Magical Realism: Theory and History

Magical Realism: Theory and History

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Magical Realism: Theory and History


While reading Franz Roh, Angel Flores, Amaryll Chanady, and Luis Leal, I have learned many things about magical realism. I also learned that there are many different definitions for magical realism. I have learned that magical realism is not considered a
fairy tale. Amaryll Chanady feels that magical realism is focused more toward reality. However, Luis Leal feels that magical realism is used to express emotions. While reading these essays and finding some research on magical realism, I found that many people have many different views on what magical realism is. By doing research, I have found that it can mean many different things, and it is exciting to learn about something as interesting as magical realism is.

Learning about magical realism has been very interesting for me. When reading Franz Roh, I learned a lot about Post- Expressionism and Expressionism. Expressionism involved a painting. It involved animals walking in the sky, and it also showed heated heads popped like corks from overflowing bottles, while Post- Expressionism dealt with painting and pictures with frames (Roh 16-17). On the other hand, Angel Flores was a little hard fro me to understand at first. I found myself asking questions such as "Will I understand what I am reading?" "Is this going to make sense to me?" "What am I suppose to see in this American Fiction?" I did learn that magical realism has to deal with fantasies written in Spanish (Flores 110-111). Then looking at Amaryll Chanady, I learned that Flores stated that, "practitioners of magical realism clings to reality as if to prevent their myth from flying off, as in fairy tales, to supernatural realism." Luis Leal also has many different opinions toward magical realism. However, I did not agree with a few of them. I did understand and agreed with a few, though. In Luis Leal's essay, I learned that Roh explained the origin of the term by saying that with the word "magical," as opposed to "mystical," he wanted to emphasize that the mystery does not descend to the represented world, but rather hides and palpitates behind it (120-121). I agreed with what he wanted to emphasize. It was also mentioned that magical realism is not magic literature. Magical realism is used to express emotions not to evoke them (120-121). I feel that magical realism is definitely used to express emotions, not to evoke them.

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After further reading Luis Leal, I learned Cortazar has the narrator say "strange how people are under the impressions that making a bed, that to shake is to open the same can of sardines and infinitum." Magical realism does not try to copy the surrounding reality or wound it, but to seize the mystery that breathes behind things (121).

According to an internet page called the Magical Realism Page, the term "magical realism" was coined by a German art critic, Franz Roh, in the late 1920s for painters trying to show reality in a new way. Other definitions brought up were that "Magical Realism is Fantasy written in Spanish." This page also mentioned that magical realism must be natural, inexplicable, and uncontrollable While reading the Magical Realism Page, I learned how magical realism is not magic in the sense of casting spells or manipulating reality. It is magic in the sense that it exceeds the boundaries of the purely realistic setting that becomes a part of a new setting.

According to Marquez- Magical Realism , Gabriel Garcia has been linked to a style of literature known as "magical realism." This type of literature is characterized by elements of the fantastic woven in the story with a deadpan of presentation. While reading more about this term, I found that it is simply too limiting and acts to remove the fiction in question from the world of serious literature. While finishing reading Marquez- Magical Realism, I found an adaption from M. H. Abrams' a Glossary of Literacy Terms, 6th ed, and also a citation by Dr. Robert P. Fletcher of West Chester University. The information that was given said that magical realism was originally applied in the 1920s to a school of painters. It was used to describe the prose fiction of Jorge Luis Borges in Argentina, as well as the work writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez in Colombia, Gunter Grass n Germany, and John Fowles in England.

According to Magical Realism Theory, History, and Community, magical realism is also often regarded as a regional trend, restricted to the Latin American writers who popularized it as theory form. I found from another website that magical realism was the term utilized to describe Latin American literature during the 1960s. Magical realism is what differentiates the Latin American novel of El Boom from th European and English- language novels Magical Realism is a combination of the real with the magical, and it is the opposite of Social Realism. Alejo Carpentier, Miguel Angel Asturias, Juan Rulfo, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez are authors who have provided some of their terms of magical realism.

According to an Encyclopedia of World Literature in the Twentieth Century, some view magical realism as a technique for creating or inventing a fantasy that is made to appear versimilar. Virtually all critics now agree that magic realism constitutes a narrative tendency that is distinct and separate from fantastic literature. Many would also agree that magic realism is a thematic rather than a structural term because its usefulness for literary analysis is so imprecise.

While defining some different words that deal with magical realism, we found that fantasy was thought of as imaginary, unreal, dreams, fairy tales, and cartoons such as Alice in Wonderland. Magical was defined as folklore, unreal, Christmas, an illusion, a castle, spells, dragons, and witches. Supernatural was defined as spiritual, ghostly, a freak of nature, aliens, and movies such as the Sixth Sense. Last, but not least, realism was defined as life like, universal things: Greek and Shakespearean plays and reality(makes sense).

A website on magical realism gave some people's thoughts on what magical realism is. Some think that it is mostly fiction set in consensus reality, but with non-logical intrusions of fantasy. Others find magical realism is about a magic woven into reality in such a way that the boundaries between the two are fluid or nonexistent. I found it interesting when I read that one considered magical realism to be a subset of Contemporary Fantasy(fantasy which takes place today), where the magic takes place just out of sight and one can only catch glimpses from the corner of a persons eye. I agree with that definition.

Some characteristics of magical realism include the way he or she views the world through art, emotional responses(the way one feels about things), and as intellectual constructed, inert, and frigid. From doing research on magical realism and trying to define it, I myself and others defined magical realism as the world's view of art and literature combined. We think that the purpose of magical realism is to let the world know there are different views of art and literature. Not everyone has the same view, so the world needs to combine all views and understand each other's opinion.

I had many questions concerning magical realism. I had no idea what it was. Then I started reading essays about it and trying to understand what everything meant. I had questions such as "Will I understand what I am reading, and is this going to make sense to me?" "What am I supposed to see in this American Fiction?" After reading an article a few times, I started understanding the language of it. However, I had several disagreements about what the meaning of magical realism before I was understanding the word magical realism. I learned through this research that one can not just look at one or two things and say, "I know what it is now." One needs to find many things about magical realism first, then think about what one is reading, and then decide if he or she agrees or disagrees. Throughout my research, I found that everybody has his or her own definition of what magical realism is. Only a few people had the same meaning. I agreed with some, and I disagreed as well. One can find plenty of information regarding magical realism. Therefore, if a person has any questions on it, feel free to learn something new and do some research on magical realism.

As one can see while reading these essays and finding some research on magical realism, I found that many people have many different views on what magical realism is. By doing research, I have found that it can mean many different things, and it is exciting to learns about something as interesting as magical realism is. Magical realism gives one different views on the world towards literature and art. From what I have learned, magical realism can mean many things. A person just needs to understand what the word magical realism means. For example, how a painter by the name of Schrimpf did not paint outdoors and did not use a model was interesting to me. I think that it is interesting how he paints his landscapes in his studio and how he wants it to be real to impress us. A person can look at magical realism in this way. One should pick out things that interest him or her and see what they mean.

Works Cited

Chanady, Amaryll. "The Territorialization of the Imaginary in Latin America: Self-Affirmation and Resistance to Metropolitan Pilgrims." Magical Realism. Theory, History, Community. Ed Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durkham, N. C: Duke UP, 1995:125-141.

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

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

Roh, Franz. "Magical Realism: Post Expressionism." Magical Realism. Theory, History, Community. Ed. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durikham, N. C: Duke UP, 1995. 15-31.

The Magical Realism Page. 9 Jan 2001 Http://www.geocities.com/Athens/4824/magreal.htm

Magical Realism. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. 7 Jan 2001.
http://www.themodernword.com/gabo/gabo_mr.html

Magical Realism Theory, History, Community. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris, Editors. 7 Jan 2001. http://uta.edu/english/wbfaris/MagicalRealism.html

Magical Realism. 5 Jan 2001. <http://www.txwesleyan.edu/scoggins/world/projects/elboom/magicalrealism.html>

Magical Realism Encyclopedia of World Literature. 9 Nov 1998. 5 Jan 2001. http://www.northstartarnet.org/MHONARC/FICTION_L/November1998/msg00127.html
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