Magical Realism Essay

1282 words - 6 pages

Magical Realism

The idea of a genre of art that is called magical realism is less a trend than a tradition, an evolving genre that has its waxings and wanings, where each evolving form expresses an idea that may overlap another, yet at the same time branches off and creates something very different. What began in the visual arts has become a contemporary literary genre due to divergences. Contemporary Latin American writers of this mode include Alejo Carpentier, Jorge Luis Borges, Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Octavio Paz, Pablo Neruda, and Majorie Agosin. At the same time there are many writers of the genre world wide, though every form may take one new meaning. The magical ...view middle of the document...

With a more contemporary view of magical realism that brings it into not only the literary circles, but more specifically the Latin American literary circles, and also overlaps with magical realism initial meanings, Alejo Carpentier called magical realism "lo real maravilloso americano."

He initiates a uniquely American form of magical realism that opposes the European Surrealist meaning. Magical realism was not to imply a conscious assault on conventionally depicted reality but, rather, an amplification of perceived reality required by and inherent in Latin America nature and culture (Zamora 75). Carpentier speaking on behalf of Latin American magical realism argued:

"The fantastic is not to be discovered by subverting or transcending reality with abstract forms and manufactured combinations of images. Rather, the fantastic inheres in the natural and human realities of time and place, where improbable juxtapositions and marvelous mixtures exist by virtue of Latin America's varied history, geography, demography, and politics - not by manifesto."

The understanding of the different forms of magical realism that have developed, and the contradictions within those forms, allows us to divulge the meanings possible within its contemporary mode. It is a literary mode for revealing the mystery inherent in reality's traditions. So, while an understanding of the literary aspects is necessary, one must also see the contemporary writers', even more specifically Latin American writers', intentions in their actions.

The impulse to reestablish contact with traditions temporarily eclipsed by mimetic constraints of 19th and 20th century realism, as well as enlist their own in the present, was a definite ideological endeavor of magical realism" (Zamora 2).

"Contemporary magical realist writers self-consciously depart from the conventions of narrative realism to enter and amplify other (diverted) currents of Western literature that flow from the marvelous Greek pastoral and epic traditions to medieval dream visions to the romance and Gothic--fictions of the past century. A shift from the psychological to social and political concerns is somewhat incipient in contemporary magical realism, broadening one's understanding of the real. What seemed to exist within realism was the singular version, ideologically and hegemonically, as an objective, universal representation. Magical realism, too, is ideological, but not hegemonic. It is eccentric, not centralizing, with spaces for interactions of diversity (Zamora 2). The ontological disruption that magical realism instigates serves the purpose of political and cultural disruption. The genre is a cultural corrective. Readers are forced to scrutinize accepted realistic conventions of causality, materiality, and motivation (Zamora 3). Still, Magical realist writers aren't out to propose marginality as some new (disguised) mainstream as the questioning it creates may beg, but they look to renegotiate the nature...

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