Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Magic Realism - Lost Mission

I mentioned that I didn't really know what magic realism is when I first read Lost Mission by Athol Dickson. A reader's comment sent me searching the internet for a definition. Here is what I found

Latin-American literary phenomenon characterized by the matter-of-fact incorporation of fantastic or mythical elements into otherwise realistic fiction. The term was first applied to literature in the 1940s by the Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier (1904 – 1980), who recognized the tendency of his region's contemporary storytellers as well as contemporary novelists to illuminate the mundane by means of the fabulous. Prominent practitioners include Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Amado, Jorge Luis Borges, Miguel Angel Asturias, Julio Cortazar, and Isabel Allende (born 1942). The term has been applied to literature and art outside of Latin America as well. Britannica Concise Encyclopedia

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.
This sight has examples and more information that is helpful.So there you have it.

I discovered the book I have coming out next October, Two Tickets to a Christmas Ball, is Magical Realism.


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Really fascinating, Donita. I'd never researched where the term came from or precisely how it was being used. I had an inkling from some of the publications I've read that discussed fantasy genres but this is much more comprehensive. Thanks!


Phyllis Wheeler said...

I sure did think Athol's publisher made "magical realism" up. Thank you for setting me straight. Some food for thought!

LittleWomen21 said...

Very helpful - I didn't realize it was Latin-American in roots. I like the whole idea of challenging polar opposites. Will have to check out some of these books.

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