Rushdie V le Carre: Hostilities End

Article excerpt

One of the most bitter literary feuds of recent decades has ended. Salman Rushdie, it seems, has finally forgiven John le Cane for failing to support him as many other writers did when Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against the author of The Satanic Verses on 14 February 1989. At the time of the fatwa, le Carre said that one "made light of the Book at your peril ... A peculiar justification used by Rushdie's most vociferous defenders is that his novel has great literary merit--some insist it is a masterpiece ... Are we to believe that those who write literature have a greater right to free speech than those who write pulp?" In 1997, in an exchange of letters published in a newspaper, Rushdie called le Cure "an illiterate, pompous ass"; le Cane ridiculed Rushdie as a "self-canonising, arrogant colonialist".

The origins of the feud are thought to stretch back to a mocking review Rushdie wrote of le Carre's The Russia House (1989). Le Cane, wrote Rushdie, "wants his work to transcend the genre and be treated as Serious Literature . …