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Thread: Magical Realism-What is it?

  1. #16
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    Can somebody write a paragraph that sounds like magical realism?

    Can somebody write a paragraph that would fit a magical realism prose?

  2. #17
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    Magical realism paragraph: Garcia Marquez discovered how to write after reading Kafka Metamorphosis translated by Borges.

    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    [COLOR="DarkRed"]

    I quite agree with this. Beyond the obvious examples of "fantasy" one might also include books like The Odyssey, Gilgamesh, The Bible, The Aeneid, the Comedia, Orlando Furioso, The Shanameh, etc... I would also point out that it was not merely Magic Realism that rejected the notion that the fantastic or magical or unreal were something to be reserved for children (that Alice in Wonderland or the Arabian Nights were children's books) but I would also note that the rejection of realism and the employment of the fantastic were also elements of Surrealism, Expressionism (Hesse, Kafka, Bulgakov...) etc...

    If there is/was any "tyranny of the novel" (as JBI suggested) it might lie here in this emphasis upon realism... including the predominance of the literal and the avoidance of the figurative.
    Yes, even Quixote appeal to realism, which is something quite prosaic. Since Magical Realism is not really a movement (Borges, who was already an anti-literary movement kind of guy, always found funny the idea that he made up something with people he didnt know) indentified this feeling of reality/fiction on his writtings coming from Kafka, Conrad, Stevenson.

    The denial of reality was already fashionable in the end of XIX century, even a very realistic Tchekhov was getting ride of the manacles of french realism, with some short of literary expressionism. (The entire painting reaction to the invention of photography is another good example). What those guys basically did was taking the Dickens (and other) fantastic urban narratives and place the fantastic that was usually "distant", "rural", "african" "south seas" "arabian", "exotic" and place on their cities. So we have Kafka doing it, Meyrink Golem doing it, Borges doing it, Joyce doing it, Breton, etc. This way they could be reliable, affect the public of novels or journals and yet, use their metaphors and linguistic game to play with literature.

  3. #18
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    That Magical Realism is not a movement is amply demonstrated by the fact that its seminal work, One Hundred Years of Solitude was published in 1967, eight years after another masterpiece in the same genre called The Tin Drum was published. Both of these novels are Magical Realism because although the stories are set the real worlds of Columbia and Kashubia they nonetheless contain weird magical elements without being fantastical often enough too make the novels seem less than realistic. A boy, whose a voice that can shatter any glass, who wills himself not to grow, and a tropical virginal Helen that ascends into heaven, make the stark realities of Facism in Central Europe and colonialism in Colombia fun without ever making them seem less than real.
    As for comparing One Hundred Years of Solitude with War and Peace, one must point out right away that Tolstoy has absolutely no magical occurences in War and Peace, and there is even a part of the novel wherein the young brother of Natasa, having run off to fight the French despite his very young age, indulges in some day dreaming that casts a magical veil over the landscape in his mind. (If I remember correctly Tolstoy has him thinking of how the scene before him leads down into treasure filled caverns populated with magical dwarves or something like that.) Tolstoy, being a Social Realist and not a Magical one, immediately has the reality of war end this boys' musing. In the next paragraph he is killed. There is no magic in War and Peace, nor is there alot of humor and One Hundred Years of Solitude has humor in abundance.
    Perhaps Magical Realism sprung up in literature in the latter part of the 20th century because, by then, the truths about mechanized war, colonialism and mass insanity had become just too bleak to write about without adding in a bit of magic.

  4. #19
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    If you want an example in the visual arts, I suggest you watch Andrzej Wajda's (a polish director) "Ashes and Diamonds". Reading the definitions here, this movie comes to mind and is a fine example of it. Furthermore, it is a damn good movie by its own right.

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    read gabriel Marquez's 'of love and other demons'. You'll soon understand. I have written about the book here: http://castleteachings.blogspot.com/
    http://castleteachings.blogspot.com/

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    This was an interesting thread that I don't think I ever read before. I was very impressed by The Tin Drum when I read it as a teenager. And it's only now that it has occurred to me that it could be classified as magical realist. Duh. I've enjoyed everything that I have read by Grass. What would the Gormenghast trilogy by Peake be? It's not the usual kind of fantasy. There are as it goes on more references to "real-world" settings.

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    I would be carefull with using Magic Realism in literature for authors outside Latin America every chance we get. There are obviously authors that are under Marquez, Cortazar, Borges, etc influence so they write with this style, but since the Latim-American Boom is from 60's Peake is not one of them. I didnt read those books, but the setting (in a fictional world, etc), seems to already rule out the trilogy. The usual settings for magic realism is the real, reckognizable world (see the distinction JBI gave, works here, since fantastic in Magic Realism is often deals with ideas. Also, much of magic realism was build on the multicultural diversity of latin america, since Alejo Carpentier first books.
    #foratemer

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    That is true but the technical terms tend to be created after the fact. John Hawkes did not sit down saying "I'm going to write a post-modern novel". Lewis Caroll did not sit down saying "This is going to be a surreal tour de force." Meta-fiction would have been an unknown concept to Lawrence Sterne. Yet when one examines certain works they can be seen clearly to fit into or be precursors for a later group of texts that belong in a certain school/ genre etc . Even if the authors were unknown to each other. While Magical Realism might be more naturally thought of as Latin American there are texts from outside that geographical area that will display many of the same features so it is handy to think of them under the same heading.

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    Carpentier actually used another term (realismo maravilhoso, marvelous realism) but Magic Realism kind worked and writers were lumped on it as a way to make them more easy to be spotted by the european public when the Boom happened, it was a label more used for comercial use. Borges (a precussor of many of the authors linked with magic realism, but a generation older) was a spearhead of Latim American Boom, so he became a "magic realism" reference despite not being part of the given generation or having similar concerns. Many of those similar features are rather Borges influence than Cortazar or Marquez or what would be magic realism. They put together even Jorge Amado, but Brazilians are not part of the Boom or magic realism "groups" at all.

    You can have of course similar writers, Rushide for example, because in the end India has the multicultural background too (with the clash of european influence) and all. But, sometimes I see people using this just for metaphysical urban fantasy, which has similarities, but europe and usa have a path on their own to reach there.
    #foratemer

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    Magical realism relates to literary fiction where some kind of magical event or miracle occurs which moves the story forward, or bring it to a close. It could be argued that some are an act of fate, god, divine justice or magic - quite often the author leaves it open for the reader to decide. Sometimes the "magic" happens at one key moment of the text - so it may occur in the chapter rather than the whole book.

    Surrealism is another level of absurdity (in it's literary meaning). Surrealism means dream like - and the dream or magic may not necessarily make sense or attempt to make sense at any point. Fantasy also tends to have more magic in it - the story usually involves a different world, or totally different rules.

    It's a question of degree. Life of Pi is an example of magical realism - the story follows its normal course until the boy and the tiger end up on the lifeboat. Then stuff starts to get a bit unreal - and then the unreality ends. Midnight's Children also features magical realism too, the "magic" is limited to a particular event - and unravels in the rest of the story as the magic and the real world collide.

    As the reader, we are left wondering whether it was a dream, the truth or a pack of lies.

    I'm not a big fan as it became a big cliché. In the late 80's/early90's it felt like everyone was writing magical realism and it started to feel overused. It was as if authors couldn't be bothered to think of decent conclusions to their novels, and so we were told that "magic did it".

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