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Julio Cortazar’s Axolotl Misidentified as Magical Realism

Julio Cortazar’s Axolotl Misidentified as Magical Realism

Some people consider a book to be magical realism based on the author or the part of the world it was written in. Just because an author has written a book that is magical realism does not mean that all of the books that author writes will be magical realism. Though most magical realism stories are written by Latin American authors, a story is not necessarily magical realism if the author came from that region. Julio Cortazar is an Argentine writer who has published many short stories and novels. In 1956, he wrote a short story called “Axolotl”. A careful reading of this work will reveal that it is not an example of magical realism.

Like magical realism, this story has magical elements. One of the axolotls, which “are the larval stage…of a species of salamander”, and the main character are the same being (11). The axolotls think like a human and also communicate telepathically with one another. The axolotls’ eyes spoke a message to the boy, “their blind gaze, the diminutive gold disk without expression and nonetheless terribly shining, went through me like a message: ‘Save us, save us'” (13).

Realistic elements also exist in “Axolotl”. The main character visits “the aquarium at the Jardin des Plantes”, which is a zoo, to see the axolotls (11). The boy also talks about seeing lions and panthers. The same guard took the boy’s ticket every day that he went to the aquarium.

Throughout the story, the reader comes across several things that he or she will question. In the beginning of the story, a young boy goes to the aquarium to see the axolotls. He soon becomes obsessed with them and goes everyday to watch them. At the

end when the main chara…

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…rms of literature, too. The hesitation in this story is a characteristic of fantastic literature, and the language is a characteristic of the sublime. This story may also be categorized as psychic or grotesque realism. Whether or not this is a work of magical realism or another form of literature, the final conclusion is up to the reader.

Works Cited

Arensberg, Mary. The American Sublime. Ed. Mary Arensberg, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1986.

Cortazar, Julio. “Axolotl”. A Hammock Beneath the Mangoes. Ed. Thomas Colchie, N.Y.: Plume Printing, 1991. 11-15.

Delbaere-Garant, Jeannie. “Variations on Magical Realism”. Magical Realism Theory, History, Community. Ed. Lois Parkison Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham” Duke U.P., 1995. 249-263.

Rabkin, Eve S. The Fantastic in Literature. Princeton. N.J.: Princeton U.P., 1976. 8-19.

Seventh Heaven Seventh Heaven Essays

Seventh Heaven Seventh Heaven by Alice Hoffman was published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 1991. Many characteristics of magical realism were expressed in an excerpt from this novel. From reading this, I have learnt that magic appears to me as being real. My comprehending of this novel was more because or realism. Alice Hoffman’s attitude in this book seemed to be that she set it as an example of magical realism and she made the readers curious about what was going to happen next. Hoffman made this book enjoyable so that readers would want to read this book. She had a good attitude toward what she was writing about and how the book was presented. The book consisted of many magical elements. Some of the magical elements in this book were that the crow in Mrs. Olivera’s chimney might find a pack of matches, rub them the wrong way, and poof up goes the house in flames (17). I feel that this is something that would never happen. I think it is impossible for a crow to light a match and catch a house on fire. Another magical element was the fact that no one in the neighborhood could tell the houses apart when they were first built and carve out of the potato farms. (10). I don’t think that many people would get confused about what house was theirs and what block that it was on. Everyone should know what is theirs. Realistic elements in this book stood out better than the magical elements because I felt that most of the book seemed like everyday life. Realistic elements were that the guys in the neighborhood wanted to get together and renovate Mrs. Olivera’s house and to sell it to someone instead of it setting there looking run down (18-19). I think that guys in the community would fix a house to try to help the neighborhood look nice and to keep people from getting hurt. The purpose of the magical elements is to keep the reader tuned into the book. The author tries her best to make the reader experience textualization. She does this by making the book have plenty of realistic elements and throwing in magical element to make the experience different. Magical elements stood out to me the most were when the women in the neighborhood made a big deal about Nora being divorced and how Donna Durgin had never met a divorced person in her entire life (82). The woman acted as if Nora wasn’t normal because of her being divorced. The magical elements are treated as if they were realistic. The author made them seem to be things that would happen everyday. The elements are expressed clearly but have to be studied thoroughly to identify the differences. The characters’ reactions to the magical elements made them seem realistic. The author’s attitude towards the book was to make the reader want to keep reading this book. The relationship between the real and unreal elements was very clear. I felt that overall this book was non-problematic. The unreal elements had both characteristics and stood out without a lot of complications. At the beginning of the book when Hoffman talked about the houses looking the same and everyone was confused concerning which house was theirs, I looked at this as an unreal element. However, when she mentioned some of the things the people did, I looked at it differently because it seemed to be everyday life. This book had many elements of unreal and real elements combined. I really enjoyed the book because it was broken down this way. This excerpt made me sit down and concentrate on the differences between magical and realism. In my personal opinion, I feel that we live in a world full of dreams and we consider everything magical as being real. To us, magical is something that we think we can do very easily. What we don’t realize is that magical elements are things that we dream about and that we have fantasies about. Realism to us seems boring. We disappoint ourselves a lot because we look for things to happen and they never do because they don’t exist. Alice Hoffman made this book a clearer understanding of magical realism. Not only did she clear up the views of magical realism but she made me understand better the meaning of fiction. Fiction is a mixture of the real and unreal. From reading this book, I have learnt that magical elements don’t necessarily stick out clearly from the real element, but if readers comprehend them they will later tell what one has read was fiction. I really enjoyed this book. Many characteristics of magical realism were expressed in this excerpt. I would recommend this book to readers of all ages. The elements in this book were very easy to comprehend. I really enjoyed this book. This book also makes readers realize how important fiction novels are and how much they relate the term magical realism I feel that this had many issues on the different topics and the time Hoffman put into this book improved tremendously. At first, I felt that this book was going to be a book that I would not enjoy, but after reading a few chapters I came to realize that this is just what I needed to clear up the definition of magical realism. From this, I have learnt not only the purpose of magical realism but how to look at things in an imaginative way. I now take more time in what I do and pay close attention to the elements and characteristics involved in what I do. Works Cited Hoffman, Alice. Seventh Heaven. NY.: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995.

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