November 30, 2023


Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Bookmarked Musing: Rushdie and Magic Realism by Ramlal Agarwal

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In this essay, Ramlal Agarwal talks about magic realism as practiced by novelists in the 80s and 90s of the twentieth century, especially by Salman Rushdie in Midnight’s Children.

Magic realism is a widely used term in literary discussions, especially of novels written in the 80s and 90s of the 20th century. Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Salman Rushdie are some of its prominent practitioners. It is a narrative technique of blending reality and fantasy. It provides freedom for the novelist to digress from drab reality to romance without losing track of reality, and it became a rage in the 80s and the 90s. It was new.

Earlier novelists stuck to the purity of form, which ruled out any digressions. Gustave Flaubert, with his chiselled, fine-filed, and precise sentences, produced a realistic novel about the tragic story of an unfortunate woman. However, “realism,” as Rushdie says, “can break a writer’s (and reader’s) heart.” Likewise, the single-minded exploration of the interiority of an individual can be cloying. Therefore, the post-modernist writers did away with earlier methods and resorted to a thick mix of multiple stories in a mock-heroic and ironical style.

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