The New Empire within Britain


This study guide will help you analyze Salman Rushdie’s essay “The New Empire within Britain”. In addition to help for your analysis, you can find a summary of the text and ideas of putting it into perspective.

Presentation of the text

Title: The New Empire within Britain (1982)

Sender: Salman Rushdie

Genre: Essay

Salman Rushdie (b. 1947) is a British novelist and essayist. His most important works include Midnight Children (1988) and The Moor's Last Sigh (1995). His novels are part of the magical realism genre and they depict Indian culture. His most popular but also controversial work is The Satanic Verses (1988) for which he was criticized and even received death threats from extreme elements in the Muslim community. 


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The text starts with Rushdie’s claim that “Britain isn’t South Africa. (...) Nor is it Nazi Germany” (ll.1-2) He repeats this phrase later in the text and also explains it: “Let me repeat what I said in the beginning: Britain isn’t Nazi Germany,” (ll.112-113) In the beginning he says that people use this argument to highlight the fact that Britain’s situation might not be that bad. However, when Rushdie repeats it, he argues that Nazi Germany is different because “heroic attempts were made by the people to purify German thought and the German language of the pollution of Nazism.” (ll.114-116). He compares it to Britain’s situation because he says that imperialism is still present in British thought.

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The New Empire within Britain

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