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The History and Theory of Magical Realism


Two Works Cited     Magical Realism is one of today's most popular subjects in literature to discuss regarding its history and theory of Magical Realism. It began in the Latin culture and now is known word wide for its attributes. Magical Realism is even rivaling some of the great masterpieces of modern and past literature. Someday Magical Realism will be recognized and respected just as the classics are today.

Magical Realism supposedly began in 1935 with its golden age occurring between 1940 and 1950.The Magical Realism of Spanish and Latin America can be somewhat attributed to the social, political, and European influence. During the golden age of Magical Realism, Spanish and Latin American writers produced works that would, by some, be considered to be at the same level as the great Italian, French, and English works. Two people have been credited for coining the term Magical Realism, Dudley Fitts and Franz Roh. Which one gets the actual credit would be very difficult to state. However, it is not important who did the deed; it is important the deed was done. Professor Angel Flores remarked that "A Universal History of Infamy," written by Jorges Luis Borges marks the birth Magical Realism (Flores 109-117). Jorges Luis Borge's works are similar the works of Kafka. Both Kafka's and Borge's works reflect a collaboration of realism and fantasy. Before all the greatness of Magical Realism was realized, it was thought that the Spanish and Latin American fiction couldn't produce anything beyond simple works. However, times have changed, an abundance of great works and attributes are derived from the Latin American culture and its writings.

Magical realism is the writing of Spanish and Latin American authors. It is a mixture of realism and fantasy. However, the mixture is based on the fact that everything happening in the work is ordinary and an everyday occurrence. Anything, which takes place within the boundaries of the Magical Realism, is accepted as typical life among the characters in the story. No matter how far fetched or extraordinary the subjects are, all the characters within the work treat the action casually. For example if a man throws a baseball and it turns into a bee in mid flight, there would be no astonishment about this incident. It would be as if it is the natural thing for a baseball to metamorph into a bee. Even though in actuality a baseball could never possibly transform into a bee, the man, who threw the ball, would think nothing of it. This characteristic is one of the simplest ways to decide whether a writing is Magical Realism or not because Magical Realism contains no action that creates another action. There is no reason for the baseball to turn into a bee. No action or machine or spell is necessary for this transformation to happen. That is why Magical Literature or Science Fiction is unlike Magical Realism, where it would be necessary to use an action or a machine to do transformations.

Magical Realism became known for changing the way in which one thinks. Instead of seeing the ordinary and mundane, the Magical Realist brings a spark of life to the imagination, which in turn excites the mind of the reader. Magical Realism is a fusion of dream and reality, an amalgamation of realism and fantasy, and a form of expression that is reality based with several fantastic elements that are regarded as normal by both the readers and the characters. This is the simplest way in which Magical Realism can be described. Magical Realism is also known for showing a different viewpoint on life and the way in which people think or act. Luis Leal stated that Magical Realism cannot be identified either with fantastic literature or with psychological literature, or with the surrealist or hermetic literature (Leal 119-124). To put this idea in a much more facile definition, Magical Realism is just its own thing. It is the odd ball among the in crowd. Magical Realism does not use dream motifs, nor does it create false words. Due to the fact Magical Realism is neither of the above, it cannot be identified as fantastic literature or science fiction. Magical Realism is not magic literature, as the name would seem to imply. Instead of producing spells to create situations, it simply expresses them. Magical Realism is unlike other major writing styles that try to change or dominate the existing scene. It is humble, unlike many styles, which seem to be forced on people and in turn demand attention and gratification.

Magical Realism has touched about every facet of life. From art to television, not one thing is missing Magical Realism. When one looks at a painting and realizes there is much more than just the picture of an inanimate object on the canvas, then one understands the art of Magical Realism. Because of Magical Realism, painting has been raised to a whole new level, and no longer must people tell a story with words. One painting can speak a thousand words, even if it is just a portrait of a basket of fruit or a mixture of color abruptly tossed onto a canvas. Magical Realism has also been a factor in music. Due to Magical Realism in the music industry, songs have become much more than what they may seem. Key words within the lyrics can change the way in which one perceives the song's initial meaning. Songs can also motivate, discriminate, or even fixate the listener's mind. Perhaps in music, Magical Realism has the most effect on the masses. Although most people might not realize they are being affected by Magical Realism, in actuality they are dealing with it everyday.

As a conclusion to the statements above, one must remember that Magical Realism is neither Science Fiction nor Magical Literature. Rather, it is in everyday life and is all around. Magical Realism is also not to be underestimated; it includes works, which are legendary.


Works Cited

Flores, Angel." Magical Realism in Spanish American Fiction." Magical Realism:Theory, History, Community.Ed.Louis Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B.Faris.Durham,N.C.: Duke UP, 1995:109-117.

Leal, Luis." Magical Realism in Spanish American Literature." Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Ed.Louis Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris.Durham, N.C: Duke UP, 1995:119-124.


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