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Delightful failure

Salman Rushdie has produced his most vital novel since "Midnight's Children," yet it is a post-modern failure. The critical reception of "The Ground Beneath her Feet" points to a growing unease with the kind of novel Rushdie now write.

By James Wood   June 1999

Is world literature desirable? It was Goethe who first spoke of world literature, but its existence is quite recent; it was born with modernism, and now flourishes darkly in an age of post-modernism. When writers became exiles or ?migr?s, when they began to write in their second or even third languages and, above all, when the experience of this displacement became the subject of their work, then world literature was born, for better or worse. Salman Rushdie is the purest example of this negative liberty-literally homeless, he writes about the actual and figurative centrifuges of modern life. Infamous as a…

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