The Hesitating Text: The Fantastic and Magical Realism

Khattab, Mona. 2022. The Hesitating Text: The Fantastic and Magical Realism. Other thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Fantastic literature has often been studied in relation to its predecessor, the Gothic, but very rarely in relation to twentieth-century magical realism. I will study the links between the two seemingly disparate literary modes beginning with Tzvetan Todorov’s definition of the fantastic, and then modify it to allow for a more inclusive definition that can encompass the idea of magical realism as an evolved form of the nineteenth-century fantastic. Both the fantastic and magical realism are defined by the juxtaposition of two opposing ontological worlds: the real and the supernatural/magical. However, while the existence of these two opposing ontological worlds generates character and reader hesitation in the nineteenth-century fantastic, in magical realism the hesitation is often shifted to the possible multiple alternative interpretations regarding the events being narrated. In studying the evolution of fantastic literature from the nineteenth century to the present day, I will explore its origins in Gothic literature, its adaption to the twentieth century by foregrounding ontological concerns and utilizing metafictional strategies, its evolution into magical realism while still incorporating elements of the Gothic and fantastic, and its expansion to new geographical frontiers. A significant thread in this history is the charge of the sublime, particularly as it is formulated by Burke and Kant, as a form of negative pleasure and one that is strongly associated with terror. These various strands are studied through the analysis of short Gothic fiction by Nathanial Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, Carmen Martín Gaite’s The Back Room, Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, Jack Hodgins’s The Resurrection of Joseph Bourne, Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus, and Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children.

Item Type:

Thesis (Other)

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Additional Information:



The Fanatstic, Magical Realism, Tzvetan Todorov, Wendy B. Faris, Gothic, postmodern gothic

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


30 April 2022

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

06 May 2022 14:33

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:19


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