Hartung-Gorre Verlag

Inh.: Dr. Renate Gorre

D-78465 Konstanz

Fon: +49 (0)7533 97227

Fax: +49 (0)7533 97228




Published in August 2015




Svenja Menkhaus


The Metaphysics of Migration


On Border-Crossing and

Uninhabitable Transitory Spaces

in Salman Rushdie‘s Novels


1st Edition 2015. 280 pages, € 39,80.

ISBN 978-3-86628-544-6









To the contents of the book



Reading Rushdie’s novels one quickly notices that most of his characters are migrants crossing borders. What happens to these migrant protagonists during their border-crossing and what meaning is given to the borders they cross?

Departing from the Lotmanian premise that all action of a novel is linked to a norm defying action violating a certain normative boundary or even a physical border between fictional spaces, this book proposes to conceive of the border in Rushdie’s novels, as more than just a demarcation between places. The border is narratively enlarged to a space: the Uninhabitable Transitory Space of the Border. In this space the characters of Rushdie’s novels change profoundly, reinvent themselves as much as the adjacent places. Hence the Uninhabitable Transitory Space of the Border becomes their space of identity construction. Part of this construction of identities is that unanswerable, metaphysical questions about the human condition are once again asked. Rushdie uses this realm of the imagination to juxtapose different value systems based on various systems of belief. Therefore, the Uninhabitable Transitory Space of the Border permits to question all basic assumptions concerning religious belief and even scientific models like the Big Bang theory – ultimately unveiling science as a secular system of belief in which any assumption may only be held to be true until another assumption takes its place...

The world picture of the protagonists is shaken by the profound experience of border-crossing and leads to a critical reevaluation of things otherwise taken for granted. The contents of this book might be of value not only to literary scholars, but also to ethnologists interested in postmodern intertwining of religious and secular world pictures, since it offers a broad study of cross-cultural and interreligious links in Rushdie’s novels.


About the Author


Svenja Menkhaus studied English and French literature and linguistics at the University of Constance. After her graduation (State Exam and Magistra Artium) she became a PhD student at the literature department of Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Assmann. She received two grants to support her PhD project, one by the Gleichstellungsrat of the University of Constance and another one by the Cusanuswerk.

Her long stays in Great Britain and Canada, but also her large international circle of friends, have caused her interest in migration and identity construction. Therefore, she works on the representation of identity constructions in contemporary novels focusing on the topic of migration. Her dissertation The Metaphysics of Migration – On Border-Crossing and Uninhabitable Transitory Spaces in Salman Rushdie’s Novels deals with the meaning of the border as an Uninhabitable Transitory Space in Salman Rushdie’s novels.

Today, she teaches English and French at a grammar school.


The Series of the Yearbooks <Germanistik in Ireland>


Volume 11 / 2016

Transit oder Transformation? Sprachliche und literarische Grenzüberschreitungen

Transit or Transformation? Border Crossings in Language and Literature

Ed. Gillian Pye and Christiane Schönfeld

1st edition / 1. Auflage 2016, 170 pages/Seiten, € 20,00.

ISBN 978-3-86628-573-6



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