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The Character of Magical Realism

Guest Author - Nicole Pickens

The literary world has reservations on the genre of Magical Realist fiction. It is not really a new genre but one that has acquired an intellectual title and an academic following. Nearly, every culture and era has engaged in a form of Magical Realism.

The term “Magical Realism” was originally a phrase coined by a German art critic named Franz Roh who used the expression to describe Post-Expressionist European art of the 1920’s. He saw an exaggeration and fantastic in paintings that made them magical to the viewer, a type of extraterrestrial vision among his contemporaries.

Magical Realism in art continued to move throughout Europe during the 1930’s and influenced its viewers including many writers beginning in the 1940’s. Several fictional and academic writers embraced a style of writing that held the imaginations of many readers and started a dispute of how it was to be defined.

Magical Realism has accumulated several works of fiction, essays and even a specialized doctorate, as it transformed and metamorphosis into new territory. It has revolved around the globe to other places including the Caribbean, Argentina, and Russia.

The elements that make Magical Realism what it is vary from person to person and even time, but there are some basic theories and assumptions.

Most agree that the narrative in the fiction incorporates supernatural elements as though it is very natural for them to be there. It‘s considered indistinguishable from the other “real” in the story, only the reader of the tale who is aware of the difference and questions its presence.

It is the ordinary, the mundane, that evolves into the greatest magic. The settings are usually very realistic for their time periods. The reader becomes comfortable in what is considered normal until supernatural elements fall into the story, not to frighten but to continue the story’s process.

The magical elements assist to tell the story. Sometimes it represents an archetype or a grotesque symbolism. Whatever it is, it is there to reveal and take part in the lesson described between the pages. It always has a functional goal to both the characters in the story and the reader reading.

It can be very confusing for readers to sort out what is real or magical.
The tales move in a variety directions instead of in conventional ways. The literary voyage sometimes is exhausting, like a roller-coaster except it will go backwards, take some flying leaps to land in another place altogether.

Magical Realism’s art and literature are interesting combinations of romance, surrealism and fantasy. Both are still going strong. What is one person’s dream may be another person’s nightmare.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Nicole Pickens. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Nicole Pickens. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Kathryn Jones Merry for details.

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