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The Use of Magical Realism in Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate

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Latin American literature is perhaps best known for its use of magical realism, a literary mode where the fantastical is seamlessly blended with the ordinary, creating a sort of enhanced reality. Though magical realism is practiced by authors from other cultures, the works of authors Salman Rushdie and Toni Morrison, for example, are notable examples of non-Latin works in which magical realism has been used to both great effect and great celebration, it is in the works of Latin American authors where the style has flourished and made its mark on the literary world. Yet even in Latin American works we can find many different kinds of magical realism, all used to achieve a different end. In the works of the Cuban poet and novelist…show more content…
Esquivel's novel follows the tradition of magical realism in its purest form and creates a welcome entry into the Latin American canon whereas Borges' stories, most written more than forty years prior to the publication of Esquivel's novel, use magical realism in a much more complex way and ultimately forge a literary tradition of their own. From the very first page of Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate it is clear that the real world in which her characters inhabit shall be greatly exaggerated. When Esquivel's narrator describes Tita as being so sensitive to onions that “when she was still in my great-grandmother's belly her sobs were so loud that even Nacha, the cook, who was half deaf, could hear them easily.” (Esquivel, p. 5) the reader encounters something at once refreshing, as is always the case when one experiences the supernatural where least expected, and yet ancient at the same time. While Esquivel could have attempted to tell her story, really the tale of a (mostly) unrequited love, in a straightforward manner, the casual inclusion of the extraordinary places it immediately in the tradition of magical realism. Esquivel's novel is awash in such images and these might have been jarring to casual English readers had it not followed so closely in the tradition of what is perhaps the most famous and most widely-read work of magical realism, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. Esquivel's novel, like
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