Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Frequent Contributor
BarbaraN
Posts: 519
Registered: ‎11-08-2006
0 Kudos

Magical Realism

[ Edited ]
We'll talk about García Márquez's magical realism. We'll talk about all of this and more.

I can't wait!

Jessica



I'm a bit new to this but what is "magical realism?" Since I'm still at the beginning of the book, I might want to look for instances of it.

Barbara

Message Edited by Jessica on 10-09-2007 10:44 AM
Melissa_W
Posts: 4,124
Topics: 516
Kudos: 966
Blog Posts: 3
Ideas: 15
Solutions: 33
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Magic Realism

[ Edited ]
Magic realism is a term borrowed from the art world. It was coined by Franz Roh in 1925 and used to describe the work of certain German painters of the neue Sachlichkeit; the work used objects and figures depicted in a surrealistic manner and often had an outlandish or dream-like quality. The term appeared in the US in 1940s (MOMA had an exhibition called "American Realists and Magic Realists" and included work by Hopper and Sheeler) and also started to be applied to works of fiction at the same time. Features of fiction written using the magic realism style include: a juxtaposition of the realistic and fantastic/bizarre, shifts in time, convoluted narratives, use of dreams, myths and fairy tales in the narrative, surrealism (no surprise there), and extreme shock or horror. The two best known writers of this style are Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Luis Borges and other writers who experiment in the style are Italo Calvino, John FOwles, Gunter Grass, Emma Tennant, Angela Carter, and Salman Rushdie. (this definition comes from the Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory).



BarbaraN wrote:
We'll talk about García Márquez's magical realism. We'll talk about all of this and more.

I can't wait!

Jessica
---------------------

I'm a bit new to this but what is "magical realism?" Since I'm still at the beginning of the book, I might want to look for instances of it.

Barbara



Message Edited by pedsphleb on 10-09-2007 08:14 AM
Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
balletbookworm.blogspot.com
Frequent Contributor
BarbaraN
Posts: 519
Registered: ‎11-08-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Magic Realism

Thanks for the information, Melissa, I had not realized thatit started with art but then the arts do influence each other.

I found this link with various definitions:

http://www.public.asu.edu/~aarios/resourcebank/definitions/

I thought GGM's statement most appropriate:

Garcia Marquez maintains that realism is a kind of premeditated literature that offers too static and exclusive a vision of reality. However good or bad they may be, they are books which finish on the last page. Disproportion is part of our reality too. Our reality is in itself all out of proportion. In other words, Garcia Marquez suggests that the magic text is, paradoxically, more realistic than the realist text. (Scott Simpkins, Sources of Magic Realism/Supplements to Realism in Contemporary Latin American Literature. Magical Realism. Ed. Zamora and Faris, p. 148)

Here is another link where it is specifically applied to GGM.

http://mockingbird.creighton.edu/Ncw/marquez.htm
Frequent Contributor
Jessica
Posts: 968
Registered: ‎09-24-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Magic Realism


pedsphleb wrote:
Magic realism is a term borrowed from the art world. It was coined by Franz Roh in 1925 and used to describe the work of certain German painters of the neue Sachlichkeit; the work used objects and figures depicted in a surrealistic manner and often had an outlandish or dream-like quality. The term appeared in the US in 1940s (MOMA had an exhibition called "American Realists and Magic Realists" and included work by Hopper and Sheeler) and also started to be applied to works of fiction at the same time. Features of fiction written using the magic realism style include: a juxtaposition of the realistic and fantastic/bizarre, shifts in time, convoluted narratives, use of dreams, myths and fairy tales in the narrative, surrealism (no surprise there), and extreme shock or horror. The two best known writers of this style are Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Luis Borges and other writers who experiment in the style are Italo Calvino, John FOwles, Gunter Grass, Emma Tennant, Angela Carter, and Salman Rushdie. (this definition comes from the Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory).



BarbaraN wrote:
We'll talk about García Márquez's magical realism. We'll talk about all of this and more.

I can't wait!

Jessica
---------------------

I'm a bit new to this but what is "magical realism?" Since I'm still at the beginning of the book, I might want to look for instances of it.

Barbara



Message Edited by pedsphleb on 10-09-2007 08:14 AM




Hi Barbara,

Also, some things to look for are:
  • A non-linear plot. Notice how the story jumps around in time.
  • Seemingly random use of myths or storytelling.
  • A lot of talk about how we experience things (our feelings, dreams, all 5 senses etc.). So themes of life & death & spirituality tend to come up.
  • Most noticeably, characters who don't notice absurd or improbable events, because they are simply considered 'normal.'

    Has anyone read Life of Pi? A boy trapped in a canoe on the ocean with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger named Richard Parker ... Pure magical realism!

    To me, magical realism has a tint of childhood innocence to it.
  • Frequent Contributor
    BarbaraN
    Posts: 519
    Registered: ‎11-08-2006
    0 Kudos

    Re: Magic Realism


    Jessica wrote:

    Hi Barbara,

    Also, some things to look for are:
  • A non-linear plot. Notice how the story jumps around in time.
  • Seemingly random use of myths or storytelling.
  • A lot of talk about how we experience things (our feelings, dreams, all 5 senses etc.). So themes of life & death & spirituality tend to come up.
  • Most noticeably, characters who don't notice absurd or improbable events, because they are simply considered 'normal.'

    Has anyone read Life of Pi? A boy trapped in a canoe on the ocean with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger named Richard Parker ... Pure magical realism!

    To me, magical realism has a tint of childhood innocence to it.




  • Ah, that helps. I did read the Life of Pi and didn't realize that is what it was. Now I know what to look for as I read LitTC
    Frequent Contributor
    BarbaraN
    Posts: 519
    Registered: ‎11-08-2006
    0 Kudos

    Re: Magic Realism

    This definition helps a lot too.

    What is Magical Realism?

    Isabel Allende said, "Let's first begin by defining "Magical Realism". Magical Realism is a genre that combines reality and surreality onto the same plane. Many people confuse this genre with Science Fiction so let me give you a quick example that highlights the difference between the two:

    "She ascended to heaven". That's science fiction because the phenomenon of a person rising to heaven is entirely extraordinary.

    "She ascended to heaven wrapped a flickering flame of silk sheets". Now that's magical realism because the silk sheets offer a mysterious explanation as to why and how this woman is floating to heaven. With such vivid imagery and tangible reality, what WAS extraordinary now seems to be much more plausible, although the explanation for it is illogical and strange.

    Magical realism, therefore, is a perfect device for expressing a reality that is rich and complex. Personally, however, I don't like how critics came up with this term because I believe that magical occurrences in everyday life is not so implausible so to assign a special term for is is quite discouraging."
    Frequent Contributor
    Jessica
    Posts: 968
    Registered: ‎09-24-2006
    0 Kudos

    Re: Magic Realism


    BarbaraN wrote: This definition helps a lot too.

    What is Magical Realism?

    Isabel Allende said, "Let's first begin by defining "Magical Realism". Magical Realism is a genre that combines reality and surreality onto the same plane. Many people confuse this genre with Science Fiction so let me give you a quick example that highlights the difference between the two:

    "She ascended to heaven". That's science fiction because the phenomenon of a person rising to heaven is entirely extraordinary.

    "She ascended to heaven wrapped a flickering flame of silk sheets". Now that's magical realism because the silk sheets offer a mysterious explanation as to why and how this woman is floating to heaven. With such vivid imagery and tangible reality, what WAS extraordinary now seems to be much more plausible, although the explanation for it is illogical and strange.

    Magical realism, therefore, is a perfect device for expressing a reality that is rich and complex. Personally, however, I don't like how critics came up with this term because I believe that magical occurrences in everyday life is not so implausible so to assign a special term for is is quite discouraging."



    One of my favorite examples is from Like Water for Chocolate. The main character (Tita) makes chocolates, and when other people eat them, they feel what she feels. Hilarity, love, and pain ensue. Of course, the way the story is presented, it's just another normal day in the village! (Or, like Allende says above, magical occurrences in everyday life are not so implausible.)

    I think Allende's key words are "mysterious explanation." Take the story of Jekyll & Hyde. Unreal things happening is not enough to classify something as magical realism. In J&H, the event has a logical explanation -- a scientist's experiment went horribly awry. But with magical realism, the "explanation" is either unknown, or "...just because."

    Let's track down some examples of magical realism in Love!
    Frequent Contributor
    Jessica
    Posts: 968
    Registered: ‎09-24-2006
    0 Kudos

    Re: Magic Realism

    [ Edited ]

    Jessica wrote: Let's track down some examples of magical realism in Love!



    Here's one: "The strangest of all were three crows in a very large cage, who filled the patio with an ambiguous perfume every time they flapped their wings." (Ch. 3, p. 116)

    Interesting, too, that the fragrance went from "ambiguous" to "feminine" ("They broke into sordid shrieking, flapped their wings in fright, and saturated the Doctor's clothing with a feminine fragrance" p. 118.) to "whorish" ("His mother and sister were having cafe con leche ... when they saw him appear in the door, his face haggard and his entire being dishonored by the whorish perfume of the crows" p. 121.). Seems the longer the doctor was exposed, the more intense and sexualized the scent became.

    And notice that the explanation for why the crows have the ability to generate and spread this perfumed scent is never offered.

    Let's find some more...

    Message Edited by Jessica on 10-10-2007 01:09 PM
    Inspired Contributor
    foxycat
    Posts: 1,626
    Registered: ‎06-17-2007
    0 Kudos

    Re: Magic Realism

    Don't forget Allende's own "House of the Spirits" with the clairvoyant wife.

    I joined a "live" book club a few years ago, and oh, what a difference from BN. The entire group except me complained that this book wasn't realistic. I protested that it wasn't meant to be and tried to explain magic realism. The book was quickly dismissed after two hours in favor of something more realistic.

    I wish I had time to read it again with this group, but I'm committed at "House of Mirth." I will be snooping.
    Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

    Frequent Contributor
    Jessica
    Posts: 968
    Registered: ‎09-24-2006
    0 Kudos

    Re: Magic Realism


    foxycat wrote: Don't forget Allende's own "House of the Spirits" with the clairvoyant wife. I joined a "live" book club a few years ago, and oh, what a difference from BN. The entire group except me complained that this book wasn't realistic. I protested that it wasn't meant to be and tried to explain magic realism. The book was quickly dismissed after two hours in favor of something more realistic. I wish I had time to read it again with this group, but I'm committed at "House of Mirth." I will be snooping.


    What a shame! House of Spirits is a beautiful book. Truly magical.

    Do stop by and chat with us some more! We'll probably stil be discussing the book in November.
    Frequent Contributor
    BarbaraN
    Posts: 519
    Registered: ‎11-08-2006
    0 Kudos

    Re: Magic Realism


    foxycat wrote:
    Don't forget Allende's own "House of the Spirits" with the clairvoyant wife.

    I joined a "live" book club a few years ago, and oh, what a difference from BN. The entire group except me complained that this book wasn't realistic. I protested that it wasn't meant to be and tried to explain magic realism. The book was quickly dismissed after two hours in favor of something more realistic.

    I wish I had time to read it again with this group, but I'm committed at "House of Mirth." I will be snooping.




    I just got a copy of Allende's "House of the Spirits" but right now it is on my to "to read pile". In addition to LITTC for this club, I am also reading Allende's "Ines of My Soul" and like it very much but it is not Magical Realism (so far) but a most interesting bit of Historical Fiction about the conquest of Chile. I also picked up "Like Water for Chocolate" that Jessica recommended as a good example of Magical Realism but it is also in my stack of "to be read" right now along with the classic of Magical Realism, Garcia Marquez's "100 Years of Solitude." For a really short introductory work, I read "Aura" by Carlos Fuentes. You can also see a movie of "Like Water for Chocolate", which is not only a good movie, but also serves as a good introduction:

    http://video.barnesandnoble.com/search/product.asp?z=y&bnit=H&bnrefer=BROWSE&EAN=717951002730&itm=1
    Frequent Contributor
    APenForYourThoughts
    Posts: 394
    Registered: ‎06-22-2007
    0 Kudos

    Re: Magic Realism

    We're actually reading Latin American novels from the magical realism genre this semester in my English class, and House of the Spirits was the book we had to read over the summer. We just finished discussing it in class, actually. It really is a wonderful book, a must-read if you haven't read it. I find myself being increasingly drawn to the magical realism genre. We're reading Pedro Paramo right now, and it has captivated me more than almost any other book has. Like Water for Chocolate is our next novel. What I have read of the genre so far is overflowing with gorgeous imagery and fascinating scenarios, with just a tinge of the unreal that takes the reader away. As we see in Love in the Time of Cholera, there is a beauty, a unique kind of magic, in the way the novel is written, and that's why these novels are so special; they refuse to conform to the ordinary. :smileyhappy:
    "A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us." --Kafka
    Frequent Contributor
    BarbaraN
    Posts: 519
    Registered: ‎11-08-2006
    0 Kudos

    Re: Magic Realism



    APenForYourThoughts wrote:
    We're actually reading Latin American novels from the magical realism genre this semester in my English class, and House of the Spirits was the book we had to read over the summer. We just finished discussing it in class, actually. It really is a wonderful book, a must-read if you haven't read it. I find myself being increasingly drawn to the magical realism genre. We're reading Pedro Paramo right now, and it has captivated me more than almost any other book has. Like Water for Chocolate is our next novel. What I have read of the genre so far is overflowing with gorgeous imagery and fascinating scenarios, with just a tinge of the unreal that takes the reader away. As we see in Love in the Time of Cholera, there is a beauty, a unique kind of magic, in the way the novel is written, and that's why these novels are so special; they refuse to conform to the ordinary. :smileyhappy:




    Can you list your reading list?
    Frequent Contributor
    APenForYourThoughts
    Posts: 394
    Registered: ‎06-22-2007
    0 Kudos

    Re: Magic Realism

    First semester, we're doing Latin American novels: House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. Second semester is world literature: Beowulf, Day by Elie Wiesel, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. I wish there were more magical realism novels, though...
    "A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us." --Kafka
    Inspired Contributor
    foxycat
    Posts: 1,626
    Registered: ‎06-17-2007
    0 Kudos

    Re: Magic Realism

    I meant we were reading "Cholera."



    Jessica wrote:

    foxycat wrote: Don't forget Allende's own "House of the Spirits" with the clairvoyant wife. I joined a "live" book club a few years ago, and oh, what a difference from BN. The entire group except me complained that this book wasn't realistic. I protested that it wasn't meant to be and tried to explain magic realism. The book was quickly dismissed after two hours in favor of something more realistic. I wish I had time to read it again with this group, but I'm committed at "House of Mirth." I will be snooping.


    What a shame! House of Spirits is a beautiful book. Truly magical.

    Do stop by and chat with us some more! We'll probably stil be discussing the book in November.


    Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

    Distinguished Bibliophile
    dulcinea3
    Posts: 4,389
    Registered: ‎10-19-2006
    0 Kudos

    Re: Magic Realism

    I know this discussion is long over, but another good example of magical realism is Practical Magic. The novel is better than the movie.

    I read Cien Anos de Soledad years ago in college. The classic example of magical realism was the girl ascending into heaven (as I seem to recall, as she was hanging sheets on the clothesline). We read Pedro Paramo in the same class, but, interestingly, I don't remember that it was also magical realism. I don't think I still have the book, because I prefer Spanish to Latin American literature, and got rid of a number of the latter during a book purge a while back. I kept all of my Gabriel Garcia Marquez, though - he was one author whose books I bought even when I wasn't studying them in class. I read Love in the Time of Cholera, but that was the first one of his I had read in several decades, and the first in English.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Grand Dame of the Land of Oz, Duchess of Fantasia, in the Kingdom of Wordsmithonia; also, Poet Laureate of the Kingdom of Wordsmithonia
    New User
    gis4gucci
    Posts: 6
    Registered: ‎01-24-2008
    0 Kudos

    Re: Magic Realism

    I see this thread is long since abandoned, but what a fascinating topic. I'm Gina and new to the bn group. I read love in the time of cholera a few years ago and enjoyed it. I don't think I remember the exact magical realism presented in the book, though I prefer that type of book so much-that I think I must expect it in a book I'm actually going to finish. I didn't realize there was a term coined for that type of novel. I knew I preferred them-- loving like water for chocolate and the recent Sarah Addison novel Garden Spells. The more out there the better for me. I also just read Lost Paradise by AS Byat--he was really out there! I also just finished the time traveler's wife. Long! I guess what I'm saying is, thanks! Now I know more specifically what I like, I can find them more easily. I guess I've never been able to put my finger on it. I just know I take out a lot of books from the library only to return them unread. So thanks! I appreciate the discussion. Gina
    Frequent Contributor
    Jessica
    Posts: 968
    Registered: ‎09-24-2006
    0 Kudos

    Re: Magic Realism


    gis4gucci wrote:
    I see this thread is long since abandoned, but what a fascinating topic. I'm Gina and new to the bn group. I read love in the time of cholera a few years ago and enjoyed it. I don't think I remember the exact magical realism presented in the book, though I prefer that type of book so much-that I think I must expect it in a book I'm actually going to finish. I didn't realize there was a term coined for that type of novel. I knew I preferred them-- loving like water for chocolate and the recent Sarah Addison novel Garden Spells. The more out there the better for me. I also just read Lost Paradise by AS Byat--he was really out there! I also just finished the time traveler's wife. Long! I guess what I'm saying is, thanks! Now I know more specifically what I like, I can find them more easily. I guess I've never been able to put my finger on it. I just know I take out a lot of books from the library only to return them unread. So thanks! I appreciate the discussion. Gina




    Hi Gina,

    That's great! Glad we could shed some light on the issue for you.

    I think you might enjoy Haruki Murakami's books. I read Kafka on the Shore last year, and have been recommending it to everyone who'll listen...

    :smileyhappy:
    Jess
    New User
    gis4gucci
    Posts: 6
    Registered: ‎01-24-2008
    0 Kudos

    Re: Magic Realism

    Many thanks for the recommend. I'll pick one of those up today. Looking forward to another good book.

    very best,

    Gina
    Users Online
    Currently online: 42 members 763 guests
    Please welcome our newest community members: