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"The exchanges have taken place in a time-honored arena for mudslinging in Britain, the letters page of a newspaper"
November 14, 2012 8:41 PM   Subscribe

It took 15 years, but, as the Guardian reports, the feud between writers Salman Rushdie and John le Carre is at an end.
posted by subdee (37 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think in some ways the feud was premised on a fasle dichotomy to begin with (note, I have not read SV, I think of Rushdie as okay as a writer, doubt he's gonna get a lot of reads in 60 years): in that, not supporting SV, or whatever, is not de facto supporting fatwas etc.

Of course, I've had 11 years of rampant western islamaphobia to reach this conclusion, something neither of those two had the "luxury" of.
posted by smoke at 8:50 PM on November 14, 2012


Together they fight crime!
posted by Artw at 8:51 PM on November 14, 2012 [17 favorites]


TUPAC LIVES!
posted by roboton666 at 8:58 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Noted in passing, near the very end of the article:

The reconciliation between the two writers follows the rapprochement between writers V.S. Naipaul and Paul Theroux last year.

Wait, V.S. Naipaul is capable of reconciling with anybody in the world?
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:00 PM on November 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yet the feud between Rushdie and Khamenei continues
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:01 PM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


just as i predicted in my le carre/rushdie slashfic 10 years ago except with all of the heavy petting edited out because NPR are a bunch of gutless prudes, apparently.
posted by guybrush_threepwood at 9:05 PM on November 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


Damnit artw, your harmless one-liner has torpedoed this thread into weak joke morass!
posted by smoke at 9:08 PM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, my own literary feud with Ashley & JaQuavis burns on.
posted by neroli at 9:11 PM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


They should get a reality show in which they reunite feuding families. Their adorable accents and bookish ways would be disarming, captivating viewers and healing broken families. Stick them in that black cab with Stephen Fry and set them loose across america. Anyone got any pull at TLC ? Give them the slot after Here Comes Honey BooBoo.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:19 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't even know they were feuding.
Nor that John le Carre's name isn't actually John le Carre.


Mr. le Carre and Mr. Rushdie were striking blows in the letters columns for the tradition of literary invective."

This could have been solved 10 years ago with jelly.
posted by Mezentian at 9:52 PM on November 14, 2012


Our long literary nightmare is over.

Wait, what? They were fighting?
posted by crossoverman at 9:54 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is that Sal Bass in the photo?
posted by vidur at 9:56 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


John le Carre isn't dead?
posted by bardic at 10:10 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


note, I have not read SV

You really should read it. I remember the prose as being extraordinarily visual, but not in a "cinematic" kind of way. And the story, wherein a famous movie star and this other guy both miraculously survive a plane exploding in mid-air, and where the star emerges with the outward aspect of an angel and the other guy with the outward aspect of a demon, but the star acts demonically toward the world and the other guy acts with nobility and grace, is an interesting exploration of religious faith and symbolism and how it plays out in real life.

I haven't read the book in decades, but much of it has stuck with me (I admit, more in broad strokes than specific moments) since then. But the scene where the airplane explodes, the way that is described... that has been etched on my brain pretty deeply since that time.

I really should pick the book back up and reread it one of these days. It's sitting right THERE *points to a bookshelf in another room*.
posted by hippybear at 10:11 PM on November 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Strongly agree with hippybear. SV is an incredible book. Unless you are a deeply doctrinaire fundamentalist Muslim, you really should read it.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:14 PM on November 14, 2012


They should read it too.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:21 PM on November 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


And the story, wherein a famous movie star and this other guy both miraculously survive a plane exploding in mid-air, and where the star emerges with the outward aspect of an angel and the other guy with the outward aspect of a demon, but the star acts demonically toward the world and the other guy acts with nobility and grace, is an interesting exploration of religious faith and symbolism and how it plays out in real life.

Whoa, that's what was going on? I don't give up on books very easily, but I couldn't get into SV to save my own life. A bitter defeat.
posted by alex_skazat at 10:32 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't give up on books very easily, but I couldn't get into SV to save my own life. A bitter defeat.

It was one of those books I was having a hard time with until something just clicked into place and then I couldn't put it down and then I read everything else he's written. (And I still think it's his best.)
posted by neuromodulator at 10:36 PM on November 14, 2012


To be honest, any desire to read Rushdie has sort of disappeared in the past ten years or so as he slowly drifted into Islamophobic territory along with Amis and McEwan.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:39 PM on November 14, 2012


So don't read his more recent works and read this one, where he was attempting an honest exploration of religion (not specifically Islam).

Just because someone has become something now doesn't mean that what he produced before this particular now isn't worth reading. And I honestly think SV is worth the effort.
posted by hippybear at 10:43 PM on November 14, 2012


To be honest, any desire to read Rushdie has sort of disappeared in the past ten years or so as he slowly drifted into Islamophobic territory along with Amis and McEwan.

You left Frank Miller off that list.
posted by Mezentian at 10:46 PM on November 14, 2012


Midnight's Children is incredible too. Damn, Rushdie is really just something else as a writer.
posted by threeants at 11:35 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tried several times to read Satanic Verses.

Couldn't.
posted by jamjam at 11:40 PM on November 14, 2012


They should get a reality show in which they reunite feuding families.

Bring on THE FRANZEN!

but seriously, I am so glad this is over. This whole *thing* between these two has been - my teapot has never been so rattled, never endured such a - mega-storm.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:14 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


You really should read it.

Yeah, I've read enough of Rushdie, he's just not my cup of tea. I do love Tim Parks unsparing takedown (paywalled, alas) of The Ground Beneath Her Feet. Captures a lot of why Rushdie leaves me somewhat cold.
posted by smoke at 12:49 AM on November 15, 2012


Yet the feud between Rushdie and Khamenei continues

Actually, it's escalated.
posted by homunculus at 1:27 AM on November 15, 2012


To be honest, any desire to read Rushdie has sort of disappeared in the past ten years or so as he slowly drifted into Islamophobic territory along with Amis and McEwan.

When religious extremists directly threaten your life, and are known to have killed others after similar threats, it's kind of hard not to be afraid of them.
posted by Malor at 3:52 AM on November 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Rushdie may have forgiven him but I haven't. Nor any of the other nasty little arseholes who passively supported the fatwah. And yes, that is what they effectively did. They said that if you offend a religious person, you ask for whatever comes to you. Also, what Malor said.
posted by Decani at 5:13 AM on November 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Society for Dialogue and Reconciliation between Decani and John le Carré (the "SDRDJLC") was founded in the 1883, and continues its thankless work of promoting peace and understanding between Decani and John le Carré to this very day.

The SDRDJLC was established by Sir Daniel Millipede-Nipple (b. 1831, d. 1912), a passionate believer in the possibility of peace between these two great pseudonyms. And it was Sir Daniel's admirable devotion to his narcotic addiction that gave him the psychosis necessary to predict the Decani-John le Carré war, even before either side was born.

In 2012 the SDRDJLC hosted an international classical music festival in a shoebox under Blackfriars Bridge in London. Many celebrities from the world of classical music were chopped up into very fine slivers and blended into a soup-like mixture which was poured into the cardboard box in question, and a CD of the sloshing and gurgling sounds that this made is available for purchase.

You too can help the work of the SDRDJLC, and promote a world in which children will never die tragically in the cross-fire of snipers loyal to either the Decani or John le Carré factions. Send all your money now, and help us reduce the Decani-John le Carré conflict to the level of a "scuffle" or even a "tiff". Because peace IS possible.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:53 AM on November 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


*bends over, presents target, awaits retribution-in-kind*
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:55 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's been posted here before, but the thread didn't get many comments. If you haven't seen it, Rushdie's piece in the New Yorker from a few months ago is well worth reading. (Unlike 'The Ground Beneath Her Feet', which turned me off reading his actual novels....).
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:31 AM on November 15, 2012


To be honest, any desire to read Rushdie has sort of disappeared in the past ten years or so as he slowly drifted into Islamophobic territory along with Amis and McEwan.

Well, it may be that fundamentalist Muslims will still be able to murder him, and then you won't have to be bummed out by that issue any longer.
posted by Anything at 6:32 AM on November 15, 2012


@hippybear - for a moment I thought you were describing Dan Brown's Angels & Demons...
posted by zeoslap at 6:46 AM on November 15, 2012


This is good news. However, I don't think Le Carre's beef with Gucci Mane will be nearly as easy to settle.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:23 AM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, that was fascinating.

"The war of words didn't end with that. It played out in true pre-Internet fashion in the letters pages – with Rushdie calling Le Carre "a pompous ass," and Le Carre accusing the Booker Prize-winner of "self-canonization.""


Both of which ring somewhat true. Rushdie shows up as a literary interview or panel guest on the radio often enough here (thanks, CBC!), and last year CBC had a couple of amazing interviews with Le Carré. I'm not a big novel reader anymore (Midnight's Children was one of the last "big" novels I read), but I have very much enjoyed listening to those two men talk about a whole range of subjects. Both of them often leave me with the same feeling, which is that the purpose of civilization, in a way, is to encourage the existence of such sprawling intelligence. If that leads to the occasional spat in the letters section, so much the better.
posted by sneebler at 9:49 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting; I'm generally skeptical of Rushdie, but after reading all this my respect for Le Carré has really taken a plunge. It's one thing to quietly think that "there is no law in life or nature that says that great religions may be insulted with impunity" (although, yuck), it's another to have actively written a letter requesting that Rushdie halt the paperback publication out of some sort of heroic concern for "the girl in Penguin Books who might get her hands blown off in the mail room."

But what's striking is that, in their supposed reconciliation, Le Carré does the classic "I regret the stand I took which I will now reiterate":

Should we be free to burn Korans, mock the passionately held religions of others? Maybe we should – but should we also be surprised when the believers we have offended respond in fury? I couldn't answer that question at the time and, with all good will, I still can't. But I am a little proud, in retrospect, that I spoke against the easy trend, reckoning with the wrath of outraged western intellectuals, and suffering it in all its righteous glory

Clearly he viewed -- and still views -- Rushdie's defenders as a form of "political correctness"; feels himself embattled against leftwing "western intellectuals"; and conflates the idiotic Koran burners with writing the Satanic Verses. I suppose he gets some credit for independent thinking for sticking to his defense of fundamentalist Islamic protestors when that's gone out of style on both the left and right, but still, his repeated failure to distinguish between unsurprising fury and violence -- and in the name of some bold stance against political correctness and intellectualism -- is clearly undiminished since 1997.

Given that Joseph Anton is in large part an extended complaint about how little support Rushdie got during the fatwa (particularly from the left), if the two of them have reconciled personally, it's mostly a testament to Rushdie's forbearance, given that Le Carré seems to have changed not a whit.
posted by chortly at 10:59 AM on November 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Interesting. I already was convinced that Rushdie was a total douche, and now I can also disdain another writer I loved.

Please don't tell me any more about the personal lives of artists.
posted by latkes at 2:37 PM on November 15, 2012


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