Magic realism

style of literary fiction and art

Magic realism or magical realism is a style of literary fiction and art. It paints a realistic view of the world while also adding magical elements, often blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. Magic realism often refers to literature in particular, with magical or supernatural phenomena presented in an otherwise real-world or mundane setting, commonly found in novels and dramatic performances.

Quotes edit

  • My favorite definition of magic realism is by Ariel Dorfman, who said in an NPR interview about his play, Widows, "When people who have nothing demand everything, that’s real magic." This is literature that talks about not just the transformation of the individual, but of society.
  • (In terms of telling stories based on cultural differences, do you consider yourself a “magical realist”?) The term became an easy way to classify a set of writings that didn’t match up with North American expectations. I ended up writing/talking a good deal about magical realism in relation to my work. I had already read One-hundred Years of Solitude when I was in college, probably because that was when it was translated into English. I sent a copy in Spanish to my parents, saying, “Look this is just like our family stories!” And they said, “Yes, this is like our story-telling tradition.”
  • The first person to name that movement "Magical Realism," to give a label to that, was Alejo Carpentier. He was living with the surrealists in France and the surrealists were inventing this wonderful new thing of printing together on a dissecting table, a sewing machine and an umbrella, and that was surrealism. And Alejo Carpentier realized that this was an intellectual process that had its roots, and he could see the umbrella and the sewing machine on this dissecting table in Latin America because it was part of our culture. Kafka would have been a realist if he would have lived in Mexico. So Alejo Carpentier realized that, and he abandoned the surrealists and searched in our roots, in our history, in our legends, in our folklore. He was the first one to label it. And it was wonderful because it was like giving permission to other writers to finally use their own voices. Because before that our writers were always trying to imitate Europeans, or North Americans, and were denying all our Indian background, our African influence, our own languages, and legends, and myths. This was just an open door for all that. I think that was the beginning of the Boom. That really gave a lot of people permission to do anything. But it's not a literary device, it's part of our life. The magic is still there. Because magic, in my case, stands for emotions...Maybe we deal with them in different forms, but we all feel them in the same way
  • Today, great writers from minority groups in the U.S. are finding their voice in the wonderful, rich imagery of magic realism. Writers such as Louise Erdrich, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Amy Tan all have a unique, rich way of writing that can be described as magic realism. These women are among those who have broken away from the style of writing that defines most of the fiction coming from industrialized countries: that pragmatic, minimalist style and way of facing reality in which the only things one dares talk about are those things one can control. What cannot be controlled is denied.
  • Magic realism once referred to the literary style of a loosely connected group of Latin American authors who penned works some 60 years ago, but in the English-speaking world, the term has become synonymous with Latin American writing in general. Picture every work by a British writer being called “Austenesque” today, and you get an idea of this phenomenon...Categories should not act as straitjackets, and yet the magic realism label has sometimes strangled rather than liberated Latin American literature.

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