Magical Realism World Literature
Magical Realism • Frame or surface of the work may be conventionally realistic, but contrasting elements invade the realism and change the whole basis of the art. • Supernatural • Myth • Dream • Fantasy
Magical Realism • Popularity in many parts of the world just after WWII • Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina, South America) • Gabriel García Márquez (Columbia, South America) • Isabel Allende (Chile, South America) • Günter Grass (Germany) • Italo Calvino (Italy) • Umberto Eco (Italy)
Magical Realism • Popularity in many parts of the world just after WWII • John Fowles • John Barth • Thomas Pynchon • Emma Tennant • Don DeLillo • Salman Rushdie • Leslie Silko
Márquez on Magical Realism • The question of what is real is at the heart of magical realism. • Implies that our notions of reality are too limited—that reality includes magic, miracles and monsters. • By making things happen in his fictional world of Macondo that do not happen in most novels (or in most readers' experiences either), Marquez asks us to question our assumptions about our world, and to examine our certainties about ourselves and our community. • Because the magical events in Macondo are presented matter-of-factly, our own sense of what is possible is amplified and enriched. Ordinary objects and events are enchanted.
Márquez on Magical Realism • Suggests that cultures and countries differ in what they call "real." • It is here that magical realism serves its most important function, because it facilitates the inclusion of alternative belief systems. • It is no coincidence that magical realism is flourishing in cultures such as Mexico and Colombia, where European and indigenous cultures have mixed, with the result that ancient myths are often just beneath the surface of modernity.
Magical Realism • Engages belief systems that defy rational, empirical (scientific) proof • Crucial difference between magical realism and science fiction/fantasy is that magical realism sets magical events in realistic contexts, thus requiring us to question what is "real," and how we can tell. • Undermines our certainties, and we eventually accept (often without authorial explanation) the fusion, or co-existence, of contradictory worlds—worlds that would be irreconcilable in other modes of fiction. • Is not "either/or" but "both at once"
Magical Realism • Events don't follow our expectations of “if/then”, like most novels. • “If this happens, then this will follow.” • Things often happen without an explanation, or for reasons that we don't expect.
Magical Realism • Also defies our expectation of fictional selves. • In realistic novels, characters are given individualized names, personalities, and family histories. • We identify with them because their specific humanity engages us, and their individuality resembles our own.
Magical Realism • Objects and places in magical realist novels behave in ways that they could not in a realistic fiction. • Imagine you are sitting in an armchair, reading a novel about a man sitting in an armchair, about to be stabbed to death from behind, reading a novel about a man sitting in an armchair who is about to be stabbed to death from behind and is reading a novel. • Do you turn and look behind you?
Sources • Zamora, Lois Parkinson. “Magical Realism in a Nutshell.” Oprah’s Book Club. <http://www.oprah.com/obc_classic/featbook/oyos/magic/ oyos_magic_nutshell.jhtml>. • Harmon & Holman. A Handbook to Literature. 10th ed. • Images taken from Google Images