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Magical Realism in The Garden of Forking Paths

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Magical Realism in The Garden of Forking Paths


While there may be some debate as to whether the Argentinian Jorge Luis Borges was technically a Magical Realist, some may feel that his works definitely do have some of the characteristics of what is considered Magical Realistic literature. Among his various types of works are poetry, essays, fantasies, and short fictions. Often referred to in essays that discuss the history and theory of Magical Realism, "The Garden of Forking Paths" is probably Borges' most popular short story. Published in 1964 in a collection of Borges works entitled Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings, his short story "The Garden of Forking Paths" appears to have several of the elements of Magical Realism.

At a glance, the main plot of "The Garden of Forking Paths" may seem fairly simple and very real. In this story the main character, Yu Tsun, is a German spy who knows the name of the British artillery park. Yu Tsun wants to tell his chief about this British artillery park so that the Germans can destroy it. However, Yu Tsun is afraid that Captain Richard Madden, who is on the British side, will shoot him before he is able to get the word out in time. Therefore, Yu Tsun comes up with the plan to go to a Dr. Stephen Albert's house and shoot him. By shooting Stephen Albert, Yu Tsun relays the message to his chief in Berlin that Albert is the city where the British artillery park is located (Wiehe 980). A reader can see that the realist elements in "The Garden of Forking Paths" are that the story is taking place during World War I, that the story involves real people who are spies, and that the story is based on a fairly logical plot.

The term "fairly logical plot" is us...


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...mmunity. Ed. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham, N.C.: Duke UP, 1995: 163-186.

Flores, Angel. "Magical Realism in Spanish American Fiction." Magical Realism. Theory, History, Community. Ed. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham, N.C.: Duke UP, 1995: 109-116.

Roh, Franz. "Magic Realism: Post-Expressionism." Magical Realism. Theory, History, Community. Ed. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham, N.C.: Duke UP, 1995: 15-30.

Simpkins, Scott. "Sources of Magic Realism/Supplements to Realism in Contemporary Latin American Literature." Magical Realism. Theory, History, Community. Ed. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham, N.C.: Duke UP, 1995: 145-157.

Wiehe, Roger E. "Jorge Luis Borges." Critical Survey of Short Fiction. Vol 3. Ed. Frank N. Magill. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Salem Press, 1981: 977-982.

 


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