Salman Rushdie’s oeuvre has conventionally been described in terms of the hybrid and the secular, a combination where resistance to political-ideological uniformity, dogmatism, and coercion is invariably valorized. But just how, in this fictional world, are the ideals of tolerance and diversity accomplished in the face of fundamentalism and sectarian religiosity? This article looks at The Moor’s Last Sigh and argues that Rushdie’s interest lies in a cultural paradigm shift from a Dionysian-Nietzschean readiness to scapegoat the foreign, the different, or the dissenting to what René Girard terms “devictimization,” that is, compassion for the victim and the comprehension of the underlying injustice in collective violence. Exposing the so far critically neglected relevance of imitation and competition in the politically motivated abuse of undesirable groups and individuals, this study contends that Rushdie’s novelistic project suggests a possible, if utopistic, solution to the challenges posed by collective violence in contemporary South Asia.


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pp. 486-509
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