Sarah Orne Jewett’s “The Foreigner,” Kate Chopin’s “An Egyptian Cigarette” and Willa Cather’s “The Enchanted Bluff” are all stories that contain Magic Realism Magic Realism is typically defined as a construct of many writers from Third World countries. This style of writing realistic fiction wherein the extraordinary occurs and is not thought of as unusual has been described as a way of breaking away from the constraints of linear time and hierarchical thinking: in other words, as a way of escaping the patriarchal modes of writing that have dominated these often post-colonial countries. The definition of this form of fiction writing can be expanded to include women as representatives of repressed cultures. As writers, these women were often trivialized as “scribblers” during a time women could not even vote, and they could be considered “colonized” by their culture. Therefore, Sarah Orne Jewett’s “The Foreigner,” Kate Chopin’s “An Egyptian Cigarette” and Willa Cather’s “The Enchanted Bluff” are all stories that can and should be discussed in the context of Magic Realism– do they or do they not fit within this style of re-writing reality?
Each of these writers depicts “magic” differently. Their degree of acceptance for these unorthodox events in realistic fiction reflects their willingness to “bend the rules” of traditional fiction. Sarah Orne Jewett’s “The Foreigner” is a story which features some very interesting magic elements that place her firmly “outside” of straightforward fiction with this story. Her characters, Mrs. Todd and Mrs. Tolland, are incredible images of witchiness in the midst of Protestant propriety, and in this short story …
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… her story describes a supernatural place, cannot be defined as “Magic Realist.” She, along with her characters, is too much grounded in “this world.”
These three women authors approach magic situations in a realistic setting in entirely different manner, and this manner reflects the difficulties that these women felt with their own communities. Jewett and Chopin seem much more ready to accept difference, whereas Cather struggles with her “art.” Writers of Magic Realism are experimenting with new elements, rejecting the “laws” of realistic fiction because of the repressive nature of those rules and rule-givers. Jewett, Chopin and Cather all depict a brush with some sort of “magic” and the success of their characters’ acceptance of that experience reflects each author’s struggle with the patriarchal writing community, and its rules of realistic fiction
Greek Influence in Finnegans Wake
Finnegans Wake exhumes mythologies and theologies of cultures encompassing the whole of human experience. Not the least researched are references and correspondences to classical mythology, but the family of gods in the Greek creation myth offers a unique parallel to Joyce’s ever-expansive Wakean family. In doing so, I will use as a guide a scholar of both classical mythology and the institution of family, Giambattista Vico.
In the Greek creation myth (and also in Genesis), an unnammable god divided timeless and formless Chaos–“joepeter’s gaseytotum” (FW, 426.21; ‘Jupiter’s gaseous universe,’ L totum)– into heaven and earth, the male Uranus and female Gaea. Uranus “the Rainmaker” (FW, 87.06) impregnates Gaea’s clefts and rivervalleys with rainwater, spawning the powerful Titans, or the Giants, which are etymologically “sons of Earth.” (NS, 13) Uranus’s strongest son, Cronus (the Roman Saturn), murders his father and castrates him with an enormous sickle–“an exitous erseroyal Deo Jupto.” (FW, 353.18; ‘exit of the once royal god, Jove’). This occurs in the “golden age” of Greece, or the divine age in the Viconian cycle (NS, 69). Gold is also the color Clive Hart assigns to this age. (Structure and Motif, 19)
The Wakean family’s genesis also begins with the usurpation of power by a stronger, younger heir. Tim Finnegan, the god-like giant is replaced by Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, or HCE, representing all heroes and mock-heroes. The scope of HCE’s character is so immense that it includes Tim Finnegan and all the manifestations of him that recirculate in the living world–“the father of fornicationists.” (FW, 4.12) Similarily, in the male line of Greek gods, the heir must commit “regicide” (FW, 162.01) in order to make room…
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…amily cycle continues as the Viconian historical cycles turn, “Gyre O, gyre O, gyrotundo!” (FW, 295.23) Prometheus’s son, Deucalion, and Epimetheus’ daughter, Pyrrha, become the new Adam and Eve, HCE and ALP. In the new cycle, man is created again by the domesticism of marriage where, “in the names of Deucalion and Pyrrha,” (179.09) stones (bestial man, Jute) are throne over their shoulders to become civilized men (Mutt). (NS, 79)
FW Joyce, James. Finnegans Wake. Viking Press : New York, 1976.
AP Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Viking Press : New York, 1968.
NS Vico, Giambattista. The New Science of Giambattista Vico. 3rd ed. (1744). trans. by Bergin, T. G. and Fisch, M. H. Cornell University Press : London, 1991.
Hart, Clive. Structure and Motif in Finnegans Wake. Northwestern University Press, 1971.