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Magical Realism: Finding Magic in the Real World

  • admin@stratton1
  • May 24, 2017
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  • Blog

A genre of literature that describe a style of writing that reveals magical elements to everyday life, Magical Realism is a particular branch of low fantasy that is quite popular. What belies the simple description is a much deeper subject as it is chiefly associated as a Latin-American narrative style, often used to deal with colonialism. Unfortunately, quite a number of books have been inaccurately labeled and put (or at least lumped) into the genre of Magical Realism, and that if one takes all those books put them in a pile, it would be a hodgepodge of stories without any defining characteristic save for a fantastical element in a realistic setting. It is important that writers understand what the genre really is as to be able to distinguish it from other forms of fantasy. Despite this, writers are is still very much encouraged to write whatever they want to write about; it is easier to create then let the publishers decide the label than trying to fit story into the label and end up compromising and limiting the plot.

A highly recommended example of Magical Realism is the heart-wrenching saga that is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Magical Realism is serious fiction and not at all like escapist fantasy. It forces the reader to confront different points of view and realities. It is not the culture we are experiencing, but an actual culture in the same world that shows or explores a different truth.

There are no thought experiments in Magical Realism; it is definitely not speculative in any way. It views the world from a different lens in which we experience the world in someone else’s reality. These are stories of other people’s realities and what they think is true, yet is not the same of what is true in our reality. In their realities, they experience seeing “real” spirits and they believe in them, incorporating them into the world as a-matter-of-fact. The “magical” element is now part of the real world and forces the reader to take that perspective as the right one. It helps the reader empathize with the experiences of others.

Time is not linear in this genre, and the narratives shift with it, making it seem as if the story happened outside of time and yet still part of the real world. Time is an infinite loop as the story goes back and forth and yet still returns to the present. It puts together side-by-side events that are more than coincidence yet does not change the objective reality. The magical becomes ordinary and the ordinary becomes magical. A blooming flower or a child growing up into a beautiful person is magical and views with awe, but a ring lost by a lover at sea then appears at the paramours table when slicing open a fish (a miracle) becomes an ordinary experience. The magical is then fit into daily life but is examined so very closely that it the magical is reduced into the mundane. To read Magical Realism is to experience a non-objective reality, and that is what makes it one of the most fascinating genres in the literary world.

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