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Magic realism

Related: fantastic fiction - magic - magic in fiction - postmodern literature - South America - realism in literature


Magic realism (or magical realism) is a literary genre in which magical elements appear in an otherwise realist setting. It is most often associated with the Latin American literary boom of the twentieth century, marked by the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez in 1967, which is considered the seminal magical realist text. Magical realism has been viewed at different times as a specific historical-geographical literary movement and as a style that can be located in a large variety of novels, poetry, painting, and even film. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_realism [Mar 2005]

History of the term

The term magic realism was first used by the German art critic Franz Roh to refer to a painterly style also known as Neue Sachlichkeit. It was later used to describe the unusual realism by American painters such as Ivan Albright, Paul Cadmus, George Tooker and other artists during the 1940s and 1950s. It should be noted though that unlike the term's use in literature, in art it is describing paintings that do not include anything fantastic or magical, but are rather extremely realistic and often times mundane.

The term was first revived and applied to the realm of fiction as a combination of the fantastic and the realistic in the 1960s by a Venezuelan essayist and critic Arturo Uslar-Pietri, who applied it to a very specific South American genre, influenced by the blend of realism and fantasy in Mário de Andrade's influential 1928 novel Macunaíma. However, the term itself came in vogue only after Nobel prize winner Miguel Ángel Asturias used the expression to define the style of his novels. The term gained popularity with the rise of such authors as Mikhail Bulgakov, Ernst Jünger and Salman Rushdie and many Latin American writers, most notably Jorge Luis Borges, Isabel Allende, Juan Rulfo, Dias Gomes and Gabriel García Márquez, who confessed, "My most important problem was destroying the lines of demarcation that separates what seems real from what seems fantastic." Mexican author Laura Esquivel also wrote in this vein when she penned Like Water for Chocolate. The book, which sold three million copies worldwide, was later made into a film. Upon its release in the United States, it became the highest grossing foreign film in U.S. history. (It has since been surpassed by the current record-holder Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.) The most widely read of the South American magical realism narratives is García Márquez's novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. The style was actually originated by Nokolai Gogol in his short story 'The Nose'

Today, magical realism is perhaps too broadly used, to characterize all realistic fictions with an eerie, otherworldly component, such as the tales of Edgar Allan Poe, or realistic fictions where magic is simply an overt theme in the narrative, such as The Stepford Wives or the Harry Potter books. The latter pair of examples are probably best categorized as works of fantasy, since they utilize magic and other supernatural concepts and ideas as primary elements of plot, theme, or setting. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_realism [Aug 2006]

Magical realism and the fantastic (1985) - Amaryll Beatrice Chanady

Magical realism and the fantastic: Resolved versus unresolved antinomy (1985) - Amaryll Beatrice Chanady [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) - Gabriel García Márquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) - Gabriel García Márquez [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

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