Magical Realism

As an element of postmodern style, magical realism adds an interesting layer of metaphor to a piece of writing such as Tropic of Orange. As explained in B&G, magical realism often includes magical or unrealistic elements to a fiction world based in reality with little to no context, often considering them a very mundane and completely normal aspect of reality. I have seen this used countless times in literature and film and question its flimsiness. One could easily argue that the usage of such “magic” in an otherwise serious literary text seems strange or forced, and the lack of any explanation for it can make the piece seem rushed and careless. However, thinking on the subject more while reading Tropic of Orange and other postmodern pieces, it seems the magical realist elements provide a simpler allusion to or metaphor for more complex issues in reality.

For example, the entire character of Archangel and the context around Tropic of Cancer seems fanciful. At face value many of the interactions between the characters and the events happening over the course of each day seem very peculiar when reading something that is dealing with issues of reality such as postcolonialism. However, it is in this way that Yamashita is able to allude to many serious ideals in a way that doesn’t leave the reader bored or confused with use of representations and symbols.

2 Responses to Magical Realism

  1. worthenh February 8, 2016 at 1:04 pm #

    Magical realism makes use of the said representations and symbols to explain everyday life in a way that is exciting and less-mundane than the typical stream of day-to-day consciousness, however it also makes use of syntax and flow that is obscure and disjointed. I think the sentence structures and the way the rhythm of the narrative seems a beat off is also meant to unravel the normalcy that we approach everyday conventions with- such as sweeping the floor. Not only is what is occurring seemingly supernatural, but also the voice and the pattern of the way it is told seems to unravel everyday conventions. This tends to be my favorite aspect of magical realism because it seems rough around the edges like thoughts that stream out without regard for grammar or classical syntactic approaches that seem eloquent. Through this, we get a deeper feeling of the characters voice, like we can hear it in our heads. The author simply doesnt hold back, and instead lets it unfold as it is in base level thought, and then there it is- for us to read.

  2. Park February 8, 2016 at 1:37 pm #

    I agree that Yamashita employs magic realist elements to provide an allusion to or metaphor for more complex issues in reality. I will expound on your idea of Archangel, who so far seems to function more as ideas than as a participatory character in the narrative. It may be a stretch to say this, but I think he may function as an allusion to the issues surrounding immigration. I think this based on the section from page 74, when he is literally bearing the weight of a full truck load of oranges. Even those watching wondered “why they [should] allow him to do such a thing.” In another passage it seems that Yamashita is alluding to the acculturation one might experience during the migration/immigration process. On page 46, it says “no one knew where he came from, or how long he had lived.” Then on page 47 it describes his voice to be “a jumble of unknown dialects…a great confusion discernible to all and to none at all.” This is just the beginnings of one of many examples.

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