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Salman Rushdie on the Renaissance, the fantastic, and the power of beauty

Monitor reviewer Erik Spanberg interviews Salman Rushdie.

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Monitor book reviewer Erik Spanberg recently spoke with author Salman Rushdie about his work, including his latest novel The Enchantress of Florence. Here are excerpts from their conversation:

Your latest novel, “The Enchantress of Florence,” hits on the familiar theme of East meets West, but delves into the history of 16th-century Florence as well as India. What pushed you in that direction?

I just thought, in a way, this is a period at which the encounter between East and West was really beginning. It was just the moment at which India during the great Mogul Empire and Europe at the height of the Renaissance were becoming aware of each other. I thought if one wants to explore this very rich and at times of course problematic engagement between these two worlds it would be interesting to go back to the beginning of the story.

In terms of going back to the beginning of the story, I’m sure you were struck by plenty of modern parallels, were you not?
It’s really easy to find the parallels because then, as now, was a time of war. Then, as now, was a time of both, sort of, mutual excitement by the encounter but also mutual suspicion and distrust and hostility. We’ve been doing this to each other for hundreds of years.

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