chapter  Chapter One
31 Pages

The Problem of Definition

ByAmaryll Beatrice Chanady

Magical realism, just like the fantastic, is a literary mode rather than a specific, historically identifiable genre, and can be found in most types of prose fiction. For the German art critic, magical realism was a way of reacting to reality and pictorially representing the mysteries inherent in it. Magical realism is thus based on reality, or a world with which the author is familiar, while expressing the myths and superstitions of the American Indians. Magical realism is thus characterized first of all by two conflicting, but autonomously coherent, perspectives, one based on an “enlightened” and rational view of reality, and the other on the acceptance of the supernatural as part of everyday reality. Both magical realism and the fantastic are characterized by coherently developed codes of the natural and the supernatural. In magical realism, the mere act of explaining the supernatural would eliminate its position of equivalence with respect to our conventional view of reality.