Magic Realism

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Compare Allende’s The House of the Spirits to Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude by researching the histories of Chile and Colombia respectively. How does the use of Magic Realism evoke the specific political and social realities of these countries? What do the histories of these countries tell us about the formation of Magic Realism as a literature of protest?

Read Toni Morrison’s Beloved in light of Carpentier’s notion that magic realist texts are specifically related to Latin-American history and culture and that the term cannot address imaginative works outside of this context. State whether you agree with his argument by making a case for or against Beloved as a magic realist text.

Many magic realist writers incorporate indigenous people’s legends, myths, and rituals into their fiction as a way to disrupt traditional notions of time and space. Read Asturias’s Men of Maize in light of the Guatemalan oral text The Popol-Vuh. What structural and conceptual elements does he borrow from this traditional text to enhance the “ethnographic” elements of his novel?

The natural world plays a large part in magic realist texts, often providing a richly textured backdrop to the social and political aspects of these works. Research the natural resources of one or two Latin-American countries. What minerals, plants, cash crops, natural formations, and ecosystems are most common in these countries? How have these natural resources become a source of conflict as well as of value to the various inhabitants and outsiders of these countries? Use examples from magic realist texts to help formulate your argument.

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