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What is Magical Realism in Literature?

What is Magical Realism in Literature?

In the early 20th century, a Latin American literary movement called "magical realism" emerged. The ...
What is Experimental fiction?

What is Experimental fiction?

When we take a book and sit down to read, we will be having certain preoccupied notions and general ...
Top 6 Experimental Novels by Famous Novelists

Top 6 Experimental Novels by Famous Novelists

Most ancient and modern literature focuses on the tone of writing rather than its content. When you ...

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What is Magical Realism in Literature?

How is Magic Realism Different From fantasy?

Best Slipstream Books

What is Experimental fiction?

Top 6 Experimental Novels by Famous Novelists

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What is Magical Realism in Literature?

What is Magical Realism in Literature?

How is Magic Realism Different From fantasy?

How is Magic Realism Different From fantasy?

Best Slipstream Books

Best Slipstream Books

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What is Magical Realism in Literature?

Magical Realism

In the early 20th century, a Latin American literary movement called “magical realism” emerged. The term was coined by German art critic Franz Roh, who used it to describe paintings by European artists Georges Rouault and Max Ernst.

These painters illustrated scenes from daily life that were filled with fantastic elements, such as ghosts or monsters, to express their spiritual concerns and fears. In this way, they could reveal something more profoundly deeper about our reality than mere physical appearances could convey on their own.

Fiction Writing

Magical Realism is a Genre of Fiction Writing, Specifically within the Novel Genre

Magical realism is a literary genre and form of fiction, often characterized by blending the fantastic and the everyday. Magical realist novels are usually placed in the same category as allegory, fantasy, fables, folklore, legends and mythic fiction because they all tell an incredible story through believable characters.

Magical realism is distinct from science fiction because it does not focus on technology or futuristic gadgets as much as it does on emotions and human life experiences within a given world that may or may not be parallel to ours. he

Described as Being Part of the Postmodern Movement

The movement of magical realism is also often described as being part of the postmodern movement. Postmodernism is a movement that began in the 1960s and 1970s, and it’s generally seen as a reaction to modernism.

In contrast to its predecessor, postmodernism is characterized by its use of irony and parody; it attempts to break away from rigid rules set by previous authors.

Magical Realism Mixes “Magical” Elements  with Realistic Elements and Characters

In magical realism, characters inhabit a world that is not quite like ours. This can happen in several ways: magical or fantastical events occur without explanation; the setting of the story is mysterious and unusual, or the characters are ordinary people who are caught up in extraordinary circumstances.

Magical Realism

These elements combine to create an atmosphere where readers are often left to decide whether they’re reading about “real life” or something otherworldly.

The best way to learn how to write this kind of book is by studying examples of it from writers who have mastered the form—like Gabriel García Márquez and Alice Hoffman (two authors whose work I highly recommend).

Magical realism has been taken up in many forms of art, but it has remained most prominent in the literature. For example, you can find magical realism in music (such as the work of Frank Zappa), art (such as Magritte’s paintings) and film (such as Fellini’s work).

Just as there are many forms of magical realism, there are also many ways to approach reading this genre. Readers can choose from plenty of books that break down the basics of magical realism in literary terms, or they can go more experientially with a book that offers readings on how it works for individual works. And if one isn’t enough for you, well, maybe we just found your next book club read!

How is Magic Realism Different From fantasy?

Magic Realism

If you are a voracious reader who reads different styles of literature, then you might have come across the term magic realism. You might be familiar with the works of authors like Gabriel Garcia Marques or Jorge Luis Borges and might have seen how they have effortlessly added the element of fantasy to reality.

But if you are a person who is hearing the term ‘magic-realism’ for the first time, you may confuse it with fantasy. You can look into this guide to understand the difference between magic realism and fantasy.

What is Magic realism?

Magic realism is a genre of literature that depicts the real world but uses elements of fantasy or magic. Here the world will be situated in a real world where elements of magic are considered very normal. The world of magic realism blurs the difference between magic and reality.

Characters of magic realism

You can look into these features of magic realism to understand it better.

Realistic setting

One of the main features of magic realism is that the novel will be set in a realistic place that all the readers will be familiar with.

Element of Magic

Even though they are set in a realistic world, readers will be able to find elements of magic or fantasy. You can find supernatural creatures dead creatures or telepathic powers.

Response to the unrealistic elements

Another feature of magic realism is how characters respond to the element of fantasy. The characters will respond to these unrealistic things around them in a very normal way. Compared to other genres of fiction that separate fantasy from reality, magic realism blurs the line between fantasy and reality. The characters will respond to these unrealistic events quite naturally as if that is very common.

Limited information

Unlike fiction where they will widely explain the fantasy world, in magic realism the author will give limited information about the elements of magic. By leaving those elements of magic unexplained, the readers will feel that they are normal and is a part of everyday life.

For instance, in the novel Midnight children by Salman Rushdie, the boy born at midnight on the day India got independence has telepathic power. Even though there are elements of imagination, we feel it is natural.

Limited information

Critique

Most of the time, the author uses magic realism to critique society. This genre is developed in Latin America where people were oppressed and exploited by Western World. They used Magic realism to comment on this exploitation.

Fantasy takes the readers to a world that is unreal with unreal characters. For instance, the world that is depicted in the famous trilogy The Lord of the Rings which is filled with elves and dwarfs is the best example of fantasy. But in magic realism, you will not be able to distinguish between reality and fantasy as they are intelligently woven into each other.

 

Best Slipstream Books

Slipstream Books

Slipstream fiction has been referred to as ‘the fiction of weirdness or strangeness’ or a style of writing that, by casting aspersions on some aspects of reality. Slipstream may be prophetic, erratic, peculiar, or mystical. It is a more comprehensive idea that incorporates magical realism, not magical realism itself. It takes inspiration from science fiction, mythology, or thriller to amaze readers who aren’t prepared for such things in their ostensibly typical novel. Here are some engaging and thrilling slipstream fiction recommendations.

Beloved

Beloved by Toni Morrisson is a must-read masterpiece for lovers of mystery and strangeness in their novels. It centers on Sethe, an Ohio-based fugitive from slavery. She is followed there by the spirit of her infant. This book’s ghost element, which is suspenseful and chock-full of surprising revelations, stands out as a prime sample of a slipstream novel. The narrative follows Sethe’s thoughts as she insists that slaying her infant was a loving deed. In Beloved, the physical, mental, and spiritual destruction caused by slavery is explored. Even after the protagonists have achieved freedom, this destruction haunts them.

Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas

Still, David Mitchell’s most well-known book is a time-traveling and space-traveling novel about virtuous choices.  This book jumps from a journey across the Pacific Ocean in the 1850s, a juvenile islander at the demise of civilization, and many more interesting themes. They are all connected by strands of genealogy and generational trauma. This book investigates the universal themes that span both time and blood. The novel explores the connections between seemingly unrelated people, the way their lives are intertwined, and how their emotions move through time like clouds.

Ice

In Anna Kavan’s Ice, which is set in an ice-covered universe, an unnamed protagonist scours the snowy landscape in search of a “glass girl” with shining silver hair. One man desperately looks for his beloved in the growing turmoil, hoping to save her. With its cautions against tyranny and climate change, the 1967 novel has gained popularity and grown more foreboding. It also serves as an analogy for Kavan’s personal struggles with addiction, giving the story a surreal feel. The work draws heavily on Kavan’s vast travels, her wedding to an artist, and her miserable childhood.

The Mount

Carol Emshwiller, the author, was motivated to create The Mount after taking a course on the psychology and nature of prey species. Like his father, Charley aspires to be the world’s fastest runner. He wants to compete and earn medals. The Earth has unfortunately been overtaken by alien invaders known as The Hoots. Charley is a mount who resides in a stable; he is not a runner. He must first join the movement and rebel against his captors if he is to pursue his aspirations or even his humanity.

What is Experimental fiction?

Experimental Fiction

When we take a book and sit down to read, we will be having certain preoccupied notions and general expectations about the book. For instance, if you are reading romance fiction, you will unconsciously expect a happily ever after ending. Or you will be expecting the book to be divided into chapters and paragraphs.

We might have often heard people saying one should not expect anything in life. But human beings are ambitious. They always expect and get disappointed when they do not get the desired output. Even while reading a book, we tend to expect something from it and often feel disappointed when it does not match that expectation.

Like our life, certain books are set to break all the norms and conventions. They may break the genre norm or may differ in the way they are presented. Such literature is known as experimental as they defy all the general standards and rules.

How do experimental novels bend the norms?

When it comes to fiction, we may expect certain conventions like a character that is good and for whom we can root. We may look for a story with a plot and a proper structure with a clear beginning and end. We also expect a good narrative cycle that will pull the readers into the world of fiction. We also prefer the language to follow some conventions like syntax rules, punctuation, and margin. But experimental fiction defies one or many of these expected notions.

experimental novels

In experimental fiction, most of the characters may be portrayed in negative shades and the readers may not even find a single character with whom they can connect.

Also, instead of following a fixed plotline, the writer may just digress from the plot and continue with their rambling, making the story incoherent.

Another feature of a novel or fiction is that it will immerse us into the fictional world of its protagonist. But in an experimental novel, you won’t be able to do it. If you are getting pulled into the story, the writer may address you directly, reminding you that you are just a reader.

The scope of innovation is not limited to the plot in an experimental novel. The writer may even play with the syntax, altering the meaning in numerous ways. You may even encounter blank pages or texts that are written in different styles and fonts.

For instance, the novel Monster by Walter Dean Myers is written in screenplay format. In the novel, the protagonist who is arrested for a murder case wants to become a filmmaker. Therefore the entire novel is written in screenplay format. As the story movies forward, Steve starts to write his experience in screenplay format, which makes it difficult to distinguish facts from fiction.

If you want to take a break from the norms and want to challenge yourself, then pull one of the experimental novels and break the conventions.

 

Top 6 Experimental Novels by Famous Novelists

Experimental Novels

Most ancient and modern literature focuses on the tone of writing rather than its content. When you set out to read a particular book, the tone of writing defines its genre. Based on the genre, you will have some expectations from the book. However, some novelists break conventional writing rules and play with different writing styles. Such literature is called ‘experimental literature’, and the writers are called experimental novelists.

Here are the top 6 books that follow the style of experimental literature, which people of all age groups can enjoy.

Telegrams of the Soul by Peter Altenberg

Altenberg’s collection of mini-essays is surreal and gets the reader hooked to their seats with exciting styles and textures in his essays. Since his collection of books was released in 1890, it has a slightly medieval touch that can be enjoyed by many.

Telegrams of the Soul

The Lulu Plays by Frank Wedekind

This novel was published in 1894, with two separate parts and five stunning acts. He writes about Lulu, an inexperienced, murderous prostitute waiting for freedom. This novel comprises some of the literature’s baffling murder scenes with a high emotional intensity that can touch its readers’ sympathetic nerves.

The Other House by Henry James

This book was published in 1896 by Henry James, one of the season’s famous experimental novelists. The book has a fast pace, which gives a sense of reading from a movie script rather than from a novel. The fact that the book does not follow interminable sentences or other endless paragraphs of texts makes it interesting for the readers and gives a fresh perspective on experimental literature.

Mysteries by Knut hamsun

Like all other novels by Knut Hamsun, Mysteries also follows a thriller plot published in 1892. Although according to various reviews from critics, the book does not justify the title, Hamsun has still managed to keep his readers hooked to their seats with the gripping storyline and style of narration. Critics also state that Hamsun has managed to keep his magic recessive, which is one of the primary reasons for the cookbook’s success.

Mysteries

La Bas by Joris-Karl Huysmans

Many adjectives are used to describe the book’s narration – surreal, repugnant, dense, raw, wild, and intoxicating- representing the social world we live in today. Although the book was published in 1891, its resemblance to today’s society is astonishing. This novel also proves that people of the 80’s also demanded some edgy stories.

The Thief of Talent by Pierre Reverdy

This novel looks like a book of poetry but is an emotionally engaging story that has gained territory among poets. Despite its publication in 1917, the novel feels like it was published out of time because the narration is dated in tone. If you read the novel, you will feel like it was written yesterday, but in reality, it was published almost 100 years ago.

Great Magical Realism Movies That Are Worth Your Time

Magical Realism

Magical Realism Movies sprinkle fantasy into the depiction of ordinary everyday life. They provide us with the best of both worlds – reality and fantasy. One of the common denominators of any Magical realism movies is that they are set in the real world. In those seemingly ordinary settings, you might see uncommon incidents. Here are some of the greatest magical realism movies of all time:

Black Swan

Black Swan:

Black Swan is a psychological thriller released in 2010, directed by Darren Aronofsky. The film saw an exceptional performance from Natalie Portman in the lead role as a ballerina. The movie depicts the life of Nina (played by Natalie Portman) as an overworked ballerina who is hardworking and strives tremendously for artistic perfection. The movie strives to educate the audience about the hard work any artist has to undertake and how the mind can break down under immense performance pressure. The movie teaches us that we are our own worst enemies, plagued by self-doubt and imposter syndrome.

Midnight in Paris:

Midnight in Paris, written and directed by Woody Allen, is a fantasy comedy released in the year 2011. The movie is set in the city of love, Paris, the perfect location for a romantic movie. The movie is about an engaged couple who travels to Paris for business. Gil Pender (played by Owen Wilson) is a nostalgic writer who is not so happy with his present life. One day while walking through the streets of Paris, he is whisked into an era to meet all his idols from the past. The movie teaches the audience that the past may have been golden, but the present and future are not bad either. If anything, the movie teaches us to learn to enjoy the present moment rather than spending time reveling in the past or wondering about the future.

Edward Scissorhands:

Edward Scissorhands, released in 1990, is a romantic fantasy directed by Tim Burton. The main character Edward, an outcast, is played by Johnny Depp. Edward is not a pleasant sight with his unruly black shot hair and blades for fingers. However, Edward is a sweetheart of a boy, always kind and helping others. The movie attempts to teach the audience not to judge a book by its cover. The story takes a romantic twist when a kind saleswoman Peg takes Edward home, where he falls for Peg’s daughter (played by Winona Ryder).

Edward Scissorhands

Life of Pi:

Life of Pi is a classic of the magical realism movie genre. Released in 2012 and directed by Ang Lee, the movie is adapted from the book of the same name. The movie is about of boy who ends up alone in the middle of the ocean after a tragedy strikes his family on the way to Canada. Pi (played by Suraj Sharma) finds himself with a Bengal tiger in a lifeboat floating in the sea. As they continue their ordeal, eventually, the tiger and the boy learn to trust each other for survival. The movie also depicts the natural instincts of Pi to learn and search for a higher purpose and his journey towards faith.