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a very enjoyable Rushdie
The Enchantress of Florence is the 10th book by Salman Rushdie. Set amongst the extremes and excesses of Renaissance Florence and in the city of Fatehpur Sikri in Mughal India, it tells the story of a hidden Mughal princess, Princess Qara Köz, the Lady Black Eyes, also known as Angelica, who had the ability to enchant both men and women. The story is told to the Hindustan Emperor Abul-Fath Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar, The Grand Mughal, grandson of Babar, by a Florentine storyteller dressed in a long patchwork cloak made up of bright harlequin lozenges of leather, the yellow haired Niccoló Antonino Vespucci, who called himself Mogol dell’Amore, and seems also to be an enchanter. Akbar, listening to him, thought: “…that witchcraft requires no potions, familiar spirits or magic words. Language upon a silvered tongue affords enchantment enough.” This tale abounds with battles won and lost, villains and heroes, slaves and sultans, soldiers and sailors, witches and magic, lovers real and imaginary; the Medicis, Machiavelli, Argalia, various Vespuccis and Vlad the Impaler all make an appearance. While Rushdie’s usual wordplay and much of his magical reality are absent, this novel is full of luscious prose; there is much rich detail, the characters are memorable and the plot is excellent; it had some of the feel of Haroun and the Sea of Stories. I enjoyed this book much more than either Midnight’s Children or the Moor’s Last Sigh.
You have to get it
This is a book that requires first and foremost a love of and prior knowledge of world history, and particularly of Indian history. If you don't have this prior knowledge (which all truly cultured people should), its likely that you just won't get it. An understanding of history however is not enough, and its not enough to understand the principles of mysticism, this book requires the reader to have already had actual mystical experiences, and to have wrestled with their meaning or lack thereof. Rushdie writes in the clear tradition of Hesse. This book is about the adoration, nay, the deification, of women who aren't central characters. Its the logical continuation of Demian and Narcissus and Goldman. Some have called the climax unsatisfying. The anti- climax is the entire point. The joy of this book is in the reading of it, the thoughts and the laughter it provokes. This book is beyond reproach.