Rushdie agrees with Akbar: ‘Of course, the novel enormously heightens and increases that porosity — but actually the border between the world of dreams and the waking world is porous. We all dream things into being, you imagine yourself having a child and then you have a child. An inventor will think of something in his mind and then make it actual. So things are often passing from the imagined realm into the real world. It is much harder to do it the other way round!’
The staple Rushdie theme of multiple identities is here, too. The Emperor reflects that we are ‘bags of selves, bursting with plurality’. Yet the deeper preoccupation in the book is the emergence of humanism and of the self as distinct from the group, not only in Renaissance Florence, but in Akbar’s musings. ‘Were there such naked, solitary “I’s” buried beneath the overcrowded “we’s” of the earth?’ the Emperor asks himself.
more from The Spectator here.