Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Let's Get Real: The Controversy behind Magical Realism

Kayla Greenwell
Monday marked the first official day of National Hispanic Heritage Month, and it just wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t talk about one of the major literary movements that originated in Latin America: Magical Realism. Magical realism mixes elements of the magical into an otherwise mundane setting in film, art, and writing. Perhaps the most well known for mastering this craft is the late Gabriel García Márquez, who passed away on April 17th of this year. 
The world has fallen in love with magical realism. It has been universally influential, and authors from Franz Kafka to Toni Morrison have attempted the genre. Many of these authors have adopted magical realism into their work to give agency to the social, moral, and political issues in their work.  The particularly unique sense of surrealism and mystery that a reader experiences when reading a work of magical realism is indefectible.   
So you may be thinking at this point that I am being a little dramatic.  How can a genre that is so widely accepted be controversial, Kayla? Well, hold on. I’m getting there.  The controversy is not in the genre itself, but in its origin. 
Magical realism started as a movement in Latin America in the 40’s, but the term was actually keyed by a German art critic named Franz Roh in 1925. He used this in a discussion about several paintings that came out at the time. It was only fifteen years later that the magical realism writing movement begin in Latin America.  This has caused some controversy over the years as to whether the tradition of magical realism really belongs to Latin America.  While I can’t solve the controversy, I can honestly say that even if the idea of magical realism did not begin in Latin America, they are certainly the ones who perfected it. Magical realism is near and dear to my heart, and I can’t speak for Mr. Roh, but I think he would hope that no matter where or in what form, that people would enjoy the genre. 
Recommendations for authors of magical realism:
·         Jose Martí
·         Ruben Darío
·         Juan Rulfo
·         Jorge Luis Borges
·         Haruki Murakami
·         Salman Rushdie
·         Franz Kafka
·         Nikolai Gogol

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