Patterns not our own : the magic realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez & Louis de Bernieres

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Jordan, Emma
Issue Date
BA in English Literature and Drama
Dublin Business School
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The purpose of this Final Year Project is to demonstrate that the genre of magical realism possesses subversive and liberating qualities discernable in the work of both Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Louis de Bernieres. In chapter 1 the history of the term magical realism is explored. The progression of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's writing towards magical realism is charted and a definition for the genre is established. The second chapter looks at the similarities between carnival and magical realism. M.M. Bakhtin's discourse on carnival and the grotesque, found in Rabelais and his World, provides a theoretical framework for the discussion of magical realism's subversive, oppositional and regenerative aspects. The third chapter concentrates on magical realism as postcolonial discourse. Homi K. Bhabha's theory of hybridity is utilised to explore the issues of post-colonial literature as a reworking of imperial power. The connection between Western realism and empirical thought is established and the genre of magical realism is proposed as an alternative, which is not invested in promoting Western ideological paradigms. It is argued that while much magical realist writing may be postcolonial, the genre is not limited to only postcolonial perspectives. The fourth chapter examines the magical realist writing of Louis de Bernieres as progressive in its treatment of female characters. It also suggests an implicit correlation between a critique of Margaret Thatcher and de Bernieres' formulation of femininity. The social implications of Thatcher's policies are addressed and it is suggested that de Bernieres' depiction of a socially and politically inclusive society contains an inherent criticism of empire and an imperialistic formulation of society. Chapter 5 concludes by suggesting that Louis de Bernieres' appropriation of magical realism is both legitimate and progressive as the genre is eminently open to such 'cultural borrowings'.