Salman Rushdie’s “Knife” and Pirsig’s “Quality”

Rushdie’s been touring the media shows trailing his latest book “Knife” recounting the story of and recovery from the disfiguring stabbing attempt on his life in New York back in August 2022.

I would at some point get round to reading it, when my writing priorities are behind me, I’ve read and reviewed most of his works, including the previous Fatwa biography “Joseph Anton”. He’s always been a wonderful source of inspiration to me. Latest reading of Victory City here in early 2023 and hundreds of previous references here. I noted when the attack happened it was reported to have been at the Chautauqua Institution where he was lecturing. Chautauqua is a word I know – for public educational touring lectures – originally from reading Robert Pirsig, the original inspirational writer on my own philosophical research and writing quest.

Well, I happened upon the BBC “Book of the Week” abridged reading, the 3rd of 5 parts late last night and immediately re-listened and listened to all 5 parts. Victory City was the book he’d just finished but not yet published when the awful event happened. However, I was stirred into life realising he was using references to Pirsig and his Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to talk about Chautauqua, Gumption and – yes – Quality, the root of Pirsig’s metaphysics.

We at the Robert Pirsig Association (RPA) have our first on-line Chautauqua this Sunday.


[Post Note – more on the Pirsig / Rushdie connections in footnote here.]


2 thoughts on “Salman Rushdie’s “Knife” and Pirsig’s “Quality””

  1. Nudged by your comment, I’ve just finished reading ‘Knife’. It is in many ways a reassertion of the thought that the pen is, indeed, mightier than the sword. Or knife. And it is the perfect revenge. The revenge of wit on dogma. The revenge of the truly literate over the merely literal-minded. This is not a survivor’s tale, it is a short chapter in a life of creativity that merely received an unwelcome interruption. If it is the victors who write history, then Rushdie is victorious. No-one will ever be engaged by the story of the failed assassin, who is here, and justly, deprived of his name. He is interrogated in imagination only and found wanting. This is a just revenge. Rushdie’s intelligence and charm are here, literally, annihilating.

  2. Nice review Mark.
    As you might have noticed, I’ve not actually read it yet – just going on the radio abridgement – but I will.
    (I’m resisting reading new stuff for a while, just too many existing projects, to take any more on board.)

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