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Magical Realism and Indian Mythology Bookmark and Share  
  Author Name : Naga Rajan Posted on : July-17-2009 Total Hits: 2056
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As all aficionads of literature, novels, critical essays and works of fiction and non fiction are aware that literature had is and will maintain its unique place in the hearts and minds of its followers. No effort at invasion by the electronic media or the other entertainment medias have been able to dampen the ardour of book lovers, not that they have stopped trying or lost their finesse but that the reading public are still faithful to their love.


Starting from the fifties quite a few latinamericans like Miguel Angel Asturias, Pablo Neruda, Gabriel García Marqu3ez, Camilo José Cela, Octavio Paz Rigoberta Menchu etc. Among them Gabriel García Marquez is considered by many as the usherer of the genre in literature called "Realismo Mágico" in spanish and translated as "Magical Realism".


 How is it possible to be magical and also realistic at the same time? Are not the two words antithesis of each other? If so what sort of trick did Sr. Marquez use not only to bring the two together under a single genre but also to unite them to come out with something new?

Why is it that when Sr. Marquez describes the flow of blood through the crevices underneath the door, on through the house to the street in Maconda no one ever said or even thought that it is something absurd, is against all forms of scientific reasoning?

or is it something entirely new?. No it is not entirely new though the word "Magical Realism" may happen to be a new term to describe something which already exists.


The majority of the people in the world believe in some kind of God/religion be they Christians, Muslims, Hindus etc. and all of us have heard of (or at least seen in movies) the parting of the Red Sea for Moses to lead his followers/ the wondrous feats of Hanuman bringing the mountain containing Sanjeevini to Lanka from the Himalayas or the disrobing of Draupadi in Mahabharata?


It is the art of narration. Not all can narrate a story/myth so convincingly that the listener identifies himself/herself with the character and lives the role without a semblance of doubt as to whether such a thing is possible. The question of doubt or incredibility does not enter the picture at all. Sounds true. Ask any catholic? The idea of whether Red Sea could have parted to give a path to Moses does not enter his mind, as hindus never doubt that Lord Krishna helped Draupadi with unending yards of saree to maintain her chastity when she cried for help?


This element of conviction is what gives life and meaning to mythology. The element of doubt never crosses the mind of both the narrator and the listener. This element of magical realism has been the backbone of all mythologies. As long as it was considered mythology it was not given a name.


In the hands of Gabriel Garcia Márquez, this tradition of oral narration was changed to the print media in the form of writing. Thus even though the concept without being termed magical realism was in existence, the moment it appeared in black and white in print form it was welcomed with the new label

genre of "Magical Realism".


Whether it be old wine in a new bottle or new wine in a new bottle it is welcome. It is immaterial whether the ancient mythologies are accepted as they are, but then if one can read and enjoy "books of the genre Magical Realism all the more reason to dwell upon old method of narration and accept it.


The rest is for the readers to decide.

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