Subaltern Envy? Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh

In: Reconstructing Hybridity

Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh presents a case study in ressentiment through the eponymous character Moraes Zogoiby, ‘the Moor,’ who experiences his hybridity as a handicap but also regards it as an entitlement. A social outcast and member of an ethnic minority, the mongrel Moor seeks retribution for his own painful alienation by reconstructing himself as a victim while lashing out to victimize others on the questionable grounds of his victimhood. His self-rationalization is couched in the discourse of minority rights, universalism, democratic values – and hybridity. In his contradictory character we are meant to recognize the perplexities of postcolonial India’s contradictions, such as that between universalist socialist secularism and violently exclusivist Hindu nationalism. Rushdie’s novel turns on a driving ethico-political exploration, posing the question of the failure of the postcolonial nation-state’s avowed pluralism and the rise of majoritarian ethnonationalism disguised as tolerant universalism.

Reconstructing Hybridity

Post-Colonial Studies in Transition

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