Magical Realism: What It Is

Published by Aeroflot in the blog Surreal Parisian Black Boxx Conglomeration No. 143. Views: 156

What Is Magical Realism, Really?

by Bruce Holland Rogers

"Magical realism" has become a debased term. When it first came into use to describe the work of certain Latin American writers, and then a small number of writers from many places in the world, it had a specific meaning that made it useful for critics. If someone made a list of recent magical realist works, there were certain characteristics that works on the list would share. The term also pointed to a particular array of techniques that writers could put to specialized use. Now the words have been applied so haphazardly that to call a work "magical realism" doesn't convey a very clear sense of what the work will be like.


I found this article just now, and I believe it does a fairly good job of explaining what magical realism is and what it is not. To sum up the article and also my own views: magical realism is a form of realism--not fantasy--that allows the author to insert into his stories ideas which are not real to every human being, such as ghosts, God, or events that wouldn't happen in normality, in order to convey a message.

Magical realism is a way to express one's views using *bizarre* techniques. That's what the genre is about. It's not fantasy because fantasy deals with objective reality, whereas magical realism is a projection of the authors subjective reality. To elaborate: say a schizophrenic writes a story about John, his imaginary friend, and someone reads the story. Well the reader knows John doesn't exist, but does that mean the story is a fantasy? The schizophrenic doesn't think so.

And it's important to view the story through the author's eyes and for a second give up your interpretation of life to be in someone else's. That's what you're doing anyway when you're reading any kind of fiction, except when reading magical realism, you just have to give up a little more of your reality.
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