The incantation of Magic Realism

The literary genre of magic realism gained ground in the 20th century. It is mostly associated with Latin-American literature. The term is composed of two words- magic and realism- and is a blend of the two. So what does the term mean?

In magic realism, the magical and real worlds overlap. Often, fantastical elements are incorporated into real-life settings. Gabriel García Márquez, the noted magic-realist writer, himself confessed, “My most important problem was destroying the line of demarcation that separates what seems real from what seems fantastic.” Unlike fantasy, magic-realism is not detached from reality, and instead, uses magic in order to intensify the impact of harsh reality on the readers. García Márquez once said that he gives his readers a ‘magnifying glass’ so that they can understand reality better. Yes, this magnifying glass is magic-realism, a tool that offers a better look at truth.

Courtesy: Pexels

This technique of literature weaves magical elements into the story in such a realistic way that it becomes difficult to point out the exact line between magic and reality. The innate fantasy is normalized and does not appear odd or distinct. Fantastic traits may be allotted to characters. This blending of the supernatural world into the familiar world is often done to portray modern political realities, and as a criticism against society’s dominant groups. Most works of this genre do not follow a linear time structure or a typical plot advancement. Unfurling multiple planes of reality, it tries to discover the ‘marvelous real’-a term coined by the Cuban author Alejo Carpentier- which is not exactly beautiful or pleasant, but rather extraordinary and strange.

In Latin American literature- Jorge Luis Borges, Isabel Allende, and Nobel Laureate Gabriel García Márquez are the major magic-realist writers. In English literature, Salman Rushdie is its most well known exponent. Nabarun Bhattacharya, Akhteruzzaman Elias, and Syed Waliullah are authors of this genre in Bengali literature. Haruki Murakami is a prominent magic-realist author in Japanese literature.

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