The Magical Sublime: A New-old Lens On Magical Realism
Sasser, Kim Danielle
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While magical realist critics often refer to magical realism's generic heritage of primitive cultures and indigenous mythology, Franz Roh's magischer realismus, and Surrealism, I will point to the sublime as a less recognized lineage, yet one which offers equally fruitful insights. Magical realism employs many elements of the sublime, such as astonishment and the alternation between the two phases of pain and pleasure, but perhaps most valuable in this comparative analysis is the sublime's offering new perspectives which illuminate how magical realism's most distinguishing characteristic, the magic, functions. Relying mostly on the theories of Longinus, Burke, and Kant, as well as various contemporary eco-theorists, in this analysis I demonstrate how magical realism shares the characteristics of several different historical and contemporary usages of the sublime while conflating ontological binaries, dramatizing historical horrors, engaging with issues of nationhood, and embodying the debate about sublime place.