Magic Realism

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Magic Realism




Magic Realism appeared as a critical term for the arts and it later extended to literature. The term was first used by the German critic Franz Roh in 1925 to characterize a group of Post-Expressionist painters. Franz Roh described it as a form in which “our real world re-emerges before our eyes, bathed in the clarity of a new day.” It was later replaced by “New Objectivity.”
Magic Realism survived to define a narrative tendency in Latin America during 1949 to 1970. It can be defined as a preoccupation or interest in showing something common or daily into something unreal or strange. A magic realist narrator creates the illusion of “unreality,” faking the escape from the natural, and tells an action that even if appears as explainable it comes across as strange. In strange narration’s, instead of presenting something as real, the writers reality becomes magical. The writer suggests a supernatural atmosphere without denying the natural, and the style is distorting the reality. The intention of the narrator is to provoke strange feeling. The explanations are not clear or logical. There also is no innuendo or psychological analysis of the characters, instead they are well defined almost in opposition, and never appear confused or surprised about the supernatural. Gabrial Garcia Marques says for him it is the supernatural and the natural peacefully co-existing and showing themselves through magic realism. It is the encounter of strangeness and familiarity.
During colonization, Europeans found a land full of strange and supernatural things and their records were based on their interpretations which lead to a uncertainty of Latin America. Gabriel Garcia Marquez in the Conferencia Nobel 1982 (the year in which he was awarded the Nobel Prize): “La Soledad de America Latina”, tells of a Florentine sailor named Antonio Pigafetta who wrote about his expeditions around the world. This sailor described strange creatures, which many can be found today, but his interpretation created a supernatural rendition of Latin America in the European point of view. Overall, Latin American culture is a combination of many other cultures that came during colonization.
Garcia Marquez, born into poverty studied law and journalism at the National University
of Colombia in Bogota, and at the University of Cartagena. He began his career as a journalist, and demonstrated a unique interest in cinema and dedicated much of his early career to film criticism. Garcia Marquez began writing short stories in the late 1940s. His first major publication was “La hojarasca.” In this story, Marquez describes the first fictional Colombian village of Macondo--the setting of much of his later work--and the combination of realism and fantasy characteristic of his style. His early journalistic writings clearly reflect his fascination with William Faulkner.
Garcia Marquez’s Monologue of “Isabel Watching it Rain in Macondo” offers us an example of the dangers of the “authoritarian nature of technological systems” and an example of the ways in which political and cultural systems are shaped by technology. “Then it rained. And the sky was a gray, jellyish substance that flapped it’s wings a hand away from our heads” is a form of magic realism described in his short story. Garcia Marquez carries out his distortion of direct historical time through the internal monologues that record the narrators’ thoughts, and through the complex effect of many monologues. The extent of the narrators’ structure of social and historical reference differs significantly, and is almost immediately outlined by their reactions to the first historical sign, the sound of the train’s horn, which marks 2:30. Garcia Marquez employs to overturn the passage of time at the level of the stories structure. The reader must read backwards and forwards at once in order to locate all of the emphasis of a strain and establish the relative historical order of the monologues in which they appear. It is remarkable over the family setting and the weather with the new season. The narrator and the family in this short story seem to be the upper class and the Indians as the servants. The second extravagant image comes when the narrator and her stepmother are talking about having the Indians put the flowerpots on the veranda “and that was what they did, while the rain grew like an immense tree over the other trees.” Everyone is down due to all of the rain as the narrator talks about her father’s eyes being “lost in the labrynth of the rain.” Giving a demoning presence, their house was soon flooded “the floor covered by a thick surface of viscious, dead water.” Everywhere things were getting worse especially when the water got to the cemetary and broke open tombs having dead bodies being washed away. This is definitely a demoning presence. My interpretation of the story is that it was all a dream this girl was having compiled of nothing more than Garcia’s work of magic realism.
As a critic, Mike Gonzalez takes about Gabrial Garcia Marquez’s work. “It would be easy to see Marquez as a kind of folklorist trying to rediscover a lost world of rural innocence, some kind of ‘dream time’ long since lost. And it is true that his work is full of extraordinary events: beautiful girls with long green hair, others who levitate to their deaths amid clouds of butterflies, tattooed boys with enormous sexual longevity, doctors who eat grass. Perhaps they were all part of his grandmother’s repertoire of legends, myths and magical recipes. Yet they are not simply nostalgic fantasies that belong to a distant past: they are responses to a reality which is also present in all of Marquez’s work.” Through my research on Marquez, I have learned a lot about his work and I agree with the way Mike Gonzalez critically analyzed his work. Marquez is fascinated with this world of magic.
Earnest Gains, another magnificent writer is a native of Louisiana. He won the National Book Critics Circle Award for the novel, “A Lesson Before Dying.” On top of many other awards, novels, and short stories, Gaines served in the United States Army from 1953 to 1955. He received a bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State College and also did graduate work at Stanford University. In 1984, he began teaching at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. As Gaines has said:
“Though the places in my stories and novels are imaginary one’s, they are based pretty much on the place where I grew up and the surrounding areas where I worked, went to school and traveled as a child. My characters speak the way people speak in that area. They do the work that people do there. Since most of my writing is about rural Louisiana, my characters are closely attached to the land.”
As written in the first person, “I was not there, yet I was there. No, I did not go to the trial, I did not hear the verdict, because I knew all the time what it would be . . . . . .” So begins Grant Wiggins, the narrator of Ernest Gaines’s powerful exploration of race, injustice and resistance in “A Lesson Before Dying.” Though Grant is the narrator from chapters 1-28 and also 31, chapters 29 and 30 very greatly. Chapter 29 covers Jefferson’s prison diaries and the last weeks of his life and chapter 30 gives different members of the community a chance to give their points of view on Jefferson’s death sentence. “These strategic shifts work to create a more comprehensive view than a single narrative angle. They detail Grant’s frustration as he struggles with emotional demands he would rather avoid, and they avoid stereotypical community responses on execution day.”
A young black man named Jefferson is being accused on murdering a liquor store owner, and two black men. He pleads that he is not guilty of the crime everyone thinks he has committed.
University educated, Grant has returned to the tiny plantation town of his youth, where the only job available to him is teaching in the small plantation church school. Grant is trapped in a career he does not enjoy, angered by the injustice he sees all around him, he dreams of taking his girlfriend Vivian and leaving Louisiana forever. But, when Jefferson is convicted and sentenced to die, his grandmother, Miss Emma, and Grants Aunt, Tante-Lou beg Grant for one last favor, to teach Jefferson to die like a man. What was worse than having to deal with his aunt and Miss Emma, Reverend Ambrose wants Grant to reassure the death row prisoner about Heaven something Grant is no longer able to believe in. In Grants response:
“Everything you sent me to school for, you're stri

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