Asian Studies

Michigan Academician, Spring 2001 | Go to article overview
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Asian Studies


Angelology/Demonology in Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses. Zacharias P. Thundy, Northern Michigan University, English Department, Marquette, MI 49855; 219/271-8277

Blaise Pascal argues that human beings are neither angels nor brutes but suspended between two infinities. He warns that if we start acting like angels we'll become worse than beasts. Rushdie uses this Pascalian paradigm by developing a fictionalized angelogical/demonological lore around the characters of Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamchawalla. Though Rushdie uses the received notions of angels and devils from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition, his angels and devils are human beings capable of transforming themselves and of achieving redemption. In short, Rushdie's angelology/demonology is anthropology at its best.

Surviving the Gender Jungle in Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses. Diane Sautter, Northern Michigan University, 1401 Presque Isle, Marquette, MI 49855; dsaurter@nmu.edu

Within the general context of identity search, the predominant plot motive of Satanic Verses, Rushdie introduces a strong subtext concerning gender struggles. Gender contention deeply troubles the lives of his post-modern characters. Perhaps more surprising is Rushdie's move to have these struggles prefigured by the archetypal struggles between Allah and AI-Lat, the male and female deity principles from the time of his fictionalized Mohammed, named "Mahound" in the Satanic Verses sequences. The combined effect of the ancient and post-modern stories expresses a critique of patriarchy and suggests some provisional moves that may make sense in our time. As a comedy, Satanic Verses resolves the gender strife in a post-modern union which suggests happier outcomes to the contemporary combat. One major subtext in Satanic Verses is the remythologizing of gender.

Tracing the Indian Heritage: Adolescence and its Implications for Education in Rabindranath Tagore's Works. Abdul Latif, School of Education, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI 49401; 616/895-2079

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), the first Indian Nobel Laureate for literature in 1913 and the founder of Vishva-Dharati University, is also regarded as the poet of youth. In his poems, songs, short stories, dramas, novels, essays, letters, and speeches he addressed adolescence as a critic of child marriage, the dowry system, social class, and caste. In this paper, I have three objectives: (1) I organize Tagore's concept of adolescence from his collected works; (2) I analyze why he borrowed the Hindu idea that adolescence begins at about age 12 when the young receives the sacred thread and devotes himself to a course of study and service in the ashram (school) guided by a guru; and (3) I discuss how he reintroduced, in scientific form, the ancient practice of brahmachariyya in his own school, founded in 1901.

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