In a different literary tradition, you may remember "Street of Crocodiles" by Bruno Schultz, written in Poland decades before the Latin American Boom: there, magical realism works both ways, for me: it IS essential to the stories, which would be deformed beyond recognition without it, but it is also, curiously, the stuff that childhood recollection are made of...
: Interesting kickoff to a discussion.
: I've also heard the distinction made between
: "high fantasy" and "low fantasy."
: High fantasy is Sterling's #3 category in that it
: takes place entirely in an imaginary world like Lord
: of the Rings . Low fantasy takes place in, or uses
: elements from, our own world. Harry Potter would be
: another example of low fantasy.
: Another category is "science fantasy." This
: is literature that takes the typical story elements of
: fantasy but presents it as hypothetically possible.
: Most of Edgar Rice Burroughs's fiction would fall in
: this category, as would Gene Wolfe's Book of the New
: Sun (which is high on my to-read list).
: My own definition of magical realism would differ
: considerably from Gene Wolfe's. I would say that it is
: set entirely in our own world but that elements of
: magic or fantasy are used in a metaphorical sense for
: purposes of poetic expression. Or, to put it another
: way, events immediately acquire a mythic status with
: the fanciful and imaginative embellishments that would
: normally accrue over generations of telling and
: Since magical realism isn't really creating a
: different world (like Middle Earth), there are no
: rules for it to follow or break. What I didn't like
: about The Bone People --and this may have been what
: you were getting to when your patient arrived,
: Sterling--was that the whole atmosphere of the novel
: is such that the sudden introduction of magical
: elements seems completely out of place, and
: invalidates much of what might have been drawn from
: the story. Imagine that in the last 50 pages of
: Raymond Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely a mysterious
: cloud appears over Los Angeles, the murder victims all
: come back to life, everybody forgives everybody else,
: and they all have a big party. That's how I felt about
: the ending of The Bone People . But obviously others
: saw it differently, since it won a Booker Prize and
: other recognition.
: --Previous Message--
: Gene Wolfe has been quoted as saying. "Magic
: realism is fantasy written by Latin Americans."
: Steven's objection to the intrusion of fantasy into
: the gritty realism of The Bone People has me
: Fantasy, real fantasy, can be broken into three
: categories: (1) A story in which a person from our
: world enters a magic realm; (2) A story in which a
: person, being, or powers from a magic realm enters our
: world; (3) A story that takes place entirely in a
: magical world.
: A good example of the first is Alice in Wonderland .
: Almost any ghost story is an example of the second.
: The Lord of the Rings is a celebrated example of the
: Magic realism, in my opinion, straddles a delicate
: boundary between the second and third. Macondo is
: obviously in Colombia, but it is also somehow a
: magical place. On the other hand, Winter's Tale by
: Mark Helprin stumbles, in my opinion, by being too
: specifically set in New York City around the turn of
: the century.
: Ordinarily fantasy must follow the rules that are set
: by the author. We know what hobbits are like.
: Tolkien does not betray our trust. We know we're not
: in the real world from the opening sentences. Steven
: felt that the author had broken faith with him in The
: Bone People because magic was introduced late without
: (My patient has arrived. Perhaps I'll write more
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