Magical realism is an artistic genre in which magical elements or illogical scenarios appear in an otherwise realistic or normal settings. It has been widely used in relation to literature, art, and film.

As used today, the term is broadly descriptive rather than critically rigorous. Matthew Strecher has defined magic realism as “what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe.” The term was initially used by the German art critic Franz Roh to refer to a painterly style also known as Neue Sachlichkeit (the New Objectivity). It was later used to describe the unusual realism by American painters and other artists during the 1940s and 1950s. However, in contrast to its use in literature, when used to describe visual art the term refers to paintings that do not include anything fantastic or magical, but are rather extremely realistic and often mundane.

One of the major critical and commercial successes of Magic Realism is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. It is widely considered the master work of the genre and perhaps the novel that has most shaped world literature over the past 25 years. The author confessed, “My most important problem was destroying the line of demarcation that separates what seems real from what seems fantastic.”

As recently as 2008, magical realism in literature has been defined as a kind of modern fiction in which fabulous and fantastical events are included in a narrative that otherwise maintains the reliable tone of objective realistic report. Designating a tendency of the modern novel to reach beyond the confines of realism and draw upon the energies of fable, folk tale, and myth while maintaining a strong contemporary social relevance. The fantastic attributes given to characters in such novels such as levitation, flight, telepathy and telekinesis are among the means that magic realism adopts in order to encompass the often phantasmagoric political realities of the 20th century.


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