How Magical is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Magical Realism?

After reading both Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” and One Hundred Years of Solitude, I have begun to question just how far from reality Garcia Marquez really is. Does he meld the mythical and the pragmatic worlds, create his own world, or does he merely describe the real world in its entirety? Does he introduce the mystical “angel” and the spider-woman into the world with which we are familiar, or does he merely describe our world in extraordinary detail?

We fail to see the evidence of the flying carpets of the gypsy caravan or experience the insomnia plague of Macondo. This lack of vision may only be because we do not allow ourselves to suspend our disbelief, so that we can witness the true scope of the world we think we know. We need to view these foreign objects and events not as other-worldly occurrences, but as unexplained circumstances.

Garcia Marquez may describe events and objects that are not real, but that does not mean that he did not envision them in our world. He only adds a touch of magic that causes us to lose sight of their true meaning. He cloaks realities in his own imagination, possibly because he himself lacks an explanation. This leads me to dig deeper into his seemingly mythical stories. Is the old man truly an angel? Or is it Garcia Marquez’s own detail of a broken spirit, taking time to gather its strength?

4 thoughts on “How Magical is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Magical Realism?

  1. NATALIE SERRATOS

    Lucy, I completely agree with your point! Upon first glance the story may seem to be solely fantasy, however, it definitely has more meaning to it. A common trend amongst these surreal or sci-fi stories is that they connect to real-world issues. You can see this is a variety of stories and shows. For example, my favorite show Black Mirror focuses on the horrors that technological advancements can impose on the human population, but it does so in an incredibly creative way. I feel that this creative method of presenting issues that relate to the human population is a more captivating way of raising awareness. It is a method that allows the reader or audience to not only read or watch something entertaining but also take a lesson out of it that applies to the real world.

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  2. SYDNEY GROULX

    Great post Lucy! I thought you brought up a very interesting, worthwhile point to consider. I also felt like the term “magical realism” may have been a tad bit of a stretch for this story, but I do see where it can be applied. The “fantasy” of the old man, as you pointed out, is not something as “magical” as a flying carpet or genie, but it is not realistic. I also wonder what the author’s true point was with this story, in terms of literally portraying the man as someone with magical abilities versus letting the reader decide what they consider to be “magical” or not.

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  3. YUNHAO XU

    This is actually a really nice point. As I first read this story, there were several points that didn’t make any sense to me. For instance, the sudden advent of the angel, the miserable spider woman and also some other places. These characters came one by one in the story and combined with the real world which brought us to a totally different world. Just like you said, we can’t determine the author’s purpose accurately, but we were attracted by this fantasy and empathized with all the characters, including the flying angel, the ugly desire of human and the strong connections between different beings.

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  4. Alex Y

    I like this post quite a bit. I’ve also read “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” and I agree that a unique quality of his work is the way he bends the magical and real. To your point about whether or not the old man really was an angel, I lean more to the side that he might be an angel. I mostly lean towards the magic mostly because of how realistically he’s described and acts. Instead of being this ethereal holy being, he’s treated as commonplace after a while and they even forget about him. On the other hand, it’s possible that he could just be a strange old man who eventually gets the will to leave. This interpretation would mean that the other events in the story would also have to be interpreted differently like the spider lady. That being said, I love Marquez’s magical realism because it also makes what’s real magical, like in this story with the storm and the massive amounts of crabs. Anyways, I liked this post.

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