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LexWordsmith's avatar

Is 'a Canadian version of magical realism' a good description of The Deptford Trilogy?

Asked by LexWordsmith (964points) June 7th, 2009

why or why not? i say yes, and i’m enjoying reading it; on the other hand, i’m not very familiar with the South American school of magical realism.

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6 Answers

cwilbur's avatar

I say no, because I don’t remember any fantastic elements in it. There has to be something impossible and fantastic in it for it to be magical realism and not just plain realism.

This is not to say it’s not good, just that it’s not magic realism.

LexWordsmith's avatar

Pictures of saints that are the same as faces of people you know.
Praying to your great-grandmother for strength when totally exhausted, and receiving it.
Jungian archetypes.

Those are three examples of unrealistic, fantastical elements, off the top of my head.

cwilbur's avatar

None of those seem to me to be especially impossible and fantastic, especially compared to Latin American magical realism where women float up into the sky because they are too beautiful for Earth, and nobody finds it remarkable.

Unless you’re taking Davies’s wry view of Canada, and suggesting that by the standards of a cold Ontario winter, mere coincidence is interesting enough to count as magic?

LexWordsmith's avatar

Is receiving strength by asking it from a dead ancestor, when you are totally exhausted and you have no reason to believe in the power of prayer, not fantastic?

A German Madonna looking like an Englishwoman named Mary, that could be coincidence, but the resemblance is more striking to the character because he believs that the English Mary is a saint.

Jungian archetypes, in themselves, are fantastical if treated as actually existent or valid.

but i guess it comes down to interpretation—appears we’ll end up “agreeing to disagree”.

cwilbur's avatar

Is there anything in the books that simply could not happen in the real world?

Receiving strength by asking a dead ancestor for it is entirely interior to the character. There’s nothing objectively supernatural about it. Musing on the resemblance between someone you think is a saint and a painting of a saint is also entirely interior to the character—not to mention entirely coincidental. And Jungian psychoanalysis is something that people do every day in this world.

What’s fantastic about any of those things? They’re all the interior life of the characters. There’s nothing even implausible about them, let alone impossible.

Is there anything as unrealistic as a woman floating up into the sky because she’s too beautiful for Earth?

(You should probably read One Hundred Years of Solitude, or some other emblematic work of magical realism—I don’t think this is anywhere near “agreeing to disagree,” and it has a lot more to do with simply not getting what magical realism is.)

LexWordsmith's avatar

Thanks for the forthcoming responses.

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