The History and Theory of Magical Realism Essay

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The History and Theory of Magical Realism


Fantasy, Magical, Supernatural, Sublime, and Realism are all several genres of literature that may be familiar to many people. However, there may be one that is not as well-known as these: Magical Realism. Although Magical Realism is mostly common in the Latin American countries, one may wonder where and how Magical Realism got its start. On the other hand, one may simply wonder what some of the characteristics of Magical Realism are. By looking at the history and theory of Magical Realism as well as some of its characteristics and influences, these questions will be answered.

Interestingly, the term "Magical Realism" was first used in 1925 by a German art critic, Franz Roh. In his
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Instead, Leal asserts that Arturo Uslar Pietri was the writer who promoted Magical Realism when he used Roh's phrase in describing literature (Leal 120-121). One source even says that it was not until the 1960's that "Magical Realism" had become a term used by both readers and writers ("Magic Realism").

In addition to the disputes about the history of Magical Realism, there is also some dispute as to an exact definition of what Magical Realism is. In reference to art, Roh used the term to describe Post-Expressionistic works that made something ordinary appear to be something extraordinary. Also in reference to art, Angel Flores stated that Magical Realists transform "the common and the everyday into the awesome and the unreal." Therefore, according to Flores, one definition of Magical Realism may be that it is something that crosses between reality and fantasy. Furthermore, in Magical Realism the characters in the story as well as the reader must accept the unreal as being normal (Flores 114-116).

Conversely, Leal defines Magical Realism as an "attitude towards reality that can be expressed in popular or cultured forms" ( Leal 121). Leal would agree more with Roh's statement that Magical Realism discovers the mystery that "hides and palpitates behind it [the world]" (Roh 16). Leal seems to think that Flores' definition of Magical…