phrase which in my mind says it all, which is, ‘Freedom is indivisible,’” he said. “You can’t slice it up otherwise it ceases to be freedom. RYAN MERCER/FREE PRESS Not just because his 1988 novel, “The Satantic Verses” prompted Iranian clerics to put a price on his head — a death-sentence fatwa that has lingered on as a semi-official edict. You can dislike Charlie Hedbo … But the fact that you dislike them has nothing to do with their right to speak.” Rushdie’s visit to the University of Vermont to discuss his writing of his book Haroun and the Sea of Stories was planned months ago. Nor because, at the drop of a hat, he raises his voice in support of the slain writers, editors and cartoonists at the satirical Parisian journal Charlie Hebdo. National epics, bedtime stories, fairy tales, mythologies and religious parables establish us as “a storytelling animal,” Rushdie said. “We understand things better if they’re told to us as a story.” Early on, he added, the vital oral traditions of his native India enlarged his appreciation for narratives rich in digression, bawdy subplots, song and dance, local intrigue and mischief.

Indian folktales tend to be thinner on pious instruction, and “rather more amoral than their western counterparts,” Rushdie said: “They don’t try to teach you things, they just try to show you things that are true about human nature. Rushdie said he wrote the book at the request of his son, then 10 years old, who complained that Dad’s output had so far missed the mark (never mind that “Midnight’s Children” won the Booker Prize in 1981). “I said, ‘I’m in the middle of this novel right now; it’s a big, long complicated novel. Rushdie didn’t address directly his years living under the threat of death but he spoke of how the writings of authors who offend powerful people frequently outlive the criticism — even if the artists themselves don’t survive.

The “somewhat complicating effect” of the intervening fatwa, combined with the promise to his son, yielded a volume “about a battle between language and silence, between the virtues of speech and fear of speech being stifled,” he said. But doing that was not easy and artists could not occupy a middle ground. “And so artists who go to that edge and push outwards often find very powerful forces pushing back.

To push the boundaries outwards, you actually have to go to the boundaries and push. “Frontiers, as we know, are dangerous places, and also, there are plenty of people, powerful people in the world who don’t want the universe opened up a little more, who in fact would rather prefer it to be shut down,” he said. “So what we see from this, is that art has incredible resilience and strength.

Here you can write a commentary on the recording "Salman Rushdie speaks up for French magazine Charlie Hebdo, says free …".

* Required fields
All the reviews are moderated.
Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

About this site