The Politics and Poetics of Latin American Magical Realism

Bennett, Caroline Jane. 1999. The Politics and Poetics of Latin American Magical Realism. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The phenomenon of the magical realist genre in twentieth century Latin American fiction is the subject of this thesis. Part I, comprising three chapters, considers the theoretical aspects of magical realism. Chapter One traces the genealogy of the critical writing on magical realism, and identifies a number of problems. In Chapter Two, the European and Latin American textual ancestry is established. Chapter Three, dealing with the politics and poetics of magical realism, first lays bare the attributes of both classic realism and surrealism, demonstrating magical realism's dependence on realist methodology in its depiction of 'magical' events, and clarifies its difference from other realisms. Also, in this chapter, a specific postcolonial structure of feeling is identified with magical realist fiction; the consciousness of South and Central American writers has assimilated the culture of both the former coloniser and the colonised, and this co-existence of two contradictory cultures produces the structure of feeling that lies behind magical realism. In part, literature is viewed, effectively, as the practice of the collective socio-political unconscious, and magical realism is conceived as a mode of resistance to the colonially imposed construction of identity. It can also be one of the channels through which non­hegemonic groups appropriate cultural capital. The remainder of this chapter deals with further postmodern characteristics and issues concerning postcolonialism.

Part II contains three chapters which are devoted to close textual analysis of the following narratives: The Kingdom of This World by Alejo Carpentier; One Hundred Years of Solitude and 'Innocent Erendira' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; and The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Latin American fiction, magical realism, postcolonialism, socio-politics

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



May 1999

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Date Deposited:

03 Jun 2020 08:40

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 14:26


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