Magical Realism

Magical Realism

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To many critics of the genre, Magical Realism is nothing but updated children's tales being passed off as substantial literature, but if we look deeper, the essence of this movement is bared to the viewer. By looking at the history and origins of Magical Realism, as well as the term itself, we can begin to understand the importance of this writing style in today's society.
The roots behind Magical Realism are found in many cultures, but the literature is mainly attributed to South American writers, such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The dichotomy of living in a country that your blood ancestors more or less discovered, whose rituals are still practiced to a small degree, while living under laws and religions that were placed upon those same ancestors by colonial invaders has fed and nourished the ability for these South American authors to create a style of literature that holds up the ancient and current as separates while combining them to show intrinsic human ideals. In doing this the author can interest the reader by incorporating fantastic images that also stand as symbols to explain and teach. Marquez demonstrates this in his story “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.” A poor, backwater villager discovers a ragged old man in his garden who turns out to be an angel, but since this angel is not the glowing embodiment of glory of which the man and villagers have been informed, they are disinterested and unimpressed with the holy being. By juxtaposing the historic, more survival-based civilization of the villagers, and the angel, a supernatural force that is unnecessary and burdensome to their lives, we are given a perfect example of the theme of Magical Realism. The people of the village have worshiped angels, while farming and struggling with life, but when cut comes to scratch the only use the protagonist and his family have for the angel is as a side-show, money making venture. They fail to realize the greatness of being in the presence of an angel because it lacks the grandeur they were taught to expect. In this way Marquez explores religious ideas while at the same time exploring the indigenous people of South America and comes out with a story that can be grasped by a varied and diverse audience.
This brings us to the term Magical Realism itself. According to Evelyn C. Leeper of the geocities page www.

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geocities.com/Athens/4824/magreal.htm, the German art critic Franz Roh created this term to describe artists, though it was later used to describe authors who were looking at reality in an outside or imaginary reality. By doing so, the artists, both visual and literary, were able to use imaginative images to explain their thoughts. They took the reality of the every day and the magic of images - historic, mythic or otherwise - and interchanged their basic characteristics to create stories that both taught and mystified, not unlike ancient shamans or minstrels. Magical Realism takes reality and makes it magical while at the same time makes magic real.
In a sense, the critics are correct and Magical Realism is “fun fiction.” It allows the reader to be as creative as the author, while also being intellectual and thinking about issues on different planes. It incorporates the audience and asks him or her to look past the obvious and into the larger, brighter point on the horizon, grasping the interest in seriousness and the fancy in substantiality.

Bibliography
Leeper, Evelyn C., www.geocities.com/Athens/4824/magreal.htm, 2004.
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia, English 214 Reader, 2004.
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