Magic realism  

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"Angel Flores, the first to use the term "Magic realism", set the beginning of the movement with the book A Universal History of Infamy (1935) by Jorge Luis Borges."--Sholem Stein

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Magic realism (or magical realism) is an artistic genre in which magical elements appear in an otherwise, mundane, realistic setting.

As used today the term is broadly descriptive rather than critically rigorous. The term was initially used by German art critic Franz Roh in his 1925 book Nach Expressionismus: Magischer Realismus: Probleme der neusten europäischen Malerei ("After expressionism: Magical Realism: Problems of the newest European painting") to describe painting which demonstrated an altered reality, but was later used by Venezuelan Arturo Uslar-Pietri to describe the work of certain Latin American writers.

The Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier used the term "lo real maravilloso" (roughly "marvelous reality") in the prologue to his novel The Kingdom of this World (1949). Carpentier's conception was of a kind of heightened reality in which elements of the miraculous could appear while seeming natural and unforced. Carpentier's work was a key influence on the writers of the Latin American "boom" that emerged in the 1960s.

An example of magic realism can be seen in Julio Cortázar's "La noche boca arriba," in which an individual experiences two realistic situations simultaneously in the same place but during two different time periods, centuries apart.

Determining who coined the term magical realism (as opposed to magic realism) is controversial among literary critics. Maggie Ann Bowers argues that it first emerged in the 1955 essay "Magical Realism in Spanish American Fiction" by critic Angel Flores. She notes that while Flores names Jorge Luis Borges as the first magical realist, he fails to acknowledge either Alejo Carpentier or Arturo Uslar-Pietri for bringing Roh's magic realism to Latin America.

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