Archive for June, 2013

Paper: ‘Salman Rushdie’s “Shalimar the Clown”: a Secularist Manifesto?’

My paper: ‘Salman Rushdie’s “Shalimar the Clown”: a Secularist Manifesto?’,  delivered at the international conference ‘Education and Secularism’, held on 30-31 May 2013 at the Université de Cergy-Pontoise, France, is now available on-line at:

Click to access RushdieShalimarCergyEN.pdf


Salman Rushdie’s commitment to secularism is a constant across his entire work, both fiction and non-fiction. Indeed, he may be described as a secular intellectual in the sense proposed by Edward Said in Representations of the Intellectual (1994). In his non-fiction, Rushdie has clearly and repeatedly affirmed secularist principles as he sees them, in a range of essays to be found in the volumes Imaginary Homelands (1991) and Step Across This Line (2002), and, most recently, in his memoir Joseph Anton (2012). This paper will endeavour to show how, in his novel of 2005 Shalimar the Clown (arguably the most secularist of all his fictional works), Rushdie puts forward the traditional culture and artisanal skills of Kashmir as embodying a kind of parallel or non-formal education, while also constituting a metonym for secularism in the Indian sense of neutrality between religious groups; and how this narrative, which, if centred on Kashmir, fans out in space and time to Nazi Europe, and to the contemporary US with its death penalty and its global interventionism, further implies a broader, transcultural vision of secularism as a libertarian world-view that is grounded in both the rational and the creative.

Note added 17 January 2014: The French-language version of this paper has now been published (see entry on this blog for 16 January 2014) as:

« ‘Shalimar the Clown’, de Salman Rushdie, récit laïque: une éducation séculaire et syncrétiste », in Evelyne Hanquart-Turner and Ludmila Volna (eds.), Éducation et Sécularisme: Perspectives africaines et asiatiques, Paris: Éditions Harmattan, 2013, pp. 197-210

Note added 15 May 2014: The English-language version of the paper has now been published (see entry on this blog for 15 May 2014) as:

“Salman Rushdie’s ‘Shalimar the Clown’: A Secularist Manifesto?’, in Journal of the Odisha Association for English Studies (Baleswar, India), Vol. 4, Issue 1, 2014, pp. 106-116





Now out is the 2013 issue (Vol 3, Issue 1) of the Journal of the Odisha Association for English Studies (ISSN 2249-6726), published in Baleswar, Odisha (Orissa), India and edited by Dr Santwana Haldar.

The journal’s 300 pages encompass a remarkably wide range of material. There are of course articles on Indian Writing in English (e.g. Yakaiah Kathy, « The Personal and the Public: History in [Rushdie’s] ‘Midnight’s Children’ » and N.K. Neb, « Intervention of Postmodern Perspectives and Manju Kapur’s Feminist Stance in ‘A Married Woman’ »), as well as on older Indian traditions (Rajeshwar Mittapalli, « Bhakti Literature and Recent Indian Fiction: the Politics and Poetics of Protest »). Featured too are other Asian literatures (Jalal Uddin Khan, « The Arabian Nights: A Modern Introduction »), while the mainstream English canon is not neglected (Azadeh Davoudi Far, « English Women and Patriarchy: Interrogating Victorian Morality in Thomas Hardy’s ‘Jude the Obscure’; Pulakesh Ghosh, “The Titles of Dickens’ ‘Hard Times’: Effect, Structure and Vision”).

Present too are Translation Studies (Rama Kundu, « Translation of Creative Works: Problems and Perspectives ») and contemporary sociological concerns (Fewzia Bedjaoui, « British and Immigrant Organisations’ Background Involvement into Social Cohesion). There is also a creative writing section, including, notably, several contributions by Odisha’s master poet, Jayanta Mahapatra, as well as a number of book reviews – inter alia of Hilary Mantel’s « Bring Up the Bodies » and Aravind Adiga’s « Last Man in Tower » – by the editor, Santwana Haldar.

Also included is my own paper: Christopher Rollason, « Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe: From ‘The Chimes’ to ‘The Bells’ »  (pp. 67-75), originally given at the international conference ‘Charles Dickens and His Time’ at the New University of Lisbon (Portugal), 18-20 June 2012 (cf. entry on this blog for 27 June 2012). This paper is also available on-line at: