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An illustration from One Hundred Years of Solitude, the first magical realism novel.

September – Week 1 – Magical Realism

It’s a new month! And this month’s deep dive is something that I’ve loved for a long time, but which I recently realized I don’t actually know all that much about. But that’s about to change, because this month’s deep dive is magical realism. Is this just an excuse to buy myself a bunch of books and spend the whole month reading? Maybe. But I also can’t wait to do a deep dive on this topic that I’ve found fascinating for years now.

So what exactly is magical realism? Well, it is primarily known as a literary genre, hence my joy at the prospect of buying new books. But it can be applied to other mediums of art. In fact, the term magical realism was first used in 1925 by Franz Roh, a German art critic, as a way of distinguishing a new style of painting from expressionism.

Interestingly, magical realism was an evolution of the realism art movement of the 19th century. Realism had been a reaction against romanticism, with the goal of portraying the reality of life instead of some idealized version of it. Magical realism took this one step further by seeking out the magic within reality.

As mentioned above, magical realism today is most commonly associated with literature. This is due to the boom of magical realism books that were written by Latin American authors in the 1950s and 1960s. Authors such as Jorge Luis Borges, Alejo Carpentier, Isabel Allende, and Gabriel García Márquez, considered by some to be the founding father of the genre. His novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, is considered to be the very first magical realism novel. The one that pioneered a genre that I adore.

I find it very interesting that magical realism is considered to be literary fiction and not genre fiction. Meaning it is categorized differently from science fiction and fantasy. This is because magical realism stories are set in our real world. A real world that just so happens to contain magical elements. I think that’s why I’ve always loved these stories. I love imagining what our world would be like if magic was a present force. How our world would be different. What people would do with that power and how they would react to it. The storytelling possibilities are endless.

As a result, there are countless magical realism books to dive into. However, I thought it was only fitting that I start this deep dive with the one that started it all. Which is why I’ve spending a not insignificant amount of my week reading One Hundred Years of Solitude. I should note at this point that when I first decided on this topic, I had grand ambitions of reading a book a week. Sadly, that did not pan out this week, as One Hundred Years of Solitude is not exactly a short book. One of these days I’ll be able to just read all day if I want to, but sadly I’m not at that point in my life just yet. One can dream though!

Happy Sunday all! It’s going to be a good month.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!