One month ago, I had never heard of Magical Realism. Since reading the four essays by Franz Roh, Angel Flores, Luis Leal and Amaryll Chanaday and various internet articles, I have a much better understanding of Magical Realism – what it is, how it applies to literature, how it applies to art, and its theory, history, and style.
Magical Realism is a fusion of fantasy and reality. According to Flores, it is a “transformation of common and everyday into the awesome and unreal” (114). This is not even and equal mix. Magical Realism is reality-based with just one fantastic overstatement. This overstatement is described by Pietri as “a kind of extreme state,” and that it “favors the unexpected richness of reality” (qtd. in Leal 121). This one fantastic element is always accepted as reality by the characters in the story. It also has hidden meanings in a deeper realm. “The mystery does not descend to the present world but rather hides and palpitates behind it” (Roh 16). Magical Realism is subject to a certain control and is mainly used to show a different way of
viewing the world. In this form of expression, the plots are always logically conceived. Magical Realism also expresses emotions without evoking them. In Magical Realism, “key events have no logical or psychological explanation” and “the author does not need to justify the mystery of events” (Leal 123). as a science fiction or fantastic author would. Also, unlike in sci-fi and fantasy stories, the author clings to reality. Flores describes this characteristic by saying the authors “cling to reality as if to prevent ‘literature’ from getting in their way, as if to prevent their myth from flying off, as i…
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…t be literature that is reality based but contains at least one fantastic element that is unexplained but accepted. Now that I understand what it is, I am beginning to find more examples of it all around me. I am looking forward to reading examples of this unusual and interesting genre.
Flores, Angel. “Magical Realism in Spanish American Fiction.” Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Ed. Lois Parkison Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham; N.C.: Duke UP,1995:109-118.
Leal, Luis. “Magical Realism in Spanish American Literature.” Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Ed. Lois Parkison Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham; N.C.: Duke UP,1995:119-124.
Roh, Franz. “Magic Realism: Post-Expressionism.” Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Ed. Lois Parkison Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham; N.C.: Duke UP,1995:15-31.
Understanding Magical Realism Literature Essays Literary Criticism
Understanding Magical Realism Four Works Cited Perhaps Magical Realism may best be described as literature and art combined. It has a vast amount of characteristics that most, if not all, Magical realist fiction shares. Magical Realism has a lot of content to be studied in order to fully understand it. The term magical realism was first introduced by Franz Roh in 1925. He was a German art critic who started the idea of magical realism when he saw a new direction in painting. He used the term to characterize his paintings. Franz Roh states, “We look on it with new eyes”(17). To me, this statement is saying that we look on the world with a different approach. There is magical realism in everything we do. Literature and art are two main topics magical realism occurs in often. If studied thoroughly, we realize that there is magical realism in our lives everyday. Many articles have the main definition of magical realism stated in them. These articles are by Franz Roh, Angel Flores, Luis Leal, Amaryll Chanady, and Scott Simpkins. Most of the information in these articles is repetition from the articles however, they still include important information and feedback about each authors’ views on the term. One of my favorite texts that we read was the article by Luis Leal. Leal which states, that magical realism is to express emotions, not to evoke them(121). Leal disagrees with many authors. Leal says that he does not believe magical realism was started by Borges in 1935(120). There are many added characteristics of magical realism. Some of these characteristics are to express emotions, do not use dream motifs, innocence has no logical or physiological explanation, and feelings are unexplainable. Magical Realism differs from fantasy because it is set in a normal world with descriptions of humans and society. Luis Leal states, “Strange how people are under the impression that making a bed is exactly the same as making bed, that to shake hands is always the same as shaking hands, that opening a can of sardines is to open the same can of sardines”(121). Everything is an exception. In Franz Roh’s discusses many characteristics of magical realism in paintings.. “Both kinds of miniaturist paintings, the one that reconciles is to the world and the one that tries to horrify us”(qtd.in Roh 29). The way I view the world through art is a big characteristic to magical realism myself. To me you have to look at the world at certain angels to get the real definition of magical realism. Reality is also viewed with a touch of non-reality. Reality and fantasy are combined not through weaknesses but through strengths. Issues in Flores’ article on writing are literary criticism. Stylistic trends, naturalistic,Characters accept non-reality as being completely normal. Each story in magical realism has its own personality. The purpose of magical realism is to let the world know that there are different views of art and literature. Not everyone has the same view, so the world needs to combine all views and understand each others’ opinion. ” Cling to reality as if to prevent literature from getting in the way, as if to prevent myth from flying off, as in fairy tales to supernatural realms”(qtd. in Leal 120).It never appeared to me that practitioners pay more attention to reality and not so much on literature. Leal defines magical realism as an “attitude toward reality” that contains “the discovery of mysterious relations between man and his circumstances”(122). The text by Amaryll Chanady has a quote that says,”Everyone’s reason is everyone’s things”(134). This brought a lot of confusion upon myself however I did learn a lot from this text. It discussed many good points about the definition of magical realism. Some of these were,”fantasy, the supreme faculty” and “constant inspiration” of the new race to the “rule, norm and tyranny” of the age of reason (qtd. in Chanady 135). Leal states that magical realism, which he calls an “attitude,” problematizes What Niklas Luhmann calls the “functionally differentiated society”(132). Critics have many disagreements on the definition of magical realism, and I feel that some of the articles that were read were just a constant battle between who was right and who was wrong. Many critics’ arguments were about whether or not magical realism is in art and literature. This course has helped me out tremendously already. It has a lot of basic information everyone needs to know about magical realism and the reason we have magical realism. When first seeing the word magical realism, my thoughts were that it would not interest me. After learning the information, the theory, and the history on it, it has helped me out tremendously. Magical realism is used in painting, writing, and in everyday life. We just don’t take enough time to concentrate on what we do to realize that there is magical realism around us. It has many characteristics that apply to most works of magical realism. The history of magical realism isn’t that far back but it is something that comes natural to us. People have just never realized it. Works Cited Chanady, Amaryll. “The Territorialization of the Imaginary in Latin America: Self-Affirmation and Resistance to Metropolitian Paradigms.” Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Ed. Wendy Faris and Zamora. Durham and London: Duke University, 1995.125-144. Flores, Angel. “Magical Realism in Spanish American Fiction.” Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Ed. Wendy Faris and Zamora. Durham and London: Duke University, 1995.108-177. Roh Franz. “Magical Realism: Post Expressionism.” Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Ed. Wendy Faris and Zamora. Durham and London: Duke University, 1995.15-31. Simpkins, Scott. “Sources of Magic Realism/Supplements to Realism in Contemporary Latin American Literature.” Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Ed. Wendy Faris and Zamora. Durham and London: Duke University, 1995.145-159.