Magical Realism (MR) explores the paradox of the union of opposites within the plot/narrative and through characters. Magical realism is characterized by two conflicting perspectives, one based on a rational view of reality and the other on the acceptance of the supernatural as prosaic reality.
Unlike fantasy, including urban fantasy, Magical Realism is set in the usual modern world where average Janes & Joes go about their daily life. What makes MR so intriguing to so many readers (and writers) is the ability explore a worldview where the natural, physical laws of the universe are not the only plausible explanation for events in the story (or in real life, for that matter). Fantastical elements are weaved into the narrator’s voice and the normal perception of characters within the plot. While the reader realizes that the rational and irrational are conflicting polarities, they are not disconcerted because the author has established the mystical/ metaphysical/ fantastical within the context of the natural or ordinary world.
- time is not linear,
- causality is subjective,
- and the magical and the ordinary are one and the same
Holland Rogers also distinguishes MR from fantasy and other speculative and “escapist” reading pursuits: “magical realism is always serious, never escapist, because it is trying to convey the reality of one or several worldviews that actually exist, or have existed. Magical realism is a kind of realism, but one different from the realism that most [people] of our culture now experience.” For example, in the image above: The acrobat falls through swirling prismatic light, but unlike Alice, she doesn’t land in some hidden world. She falls, she survives and is somehow unharmed yet in falling the experience exposes a worldview that parallels the ordinary and is intricately woven into it. How so, what it means is all open to the writer’s imagination.
Authors Who Write Magical Realism
- Paul Corso
- Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)
- Aimee Bender
- Salman Rushdie
- Sara Addison Allen (Garden Spells)
- Joanne Harris (Chocolat — film starred Johnny depp)
- Audrey Niffengger (Time Traveler’s Wife)
Share Your Thoughts
- Who’s your favorite Mystical/ Magical Realism Author? Your Favorite book?
- Have you found other descriptions of MR? Share your wisdom and sources.