Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 5

Magical Realism A literary mode rather than a distinguishable genre, magical realism is characterized by two conflicting perspectives, one

based on a so-called 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. It aims to seize the paradox of the union of opposites; for instance, it challenges binary oppositions like life and death and the pre-colonial past versus the post-industrial present. 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 native mentality, which exists in opposition to 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. Background The term magical realism was first introduced by Franz Roh, a German art critic, who considered magical realism an art category. To him, it was a way of representing and responding to reality and pictorially depicting the enigmas of reality. In Latin America in the 1940s, magical realism was a way to express the realistic American mentality and create an autonomous style of literature. Yet, magical realism is not confined to Latin American literature alone, for many Latin American writers have influenced writers around the world, such as Indian writer Salman Rushdie and Nigerian poet and novelist Ben Okri. Characteristics of Magical Realism

Ben Okri, The Famished Road, 1991

Hybridity: Magical realists incorporate many techniques that have been linked to postcolonialism, with hybridity being a primary feature. Specifically, magical realism is illustrated in the inharmonious arenas of such opposites as urban and rural and Western and indigenous. 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 Authors Perspective: The writer must have ironic distance from the magical world view for the realism not to be compromised. Simultaneously, the writer must strongly respect the magic, or else the magic dissolves into simple folk belief or complete fantasy, split from the real instead of synchronized with it. The term magic relates to the fact that the point of view that the text depicts explicitly is not adopted according to the implied world view of the author. As Echevarria notes, the act of distancing oneself from the beliefs held by a certain social group makes it impossible to be thought of as a representative of that society. 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 persons conventional view of reality. Because it would then be less valid, the supernatural world would be discarded as false testimony. 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. Themes The idea of terror overwhelms the possibility of rejuvenation in magical realism. Several prominent authoritarian figures, such as soldiers, police, and sadists all have the power to torture and kill. Time is another conspicuous theme, which is frequently displayed as cyclical instead of linear. What happens once is destined to happen again. Characters rarely, if ever, realize the promise of a better life. As a result, irony and paradox stay rooted in recurring social and political aspirations. Another particularly complex theme in magical realism is the carnivalesque. The carnivalesque is carnivals reflection in literature. The concept of carnival celebrates the body, the senses, and the relations between humans. Carnival refers to cultural manifestations that take place in different related forms in North and South America, Europe, and the Caribbean, often including particular language and dress, as well as the presence of a madman, fool, or clown. In addition, people organize and participate in dance, music, or theater. Latin American magical realists, for instance, explore the bright life-affirming side of the carnivalesque. 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 fora political ideal.

Read more: http://postcolonialstudies.emory.edu/magical-realism/#ixzz2fIUZXErb Magic Realism RATIONALE I. "Magic realism" has become a ubiquitous term to describe various contemporary works, yet a certain ambiguity surrounds it. Much of the critical work on magic realism has focused on the history and usage of the name itself, rather than the actual characteristics of the movement, which I see as an evolution of traditional mimesis initially exploring changing perceptions of the visual and the real, and culminating in a totalizing epic view of history based on the representation of the collective memory of a people. The term originated in Europe during the 1920's, in the writings of the German art historian Franz Roh who presented magic realism as a reaction to expressionism, and independently in the Italian journal Novecento, edited by writer and critic Massimo Bontempelli. It was adopted during the 1940's by Latin American authors who combined the theories of Roh and Bontempelli with French surrealist concepts of the marvelous, and incorporated indigenous mythologies within traditional mimetic conventions in their quest for the original Latin American novel. From the 1960's to the present, there has been a strong current of magic realism within the general movement of post-modernism, especially in British and North American literature. While a considerable body of criticism exists on twentieth-century responses to realism and the role of fantasy and the imaginary, the term "magic realism" in the context of the literatures of Europe and the United States appears, for the most part, only obliquely or as a passing reference. Recently in Germany there has been a renewed interest in the art and literature of the 1920's, especially the "neue Sachlichkeit" movement on which Roh based his theory of "magischer Realismus." I plan to demonstrate not only that magic realism exists as a continuous presence in twentieth-century literature, but that it presents an alternative to more established movements such as surrealism and post-modernism through its privileging of the mimetic function and its emphasis on the representation of history. For the purposes of this study, I will work within three subcategories: the novel of the 1920's and 1930's: theories of Roh and Bontempelli; works by Kafka, Junger and Musil, and the German movement "neue Sachlichkeit" (originally called "magischer Realismus") represented by Doblin; French novels by Breton, Aragon and Gracq which develop the new theories of "le merveilleux." -- the Latin American movement of the 1940's and 1950's: theories of Carpentier and Flores; works by Carpentier, Borges, Asturias, Uslar Pietri. the contemporary novel: the fabulists such as Grass, Rushdie, Garcia Marquez and Carter; works structured around multiple layers of reality: the Anglo-American tradition (Fowles, Barth,

Pynchon and Nabokov); the French tradition growing out of the Nouveau Roman (Simon, the later novels of Aragon). The topics I wish to consider include the relationship of magic realism to pre-established genres, the questions of derealization and defamiliarization; fabulation, historiography and the role of history. II. The representation of the banal and the quotidian is a central tenet of nineteenth-century realism, and magic realism continues this project. Like many modernist movements, however, magic realism rejects nineteenth-century positivism, the privileging of science and empiricism, returning instead to mythologies, folklore and mysticism in what Jameson calls "a reaction against the reification of realism." This in no way represents an abandonment of history; in fact, the representation of historical conflict is central to magic realist prose, and I would argue that in contemporary literature magic realism presents a way of restoring a historical dimension to the post-modern novel. Central to early magic realism is the emphasis on perception. There is nothing inherently new about this: both the nineteenth-century fantastic, which excels in the representation of unreal or uncanny effects, and nineteenth-century realism strongly privilege the role of the visual. However, new visual technologies (electricity, photography) which challenge traditional conceptions of space and time lead to a new perception, taking the form of a sudden apparition within the context of the quotidian and characterized by simultaneity, unusual juxtapositions and an extreme precision of language. The advent of psychoanalysis also contributes to this phenomenon by establishing the importance of perception in the structuring of the Unconscious, and leads to a conscious interest in the Repressed. While the surrealists draw on paradigms of the Freudian Unconscious and its fantasies, magic realists, with their gaze typically turned outward rather than inward, generally prefer the Jungian Unconscious and its collective archetypes. Both movements use the word play and collage/montage techniques of dadaism, but for the magic realists the mimetic function remains primary. In Berlin Alexanderplatz, for example, the city as a historical and ontological reality is the constant referent of Doblin's montages, mythologizing and formal word play. How does this compare to the representation of Paris in Nadja and Le paysan de Paris, or to Joyce's and Dos Passos' representations of the metropolis? The original theory of magic realism as defined by Roh expresses a desire to go beyond traditional mimesis and to represent the hidden, hitherto unperceived connections between objects within the quotidian. This heightened reality perception (Ringer's Das Abenteuerliche Herz) leads to the principal characteristics of magic realism, already strongly evident in Kafka, Mann and Musil: derealization (a sudden sense of detachment from the reality of the surrounding object world) and defamiliarization (the representation of familiar objects through a language or descriptive technique that causes them to appear new or shocking). In the derealized and defamiliarized world(s) of magic realism, the unusual juxtaposition of objects throws traditional descriptive systems into disarray, and the boundaries of an assumed "real" are stretched until levels of reality obeying different ontological laws coexist metonymically. In post-modern magic realism, the multiplicity of realities reaches such a point that it is no longer a question of

alternate worlds flowing into one another while still maintaining a certain internal coherence (as in Nabokov or Queneau) but rather the interfacing of what Jameson refers to as "semiautonomous subsystems" which are themselves in a constant state of mutation (Pynchon). The disconcerting multiplicity of realities in magic realism emphasizes rather than denies the historical dimension of these narratives. The exploration of the quotidian in early magic realism increasingly gives way to the representation of conflict, which is often but not exclusively generated by a crisis of national/cultural identity resulting from the overlap of several layers of history and culture within a given geographic area, such as Latin America or the Indian subcontinent. Many magic realists write in the language of an established national literature from which they feel excluded, such as Kafka's use of German, Nabokov's use of English, and the post-colonial writers' use of the language of their colonizers, be it Spanish, French or English. The movement follows a pattern of increasing historiography, the creation of elaborate genealogies (Borges, Nabokov) and mythologies (Jahnn) as a means of writing the "history" of a people or geographic area, and culminates in the contemporary fabulist movement. Although this development is often dismissed as mythomania, I would argue that it is a new form of the historical novel, which can be interpreted either as the reflection of a historical reality already of a fantastic nature (as Carpentier and Garcia Marquez claim) or as the result of a sense of historical impotence brought about by the reduction of all discourse, including history, to an amalgamation of semiotic systems.