Main Magic Realism Discussion

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03:21:20 AM Feb 15th 2017
edited by Luppercus
The Batman: The Animated Series examples do not hold up, at least not in The Ventriloquist example. If you watch the episode carefully it's impossible for the dummy to be a demonic toy. Not only Batman manage to imitate his voice using ventriloquism, he also is actually seen by Scarface when he enters the dummy's room and the toy opens the eyes (as a reflex after Batman touches it) and even so the puppet never says "Hey, Dummy, Batman was here" when the Ventriloquist enters the room. Even more the actual Batcomputer shows the waves of the sound moving with Batman's recording showing two voices when the Ventriloquist speaks (which is not impossible, we all have two groups of vocal cords, Tibetan Lamas learn the trick to using them both and have "two voices") but when the dummy "speaks" only one wave of sound is shown.
03:59:01 PM Apr 14th 2016
edited by VanHohenheimOfXerxes
01:34:31 PM May 2nd 2013
I don't think the Corona Beer example counts. It's just a way for them to say that drinking their beer will make you feel like you're on a beach no matter where you are.
12:46:19 AM Sep 11th 2012
Here's something: I was just served this name as a Captcha of sorts.
12:24:46 AM Jan 8th 2012
Quoted from the article

"Also a helpful guideline (again, just a guideline, not a rule): with fantasy, often a character finds out the Broken Masquerade. However, everybody is the protagonist in their own story; what about the random Muggle who saw something really strange, but never gets an explanation? Well, that Muggle just got the point of view in Magical Realism. There may very well be vampires and wizards doing what they do, but the Masquerade is upheld. What's a Muggle to do after seeing a guy Immune to Bullets? Well, go about his life and do his thing of course. After all, magic doesn't exist, right? This is the essence of this genre."

Ok uh. There are no hard and fast rules about Magical Realism, just like any genre. Genre's shift, take on new meaning, aquire and discard tropes over time. I understand this. They're difficult to pin down (I've taken a couple of classes on genre, yes entire classes on just genre). Yet this paragraph really does go against the general (literary) study of the genre of Magical Realism. One of the hallmarks of the genre is that events are genuinely believed and accepted. There are books about how it's primarily limited to cultures which believe in the supernatural (ie: NOT AMERICANS, or Europeans for that matter or anyone fully immersed in sciencism).

To say it bluntly, there are people who honestly believe that events in 100 Years of Solitude are REAL. To them it's not fiction. This is why magical realism was once believed to be a purely South American phenomenon because only that culture really believes in it; although Gabriel Garcia Marquez knows he bends the truth in his writing, it's still a cultural belief in the supernatural that he comes from. Marquez even talks about how his grandmother used to tell him stories exactly like those told in 100 Years of Solitude and he had to write the book as if he also believed.

We also accept many works by people with history of voodoo culture (such as African Americans) as being capable of writing Magical Realism because their culture isn't very far separated from the honest belief in the supernatural. As are some southeast asian cultures and countries like Japan (I think it would be awesome to write a book detailing the connection between Magical Realism and anime). Of course a writer who only believes in science can write however they want and examples of Magical Realism from ordinary writers from Europe and the United States are starting to be seen.

So to include a paragraph like the above is, in my opinion OPPOSED to the concept of Magical Realism. Unless everyone believes in what's going on around them it breaks the illusion. If a 'muggle' as it were, saw something extraordinary and questioned 'how did that happen?' it's no longer magical realism.

Neither the narrator, nor the characters, should ever contradict the magic.
02:11:41 PM Jan 11th 2013
Yeah, I'm a bit concerned about this. It appears that TV Tropes has isolated a narrow sub-genre of urban fantasy and slapped the label of Magic Realism onto it, getting just about everything that actually applies to Magic Realism wrong.

Take the "rule of thumb" that is given, vampires in New York:
  • "If the cover gets blown and the protagonists spend a lot of time with vampires, either taking evil ones down, incorporating them into romance stories, etc. it's Urban Fantasy."

Fine so far.

  • "If a cop's partner is very pale, very strong, generally acts odd, and come to think of it, he's never been seen in daylight, but the story focuses primarily on just a Police Procedural or the interpersonal relationships, it's Magical Realism."

NO. That is still Urban Fantasy, it is just Urban Fantasy of a subtler variety. The author feels like being cute, so the fantastic elements come in small details that the reader can either pick up on or miss, depending on how much attention they are paying.

  • "If the cop just goes through his life as a cop, but his partner is a vampire, is greeted with "Hi, Mr. vampire!" by cheerful little children in the street, and casually drinks blood in plain sight out of transfusion packs during coffee breaks, it's a case of Mundane Fantastic."

THIS is the closest the article gets to actually describing Magic Realism. The fantastic elements are SO MUCH a natural part of the world of the novel, that it is as though the author doesn't even expect the reader to find them strange. It is more about Tone than anything else:

In a fantasy novel, a woman spontaneously ascending to heaven while hanging laundry is presented as something that, while possible in the novel's particular setting, is still a striking image that the reader should take notice of. When it happens in One Hundred Years of Solitude, Garcia Marquez just moves on to the next paragraph. After all, what did you expect? Such things happen all the time.

This article: [] and comment number 7 below it, by the article's author, may help with the distinction.

As it stands, Magic Realism article needs to be completely rewritten, and some sort of rewrite/merge/purge needs to be done between it and the Mundane Fantastic article. Unfortunately, both are pretty entrenched, with a huge number of examples in each, so it will be a big job.
05:46:49 PM Sep 24th 2017
Agreed. The defining feature of magical realism is that there are wide open holes in the wall between reality and metaphor. Some events are presented normally, some are exaggerated beyond realism, and some are wholly symbolized, but they're all presented as ordinary events.
02:08:25 AM Apr 19th 2011
edited by
Clarification: The magical events in "magical realism" are fraught with symbolic significance.

The "magic" of the setting is not usually controlled by its characters. It is not really a technological solution for the characters. It's an phenomenon in their world that acts as a symbolic shorthand for the psychology and development of the characters. To the audience, it appears fantastic, but it's purpose in the plot isn't simply the novelty factor.

M. Night's Shamalan's "The Village" is an excellent example. The monsters in the movie are literally thought to be supernatural abominations who inexplicably attack the village. They are spoken of in hushed tones and people hide when they're out-and-about. Everybody acts and believes as if this "magic" were real. It's indicative of their superstitious and fearfully primitive worldview. It's only at the end that it's revealed that the monsters were really just the elders in rubber masks who were running a conspiracy. It's all an illusion.

The "unmasking" isn't necessary since the whole point is that the magical thing going on can be taken literally for the purposes of the narrative. (And the whole scenario was probably a metaphor to drive home a bit of political commentary on Shamalan's part.)

Let me explain by another example. If a woman is a Christian who believes in angels, then a story about her would literally include all the events where miracles, angels and Satan are literally true to her and interact with her. It is *actually* an explanation that if she is tempted then Satan would literally show up to bargain with her. God would literally speak to her or perhaps an angel my pop on by to have tea. Usually, these events will punctuate some significant evolution of her character or otherwise reveal her mentality. It isn't really important whether *you* believe these things, so much as that it is an accepted part of *her* story.

In Kafka's Metamorphosis, we accept the protagonist's transformation as literally real. But it also acts as a metaphor for a terminal disease, deformity or stigma which is being hidden away by a family who is too embarrassed to let him out into polite company. It's about the decay of a man who is dying by inches — both socially and psychologically.
10:08:29 PM Jan 3rd 2011
I'd like to add this story as an example but I'm not sure if it fits or not. Can someone else confirm for me?
07:19:08 PM Aug 25th 2010
Before the 20th Century, Latin American Literary Classics were usually examples of Naturalism, which is completely the opposite of Magical Realism- it's about focusing on stark reality to the point of showing life as a Crapsack World. Should this be mentioned in the article?
07:37:22 AM Jun 16th 2010
Tweaked the paragraph on the rule "to distinguish magic realism from fantasy," since settings in which magic "just happens" are quite common in older fantasy works. Hence, I thought it was more apt to say that this rule distinguishes magic realism from other types of fantasy (i.e., types in which magic does not just happen).
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