In contrast to previous analyses that foreground ideas like hybridity, insterstitiality, and globalization in Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence (2008), this article explores Rushdie’s critical engagement with humanism in the novel. The Enchantress of Florence plays with the literary form of utopia by juxtaposing anachronistic worlds in an act of unhistorical imagination. Shifting across different geographical spaces—Renaissance Italy, Mughal India, and the Americas—the text decenters the humanist self that emerges in Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, contrasting it with another tradition of humanism from the Indian subcontinent. Highlighting the importance of gender to the novel’s reflection on the place and nature of “man,” I examine the “mirrors” created by the enchantresses of Florence and Fatehpur Sikri for their princes, which reflect worlds in which strength derives from egalitarian relations. Rushdie’s utopic play runs aground in the New World, however, marking the limits of his critical humanism.


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pp. 105-125
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