The Enchantress of Florence
Cover of the first edition
|April 11, 2008|
|Media type||Print (hardback)|
|Pages||352 pp. (first edition, hardback)|
|ISBN||0-375-50433-8 (first edition, hardback)|
|Preceded by||Shalimar the Clown|
|Followed by||Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights|
The central theme of The Enchantress of Florence is the visit of a European to the Mughal emperor Akbar's court and his claim that he is a long lost relative of Akbar, born of an exiled Indian princess and an Italian from Florence. The story moves between continents, the court of Akbar to Renaissance Florence mixing history, fantasy and fable.
The tale of adventure begins in Fatehpur Sikri, the capital of Mughal emperor Akbar the Great, when a stranger arrives, having stowed away on a pirate ship captained by the Scottish Lord Hauksbank, and sets the Mughal court talking and looking back into its past.
The stranger begins to tell Akbar the tale, going back to the boyhood of three friends in Florence, Il Machia, Ago Vespucci and Nino Argalia, the last of whom became an adventurer in the East.
The tale returns to the mobs and clamour of Florence in the hands of the Medici dynasty.
An eight-page bibliography follows the end of the story.
The book relates a succession of interweaving stories by a variety of storytellers, travellers and adventurers and of course touches on the histories and cultures of the various settings including the Mughal and Ottoman Empires, the earlier Mongols, and Renaissance Florence. There is a strong theme of sex and eroticism, much of it surrounding the Enchantress of the book's title, who was inspired by the Renaissance poem Orlando Furioso. There is also a recurring discussion of humanism and debate as opposed to authoritarianism, and Machiavelli is a character in the book. Like Rushdie's previous works, the book can be considered a work of magic realism.
- Qara Köz, Lady Black Eyes, whom Rushdie cites as having been inspired by the (fictional) character Angelica in the epic poem Orlando innamorato.
- Hauksbank – fictional character may be based on Sir John Hawkwood, an English mercenary or condottiero in 14th century Italy.
- Akbar the Great – Mughal emperor
- Maham Anaga – wet nurse of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. She was the de facto regent of the Mughal state after the exclusion of Bairam Khan in 1560 to Akbar's assumption of full power in 1562, shortly before her death.
- Adham Khan, Akbar's foster brother
- Babar – founder of the Mughal Empire, brother of Angelica
- Qutlugh Nigar Khanum – Babar's mother
- Khanzada Begum – Babar's sister
- Humayun – second Mughal Emperor, father of Akbar
- Gulbadan – daughter of Babar, sister of Humayun, aunt of Akbar
- Prince Khusraw – son of Prince Salim (Jahangir), grandson of Akbar
- Abu'l-Fazl – Akbar's chief advisor and author of Akbarnama, one of the Navaratnas, the nine gems in Akbar's court. He was originally Persian.
- Birbal – Grand Vizier (Wazīr-e Azam) of the Mughal court in the administration of the Mughal emperor Akbar, also one of the nine gems
- Miyan Tansen – Legendary musician, well known for his voice and music
- Ali-Shir Nava'i – poet of Herat, author of "My Dark Eyed One"
- Mir Sayyid Ali – first master of Akbar's royal art studio
- Sultan Mehmed II – Sultan of the Ottoman Empire for a short time from 1444 to 1446, and later from 1451 to 1481. He conquered Constantinople, bringing an end to the medieval Byzantine Empire.
- Bayezid II – Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1481 to 1512
- Selim I "the Grim" – son of Bayezid II and Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1512 to 1520
- Janissaries – infantry units that formed the Ottoman sultan's household troops and bodyguards
- Amerigo Vespucci – explorer and cartographer after whom the Americas are named
- Niccolò Machiavelli – Italian diplomat, political philosopher, musician, poet and playwright
- Andrea Doria – Genoese admiral
- Giuliano de' Medici – reigned in Florence from 1512 to 1516
- Lorenzo de' Medici – Florentine ruler of Florence, died from syphilis, Niccolò Machiavelli dedicated "The Prince" to Lorenzo
- Savonarola – Italian Dominican priest and leader of Florence from 1494 until his execution in 1498
- Shaybani Khan (Wormwood) - Uzbek leader and descendant of Genghis Khan
- Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia (1448; 1456–1462; 1476); called "Vlad the Impaler"
- "Freshnews article".
- "Imagining the self and the world". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 13 April 2008.
- David Gates, "A World of Marvels", Sunday Book Review, The New York Times, June 8, 2008. Accessed 3 December 2017.
- "A Woman's Struggle: Rushdie's 'Enchantress'", All Things Considered, NPR, June 9, 2008. Accessed 3 December 2017.
- "Salman Rushdie Spins a Yarn – a Barnes and Noble interview with the author".
- Transcript of interview of Salman Rushdie with Ramona Koval on The Book Show, ABC Radio National 21 April 2007.
- Salman Rushdie in conversation with Jeffrey Eugenides about The Enchantress of Florence at LIVE from the New York Public Library, 27 June 2008.