The Satanic Verses

Sympathy for the Devil: The Narrator's Argument in The Satanic Verses

"Please allow me to introduce myself, / I'm a man of wealth and taste, / I've been around for a long, long year / Stolen many man's soul and faith / ... / Pleased to meet you / Hope you guess my name" sings the gravelly voice of Mick Jagger at the beginning of The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil." After admitting responsibility for the temptation and death of Christ, the murder of Czar Nicholas II and his family, and the German Blitzkrieg of World War II, the narrator argues that all humans contain a mixture of good and evil, and that even he, the narrator, should receive some sympathy. He sings, "Just as every cop is a criminal / And all the sinners, Saints / As heads is tails, / Just call me Lucifer..."

Unlike Jagger's Lucifer, the narrator of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses never explicitly reveals his identity. Most of the novel is narrated in a multiple third-person style, in which the narrator follows various different characters, and has access to all of their thoughts and everything they perceive. However, the narrator periodically inserts himself into the story, in a series of very short passages that are written in the first person. In these passages,...

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