Magic realism (or magical realism) is a literary genre in which magical elements appear in an otherwise realistic setting. As used today the term is broadly descriptive rather than critically rigorous. The term was initially used by German art critic Franz Roh to describe painting which demonstrated an altered reality, but was later used by Venezuelan Arturo Uslar-Pietri to describe the work of certain Latin American writers. The Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier (a friend of Uslar-Pietri) used the term "lo real maravilloso" (roughly "marvelous reality") in the prologue to his novel The Kingdom of this World (1949). Carpentier's conception was of a kind of heightened reality in which elements of the miraculous could appear without seeming forced and unnatural. Carpentier's work was a key influence on the writers of the Latin American "boom" that emerged in the 1960s.
A literary mode rather than a distinguishable genre, magical realism aims to seize the paradox of the union of opposites. For instance, it challenges polar opposites like life and death and the pre-colonial past versus the post-industrial present. Magical realism is characterized by two conflicting perspectives, one based on a rational view of reality and the other on the acceptance of the supernatural as prosaic reality. Magical realism differs from pure fantasy primarily because it is set in a normal, modern world with authentic descriptions of humans and society. According to Angel Flores, magical realism involves the fusion of the real and the fantastic, or as he claims, "an amalgamation of realism and fantasy". The presence of the supernatural in magical realism is often connected to the primeval or "magical’ Indian mentality, which exists in conjunction with European rationality. According to Ray Verzasconi, as well as other critics, magical realism is "an expression of the New World reality which at once combines the rational elements of the European super-civilization, and the irrational elements of a primitive America." Gonzalez Echchevarria believes that magical realism offers a world view that is not based on natural or physical laws nor objective reality. However, the fictional world is not separated from reality either. [pic]
Characteristics of Magical Realism
The plots of magical realist works involve issues of borders, mixing, and change. Authors establish these plots to reveal a crucial purpose of magical realism: a more deep and true reality than conventional realist techniques would illustrate. Irony Regarding Author’s Perspective—The writer must have ironic distance from the magical world view for the realism not to be compromised. Authorial Reticence—Authorial reticence refers to the lack of clear opinions about the accuracy of events and the credibility of the world views expressed by the characters in the text. This technique promotes acceptance in magical realism. In magical realism, the simple act of explaining the supernatural would eradicate its position of equality regarding a person’s conventional view of reality. The Supernatural and Natural—In magical realism, the supernatural is not displayed as questionable. While the reader realizes that the rational and irrational are opposite and conflicting polarities, they are not disconcerted because the supernatural is integrated within the norms of perception of the narrator and characters in the fictional world. [pic]
The reality of revolution, and continual political upheaval in certain parts of the world, also relates to magical realism. Specifically, South America is characterized by the endless struggle for a political ideal. [pic]
Como Agua Para Chocolate is a wonderful example of how magical realism is used to portray political as well as cultural issues that the author wanted to focus the reader on. Laura Esquivel effectively combines reality and the supernatural to distance Tita...
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