Essay about Elements of Magical Realism and Sublime in Toad's Mouth

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Elements of Magical Realism and Sublime in Toad's Mouth  

    "Toad's Mouth" is a short story written by Isabel Allende in 1989. She has lived in Chili for most of her life, but she was born in Lima, Peru. Her father was a diplomat in Peru, but when her parents divorced, Allende's mother took her back to Santiago, Chili, to live with her grandparents. She wrote her first novel, The House of Spirits, around 1981. It became an international best seller. After reading "Toad's Mouth, I believe that magical realism and sublime literature have many things in common.


Like magical realism, sublime literature has magical and realistic elements. Most of the magical elements in this story seem to fit into the sublime category. Burke describes the sublime as having great vastness (Burke). The English raised vast numbers of sheep. "After a few years the animals had multiplied in such numbers that from a distance they looked like clouds trapped against the ground; they ate all the vegetation and trampled the last altars of the indigenous cultures" (83). The story also talks about the vast country side and far places that people came from. James B. Twitchell says that the landscapes "often are focused on a point just where the horizontal margin of nature meets the supernatural world of the sky, where the landscape is connected with the quiet sky" (Twitchell). The land is described as, "stone, sedge, and ice; endless plains that toward Tierra del Fuego break up into a rosary of islands, peaks of a snowy cordillera closing off the distant horizon, and silence that dates from the birth of time, interrupted periodically by the subterranean sigh of glaciers slipping slowly toward the sea" (83). Another sublime element is the fact t...

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...l. "Toad's Mouth". A Hammock Beneath the Mangoes. Ed. Thomas Colchie. N. Y.: Plume Printing, 1991. 81-88.

Arensberg, Mary. The American Sublime. Ed. Mary Arensberg. State University of New York Press, Albany, 1986.

Burke, Edmund. A Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful. New York: Pengiun Classics, 1998.

Faris, Wendy B. "Scheherasade's Children: Magical Realism and Postmodern Fiction". Magical Realism Theory, History, Community. Ed. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham, Duke U.P.: 1995. 163-190.

Sandner, David. The Fantastic Sublime Romanticism and Transcendence in Nineteenth-Century Children's Fantasy Literature. Ed. David Sandner. Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1996.

Twitchell, James B. Romantic Horizons Aspects of the Sublime in English Poetry and Painting, 1770-1850. Columbia: U of Missouri Press, 1983.


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