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Thread: Was Thomas Hardy a magic realist?

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Was Thomas Hardy a magic realist?

    Would you say Thomas Hardy was a magic realist? I read Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who wrote magic realism. I suppose magic realism is where impossible things happen but all the characters accept it as real life. I did not like Hundred Years of Solitude much myself. It had rather a lot of hard-to-ignore magic. I once read an Arthurian book by Bernard Cornwall, which I thought did magic quite well. Wizards and witches made spells, but the reader could not be sure they were effective, because a storm might have occurred by coincidence, or a prophesy might come true because it was open to interpretation.

    I have read four books by Thomas Hardy: Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Far From the Madding Crowd, The Woodlanders, and Return of the Native. I cannot remember anything magic or supernatural in FFTMC, but there were at least three things in Tess, one in Return of the Native, and I think there was a bit in the Woodlanders.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    No, he was not. Almost every work with magic, people accept that as something real. It is not what Magic Realism is.

    In Magic Realism, it is clear that the fantastic is fantastic. The occurence is often a representation of a paradoxal or contraditory condition. It is not just about "magic", but "challenges" of the notion of reality. Yet, it is part of life because the construction of reality is contraditiory, since Magic Realism was developed in latin america, where the cultural identidy is made up of contraditiory influences (european, african, native).

    Further, it is mostly a label to sell latin-american literature. Not exactly a genre or movement organized, but a very loose idea from several different cultures (cubans, argentina, colombia, etc).
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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I think the description of Hardy as a Victorian realist, as a distinction from, for example the hard boiled, desilusioned French realists, very fitting. What I remember is that there are many fatal coincidences in his novels.

    Which were the episodes that struck you as magic realism, kev?
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danik 2016 View Post
    I think the description of Hardy as a Victorian realist, as a distinction from, for example the hard boiled, desilusioned French realists, very fitting. What I remember is that there are many fatal coincidences in his novels.

    Which were the episodes that struck you as magic realism, kev?
    I wasn't sure what magical realism was, but spoilers:

    In Tess of the d'Urbervilles there was an incident when the butter would not churn because someone in the room was in love, Tess. When Angel and Tess visited Dairyman Crick and his wife after their wedding, a cockerel crowed in the afternoon, which was a bad omen. When Tess met Alec again, he made her swear an oath on a monument, which turned out to be for a man who had been executed for some evil-doing. Later on Tess hears the d'Urberville Coach, which is a portent of doom. Lastly, she is arrested at Stonehenge, which was a pagan place of worship, where human sacrifice was performed.

    In Return of the Native, a woman who hates Eustace Vye, because she suspected her of making her son sick, makes a mommet (like a voodoo doll) of her, which she destroys.

    In The Woodlanders, I cannot remember so well, but I think the old man dies when the elm near his house is blown over. Giles Winterborne seems to have a magic touch when planting apple trees.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I donŽt find it easy to define magical realism, but as Camilo writes, one can recognize the unusual elements in spite of the realistic setting. They are very explicit and they have a symbolic meaning. For example in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Garcia Marques there is a baby with a pig tail that is devoured by ants, a city of glass, a ghost whose wounds keep bleeding, etc.

    The episodes you refer to, seem more linked to popular legends and beliefs. The Hardy novels are full of them, which is part of their charm, I think. They contribute to this atmosphere of doom you encounter in some of them . For example, all the plot from the Tess novel is a result of the belief that her family is related to a noble family, the dŽUbervilles.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

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