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Lydia Lim

on 27 May 2015

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Main Question
Can a look at the origins and evolution of magical storytelling reveal how Magical Realism may be better at addressing conflicts of identity than other modern genres of fiction?

Examples of Magic Realism in Film and the Novel.

The Scholarly Viewpoint
Magical Realism and Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Presented by Cari, Lydia, Caitlin, and Nick
Discussion Time!

Scholars have noted that magic realism has had a long history over the decades leading up to its current evolutionary form. Magic realism tends to be a genre that people either love or hate, with not much in the way of middle ground. Where do you stand on magic realism: do you like the genre, and if so do you think that the genre is more effective at handling certain thematic elements as opposed to other genres?
How have scholars formed the genre?
* The term 'magic realism' was first credited as being coined by Franz Roh in 1925
* Roh was a German literary critic and coined the term in his essay titled "Magic Realism: Post-Expressionism" (from the first English translation)
Works Cited
"Gabriel García Márquez." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 24 Sep. 2014.

Gaiman, Neil, and Dave McKean. Coraline. New York: HarperCollins, 2002. Print.

Lowry, Lois. The Giver. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993. Print.

Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings." A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2014.

Rushdie, Salman. Midnight's Children:. New York: Knopf, 1981. Print.

"Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" author unknown

Tolkien, J.R.R. "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" The Monsters and the Critics & Other Essays.

Tolkien, J.R.R. "On Fairy Stories" Tree and Leaf

Zamora, Lois Parkinson., and Wendy B. Faris. Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1995. Print.

...the new art does not belong to the series of initial
artistic phases that includes Expressionism. It is a
movement of decantation and clarification that
was fortunate enough to find right at the start
an almost exhausted artistic revolution that had
begun to discover new avenues [...] The future will tell
- Franz Roh (32)
Magical Storytelling
From Myths to Fairy Tales
The goal of this post-World War I art was a new definition of the object, clinically dissected, coldly accentuated, microscopically delineated. Over-exposed, isolated, rendered from an uncustomary angle, the familiar became unusual [...] which elicited fear and wonder
." -
Irene Guenther
- "traditional prose narratives ... considered to be truthful accounts of what happened in the remote past. Typically, they deal with the activities of gods and demigods, the creation of the world and its inhabitants, and the origins of religious rituals."
The Study of American Folklore
image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egyptian_creation_myths
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
image: https://coursewikis.fas.harvard.edu/aiu18/Sir_Gawain_and_the_Green_Knight
Image: http://www.strangehistory.net/2011/03/05/the-problem-of-pygmy-fairies/
Image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Red_Riding_Hood

"The tone that I eventually used in
One Hundred Years of Solitude
was based on the way
my grandmother used to tell stories. She told things that sounded supernatural or fantastic, but she told them with complete naturalness ....
what was most important was the expression she had on her face. She did not change her expression at all when telling her stories and everyone was surprised. In previous attempts to write,
I tried to tell the story without believing in it. I discovered that what I had to do was believe in them myself, and write them with the same expression with which my grandmother told them: with a brick face."

Gabriel Garcia Marquez
"Yes! 'wish-fulfillment dreams' we spin to cheat
our timid hearts and ugly Fact defeat!
Whence came the wish, and whence the power to dream
or some things fair and others ugly deem?"

Mythopoeia from Tree and Leaf
J.R.R. Tolkien
What are "fairy stories according to Tolkien?
And who is meant to read them?

“If fairy-story as a kind is worth reading at all it is worthy
to be written for and read by adults.”

“It is one of the properties of Fairy Story thus to enlarge the scene and the actors; or rather it is one of the properties that are distilled by literary alchemy when old deep-rooted stories are rehandled by a real poet with an imagination of his own.” (83)
“Most good fairy-stories are about the adventures of men in the Perilous Realm or upon its shadowy marches.” (122)

“The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords.” (116).
Dirty realism
Literary space: an
Rawdon Wilson
Magic realism is more effective than other genres in addressing conflicts of identity because it attempts to unite opposite realities, characters, nations, and ideas by blending reality with non-reality in a way that allows the two to exist simultaneously and in harmony without being questioned or doubted.
A Very Old Man With
Enormous Wings
Its aim, unlike that of magic, is to express emotions, not to evoke them. [...] In magical realism the writer confronts reality and tries to untangle it, to discover what is mysterious in things, in life, in human acts
." -
Luis Leal
“What's your name,' Coraline asked the cat. 'Look, I'm Coraline. Okay?'
'Cats don't have names,' it said.
'No?' said Coraline.
'No,' said the cat. 'Now you people have names. That's because you don't know who you are. We know who we are, so we don't need names.”

“For a moment she felt utterly dislocated. She did not know where she was; she was not entirely sure who she was. It is astonishing just how much of what we are can be tied to the bed we wake up in in the morning and it is astonishing how fragile that can be.”
“The names are the first things to go, after the breath has gone, and the beating of the heart. We keep our memories longer than our names.”
Neil Gaiman, Coraline
"Jonas wasn’t interested, just then, in wisdom. It was the colors that fascinated him. “Why can’t everyone see them? Why did colors disappear?” The Giver shrugged. “Our people made that choice, the choice to go to Sameness. Before my time, before the previous time, back and back and back. We relinquished color when we relinquished sunshine and did away with differences.” He thought for a moment. “We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others."
"...how could you describe a hill and snow to someone who had never felt height or wind or that feathery, magical cold?"
“Reality is a question of perspective; the further you get from the past, the more concrete and plausible it seems - but as you approach the present, it inevitably seems more and more incredible. Suppose yourself in a large cinema, sitting at first in the back row, and gradually moving up, row by row, until your nose is almost pressed against the screen. Gradually the stars' faces dissolve into dancing grain; tiny details assume grotesque proportions; the illusion dissolves - or rather, it becomes clear that the illusion itself is reality.”
“PLEASE BELIEVE that I am falling apart. I am not speaking metaphorically; nor is this the opening gambit of some melodramatic, riddling, grubby appeal for pity. I mean quite simply that I have begun to crack all over like an old jug—that my poor body, singular, unlovely, buffeted by too much history, subjected to drainage above and drainage below, mutilated by doors, brained by spittoons, has started coming apart at the seams. In short, I am literally disintegrating, slowly for the moment, although there are signs of acceleration. I ask you only to accept (as I have accepted) that I shall eventually crumble into (approximately) six hundred and thirty million particles of anonymous, and necessarily oblivious, dust.”
Pan's Labyrinth
“I told you the truth... Memory's truth, because memory has its own special kind. It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimizes, glorifies, and vilifies also; but in the end it creates its own reality, its heterogeneous but usually coherent version of events; and no sane human being ever trusts someone else's version more than his own.”
Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children
As you have seen in seen in these examples, magic realism often uses themes such history and memory to unite what is reality and what is perceived as reality in an effort to reveal true identity. Do you think that these tools are effective in presenting magic realism in a way that focuses on the conflicts within identity?

-Preeminent writer of magical realism

-Stylistics influenced by his

Marquez's Style of Magical Realism
-Blends reality and fantasy
-Magical aspect is never questioned

Conflicts with Identity
-Foreignness- the "Other"

"They looked at him so long and so closely that Pelayo and Elisenda very soon overcame their surprise and in the end found him familiar. Then they dared speak to him, and he answered in an incomprehensible dialect with a strong sailor’s voice. That was how they skipped over the inconvenience of the wings and quite intelligently concluded that he was a lonely castaway from some foreign ship wrecked by the storm" (Marquez)
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