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Magic Realism - 2013 > Magic Realism 2013 - Description, Questions, & Resources

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message 1: by Jim (last edited Aug 02, 2013 03:04PM) (new)

Jim | 3056 comments Mod
Our Magic Realism 2013 read looks at books from many time periods and different countries. Using a description from Wikipedia, these books extend the idea beyond the more common idea of the genre built around Latin American writers like Borges, Marquez, and Allende:

“Magic realism is a genre where magic elements are a natural part in an otherwise mundane, realistic environment.” - Wikipedia

The Golden Ass (or Metamorphoses), by Lucius Apuleius was written sometime between 160 and 180 A.D. This story follows the protagonist through his many misadventures as he is accidentally turned into an ass while trying to transform himself into a bird. A bawdy and raucous tale of sex and pillage and violence, all in the name of adventure.

Gargantua and Pantagruel, by François Rabelais is a series of five books published in the 1530’s and follows the exploits of two giants, Gargantua, the father, and his son, Pantagruel. For our discussion, we’ll be reading only the first two books: Pantagruel, and Gargantua. (Note: If members enjoy the first two, we can expand the discussion to include the remaining three books.)

Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift was first published in 1726 and follows the adventures of Lemuel Gullliver as he voyages to several exotic lands; each a little stranger than the last. We will be reading all four parts of Swift’s book.

Short Stories by Jorge Luis Borges – To mix things up a bit, we’ll be reading/discussing a series of seven short stories from Borges between eight of our Magic Realism books. Story selections will be announced later. First story will be for the week of April 1st.

Pedro Páramo, by Juan Rulfo was first published in 1955. The story is told in a combination of first and third person narration, and had a great influence on the development of magical realism literature.

One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez was first published in 1967. This is the book that put him on the map and many consider it to be his masterpiece.

The Flounder, by Günter Grass was first published in 1977. Although most well-known for his novel ‘The Tin Drum’, The Flounder is a magical reworking of the fairytale ‘The Fisherman and His Wife’.

Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie was first published in 1981 and won that year’s Booker Prize. Set on the eve of India’s independence from British rule, this novel is acclaimed as a masterful blend of magical realism and historical fiction.



Feel free to post any Questions you may have, or links to MR-related Resources in this thread.


message 2: by James (new)

James the Greatest (cracked_belle) I play a lot of video and table-top games. one thing I really enjoy in exploring the magic systems in them all is how they function.

in Dungeons and Dragons, for example, there are two main kinds of magic: arcane and divine. the difference is basically that arcane come from nature, whereas divine comes from a deity.

I would love to hear people's thoughts on the specifics of a system. to you, is magic energy? does it require an incantation? et cetera.

and as far as links, I really dif the TVtropes site. here is their magical realism article: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php...

here's a page via the Dalas Baptist Uni: http://www3.dbu.edu/mitchell/magical.htm

and lastly, I end with two quotes:
"Science is magic that works." ― Kurt Vonnegut
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." ― Arthur C. Clarke


message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3056 comments Mod
James wrote: "I play a lot of video and table-top games. one thing I really enjoy in exploring the magic systems in them all is how they function.

in Dungeons and Dragons, for example, there are two main kinds..."


Those are great questions. I'm guessing arcane would include magic that comes from humans (as part of nature).

Divine magic is interesting to me, mostly because of how over time, so much has been reclassified by science. For example, Poseidon was the "God of the Sea" and the "Earth-Shaker" for the belief that he controlled the tides and earthquakes. Much later, those annoying science-types came in with their theories of lunar gravitational pull and tectonic plate movements, and suddenly Poseidon's temples had no purpose.

What is explainable and measurable and "provable", we call science, and what lays without, we call "magic". Why then, do I sometimes know who is calling before the phone rings? Why do I sometimes hear verbatim what someone is about to say just before they say it? Is it magic or is it some kind of energy system that hasn't yet been identified/measured/proved?

And so, is magic just a word we use when we don't have better words?

I don't know if you can say that magic is "energy" because somehow, in our Aristotelian scientific culture, you would have to be able to define the terms and prove them via scientific method. At that point, the magic is gone and you just have the facts, ma'am...


message 4: by Gaetano (new)

Gaetano | 9 comments I've read The Golden Ass (but here in italy we call it usually Le Metamorfosi, my final Latin Matura exam was on that), all Borges (he's my favourite writer),One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabo Marquez and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.
I think i will join for Rabelais and Pedro Páramo by J.Rulfo.
Great list Jim! (but why do you wear the Sargon mask ? )


message 5: by Jim (last edited Jan 03, 2013 12:24PM) (new)

Jim | 3056 comments Mod
Gaetano wrote: "I've read The Golden Ass (but here in italy we call it usually Le Metamorfosi, my final Latin Matura exam was on that), all Borges (he's my favourite writer),One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabo M..."

I didn't realize it was Sargon! It's an image often used in association with the Epic of Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh A New English Version by Anonymous
which is one of my favorite ancient books.

Glad to have you along for the discussions. If you have time, please also join us for Gunter Grass's The Flounder, which is very German and very funny.


message 6: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (barbarasc) | 249 comments Jim wrote: "Gaetano wrote: "I've read The Golden Ass (but here in italy we call it usually Le Metamorfosi, my final Latin Matura exam was on that), all Borges (he's my favourite writer),One Hundred Years of So..."

Jim, if the Epic of Gilgamesh is one of your favorite books, why not add it to the (already very busy) schedule of books to discuss here? I haven't seen it discussed in any other groups, and it's not a very long work. (I'm sure it was discussed in other groups, but I haven't seen anything on it.)

The Faust books end halfway through the year, so there will only be a choice of two books to read (instead of three) once we're done with Faust.

Just a suggestion!!!


message 7: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3056 comments Mod
Barbara wrote: "Jim wrote: "Gaetano wrote: "I've read The Golden Ass (but here in italy we call it usually Le Metamorfosi, my final Latin Matura exam was on that), all Borges (he's my favourite writer),One Hundred..."

That's a possibility, but I haven't thought of a clever way to work it into our projects here.

BTW, shortly after Faust finishes, we'll be doing a "Spotlight on Nabokov" to fill the gap.


message 8: by Alberta (new)

Alberta Ross (authorshow4506833alberta_ross) | 2 comments like Epic of Gilamesh very much but prefer Inanna possibly becauseI'm female:) but Gilamesh features in her story - Diane Wolkstein &Samuel Noah Kramer Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth, her stories and hymns from Summer -


message 9: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3056 comments Mod
Alberta wrote: "like Epic of Gilamesh very much but prefer Inanna possibly becauseI'm female:) but Gilamesh features in her story - Diane Wolkstein &Samuel Noah Kramer Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth, her storie..."

I've always been curious about why Inanna is singled out for study, since as far as I know, she was one member of a pantheon of gods and goddesses. Does Wolkstein discuss Inanna's cohorts?


message 10: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (barbarasc) | 249 comments Jim wrote: "Barbara wrote: "Jim wrote: "Gaetano wrote: "I've read The Golden Ass (but here in italy we call it usually Le Metamorfosi, my final Latin Matura exam was on that), all Borges (he's my favourite wri..."

A "Spotlight on Nabokov" sounds like a great idea!


message 11: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (barbarasc) | 249 comments Jim, have you decided what the first Borges story will be?? Will it be from Labyrinths or Ficciones or a different collection??

This is a group of very fast readers. I'm a SLOW reader. (Well, it's not so much that I'm slow. The real problem is that I don't have enough time to read because I work very long hours.)

Anyway, I'm trying to get ahead of myself here, because you've put together a list of books I've been meaning to read -- books that have been at the very top of my "to read" list but I just haven't gotten to them (i.e., The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, 1Q84, Master & Margarita, Midnight's Children, One Hundred Years of Solitude, House of the Spirits, and a lot more.)

I've also been wanting to read some of Borges stories.

I definitely don't want to miss out on the discussions of any of the books mentioned, but I find that whenever I post something AFTER the discussion is over, I rarely get a response to my posts because everyone has already moved on to the next book.

SO, with the books that I absolutely do not want to miss, I'm going to try to read in advance. (I've finished Goethe's Faust, so I'm starting Master & Margarita this week, and I'd like to read the first Borges story soon.

THANKS JIM!!!


message 12: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3056 comments Mod
Barbara wrote: "Jim, have you decided what the first Borges story will be?? Will it be from Labyrinths or Ficciones or a different collection??

This is a group of very fast readers. I'm a SLOW reader. (Well, it's..."


Sorry for the delay! I have this version of Borges: Fictions which I believe has the same stories. I'll try to choose the first story this week and post the name.


message 13: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (barbarasc) | 249 comments Thanks Jim!!!


message 14: by Ryan (last edited Mar 10, 2013 05:09AM) (new)

Ryan Saunders | 8 comments Any selection yet on the Borges? I just got my copy in the other day and I reading him for the first time!


message 15: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3056 comments Mod
Ryan wrote: "Any selection yet on the Borges. I just got my copy in the other day and I reading him for the first time!"

Ryan/Barbara: Forgive my tardiness!

For our first short story, we'll read "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" Which was collected in the 1941 book "The Garden of Forking Paths". It can be found in the "Fictions" collection and in "Labyrinths" which is published by New Directions. We will read and discuss the week of April 1st.


message 16: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (barbarasc) | 249 comments Jim wrote: "Barbara wrote: "Jim wrote: "Gaetano wrote: "I've read The Golden Ass (but here in italy we call it usually Le Metamorfosi, my final Latin Matura exam was on that), all Borges (he's my favourite wri..."

Hi Jim,

In Message #7 of this thread you mentioned that we would be doing a "Spotlight on Nabokov" when we're done with all the Faust books. I've been able to find most of Nabokov's books on the Nook. Are we still going to read any of his books? (It's refreshing that there are still some great books available on the Nook!!)


message 17: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3056 comments Mod
Barbara wrote: "In Message #7 of this thread you mentioned that we would be doing a "Spotlight on Nabokov" when we're done with all the Faust books. I've been able to find most of Nabokov's books on the Nook. Are we still going to read any of his books?..."

We will, but I want to wait until April to send out the message and schedule.

Book list:
Invitation to a Beheading
Lolita
Pnin
Lectures on Literature
Pale Fire
Speak, Memory
Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle

Discussions will run from July 8 - November 10

The "Lectures on Literature" cover seven classic books, which we will not officially read, but if you happen to have them on your shelves (or nook), you'll want to refer to them:
Mansfield Park
Bleak House
Madame Bovary
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales of Terror
Swann's Way
The Metamorphosis
Ulysses


message 18: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (barbarasc) | 249 comments Jim wrote: "Barbara wrote: "In Message #7 of this thread you mentioned that we would be doing a "Spotlight on Nabokov" when we're done with all the Faust books. I've been able to find most of Nabokov's books o..."

Absolutely fantastic list!

Thanks Jim!!


message 19: by William (new)

William Mego (willmego) | 119 comments Ok, I just might be totally blind, but after 20 minutes of searching posts I can't seem to find any answer to the question, so:

I've seen a reference a couple of people have made to a read of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle happening in late November? The MR list and the group bookshelf doesn't seem to list any mention of it, so is this actually a read? If so, what dates?


message 20: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3056 comments Mod
Will wrote: "Ok, I just might be totally blind, but after 20 minutes of searching posts I can't seem to find any answer to the question, so:

I've seen a reference a couple of people have made to a read of The ..."


No, TWUBC was removed from the schedule because the Magical realism discussions drew little interest.


message 21: by William (new)

William Mego (willmego) | 119 comments Ah. That's too bad. I was looking forward to this. It's understandable though. I frankly wish I could roll the clock back and get another crack at 2013, both reading-wise and life-wise.

Ordered a copy of the Barth book today at least.


message 22: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 326 comments Will wrote: "Ah. That's too bad. I was looking forward to this. It's understandable though. I frankly wish I could roll the clock back and get another crack at 2013, both reading-wise and life-wise..."

Ditto :-(

I abstained from the MR reads ironically because of how much I love Magical Realism. I'd previously read most the books on the list, but too long ago to contribute anything of value, so I opted for 'Faust', since it was a totally new experience.


message 23: by Casceil (new)

Casceil | 90 comments I'm with Will and Whitney. I was looking forward to the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.


message 24: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3056 comments Mod
How many of you want to read and discuss TWUBC?


message 25: by William (new)

William Mego (willmego) | 119 comments I'm in


message 26: by Casceil (new)

Casceil | 90 comments I'm in, too.


message 27: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3056 comments Mod
Casceil wrote: "I'm in, too."

Original plan was for 6 weeks beginning on November 18. Would that still work?


message 28: by Casceil (new)

Casceil | 90 comments Works for me.


message 29: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3056 comments Mod
Casceil wrote: "Works for me."

OK, I'll add it back to the schedule


message 30: by Casceil (new)

Casceil | 90 comments Thank you.


message 31: by William (new)

William Mego (willmego) | 119 comments Yay!


message 32: by Betty (new)

Betty (olderthan18) Absolutely.


message 33: by Dee (new)

Dee (deinonychus) | 27 comments Read it back in January, so will try and contribute to the discussion. I'd borrowed it from the library, and am reading too much else at the moment to reread, but it's still fairly fresh in my memory, as one of the best books I've read this year.


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