The way my grandmother used to tell stories

Magical Realism
Like many Latin American writers, Gabriel García Márquez has been inextricably linked to a style of literature known as "magical realism." Literature of this type is usually characterized by elements of the fantastic woven into the story with a deadpan sense of presentation. The term is not without a lot of controversy, however, and has come under attack for numerous reasons. Some claim that it is a postcolonial hangover, a category used by "whites" to marginalize the fiction of the "other." Others claim that it is a passé literary trend, or just a way to cash in on the Latin American "boom." Still others feel the term is simply too limiting, and acts to remove the fiction in question from the world of serious literature.
I myself feel that the term is a bit limiting, and I try to avoid overusing it on the pages of Macondo. Nevertheless, it seems to be here to stay, and it's more or less unavoidable that it will emerge in any discussion of García Márquez and his fiction. For this reason, I present this page, a joint collaboration between Macondo and Margin, an online magazine devoted to exploring magical realism. The purpose of this page is simply to point interested readers in the direction of resources dealing with magical realism.
For those who truly want to explore the subject, I suggest you click the Margin banner at the bottom of this page. Margin is a wonderful resource, containing information on magical realism, the authors that write in the vein, and links to many online 'Zines that feature new MR fiction.


The following is an adaptation from M.H. Abrams' A Glossary of Literary Terms, 6th ed. (Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1993) as cited by Dr. Robert P. Fletcher of West Chester University.

The term magic realism, originally applied in the 1920s to a school of painters, is used to describe the prose fiction of Jorge Luis Borges in Argentina, as well as the work of writers such as Gabriel García Márquez in Colombia, Gunter Grass in Germany, and John Fowles in England.  These writers interweave, in an ever-shifting pattern, a sharply etched realism in representing ordinary events and descriptive details together with fantastic and dreamlike elements, as well as with materials derived from myth and fairy tales.  Robert Scholes has popularized metafiction as an overall term for the large and growing class of novels which depart drastically from the traditional categories either of realism or romance, and also the term fabulation for the current mode of free-wheeling narrative invention.  These novels violate, in various ways, standard novelistic expectations by drastic -- and sometimes highly effective -- experiments with subject matter, form, style, temporal sequence, and fusions of the everyday, the fantastic, the mythical, and the nightmarish, in renderings that blur traditional distinctions between what is serious or trivial, horrible or ludicrous, tragic or comic.


Margin -- An online magazine devoted to exoploring magical realism.

Margin Magical Realism Links -- The ultimate page of links to magical realism-related resources!

Selected Sites

Magical Realism Overview -- Lindsay Moore offers this concise overview of the style.

The Magical Realism Page -- Evelyn Leeper's thorough examination, spawned from extensive online chat about the subject.

Magic Realism: A Problem -- This essay by David Mullan is a concise explanation as to why the term is problematic in postcolonial theory.


New! Janus Head 5.2 -- The Fall 2002 issue of Janus Head is entirely devoted to magical realism, and contains numerous papers on the subject.

Binarisms and Duality: Magic Realism and Postcolonialism -- Written by Suzanne Baker for Murdoch University/SPAN, this paper further discusses the problematic nature of the term.

Magical Realism as a Postcolonial Device in Midnight's Children -- Nicholas Stewart looks at Salman Rushdie.


Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community -- A site supporting the book of the same name. Margin recommends this work very highly.

--Allen B. Ruch &
Tamara Kaye Sellman,
Editor of Margin
2 June 2003

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