Transnational Shakespeare

Salman Rushdie and Intertextual Appropriation


  • Parmita Kapadia Northern Kentucky University


Through "Yorick" and The Moor's Last Sigh Salman Rushdie maps the ever-present hybridity between, and, significantly, within literary texts and the cultures that produce and receive them. Thus, Rushdie's postmodern, metafictive palimsests ironically reveal how Shakespeare's literary endurance and global iconic status depend upon the revisions, adaptations, and appropriations of his work. Recognizing the cultural, historical, linguistic, and literary multivalency of Rushdie's "Yorick" and The Moor's Last Sigh prompts a move away from the restrictive binary structures that oppose canonical texts to counter-discursive ones and suggests, instead, an intertextuality that actualizes the interstitial spaces and interconnectivity characterizing transnational appropriations of Shakespeare's plays. Rushdie's intertextual re-construction of Shakespeare — spanning as it does histories, geographies, time periods, literary genres, and cultures — destabilizes the principal binary that governs much of postcolonial Shakespearean discourse: the canonical/appropriation partition that divides the iconic Shakespeare of the West from the "local" reimaginings of the rest. Because of the fragmented quality of Rushdie's Shakespearean references, neither "Yorick" nor The Moor's Last Sigh offers the reader a straightforward retelling; instead, Rushdie's metafictive narrative style highlights the volatility of the Shakespearean text itself.

Author Biography

Parmita Kapadia, Northern Kentucky University

Parmita Kapadia has done extensive work on postcolonial Shakespeare in India. Her book (with Craig Dionne), Native Shakespeares: Indigenous Appropriations on a Global Stage, was published by Ashgate (2008), and she is currently working on a project about diaspora and transnationalism. She is an Associate Professor of English at Northern Kentucky University, where she specializes in Shakespeare studies and postcolonial literatures.