Given the abundance of criticism labeled ‘European’ or ‘Latin American’ magic realism, one might think that the provenance of the genre is European or Latin American. not so Writers (of different generations) in the United States have a tradition of magical realism. If it is considered that magical realism is a literary genre that combines fantastic or dreamlike elements with realism; that places fantasy and surreal narratives in a normal, everyday contemporary world, then writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ambrose Bierce, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, John Cheever, Toni Morrison, and William Kennedy deserve to be included in the magical realism genre.
Drawing on native fables, folktales, fairy tales, and Puritan myths, American writers, as we shall see, have a body of work that showcases mind-boggling tricks, dream sequences, and often just plain distortion and distortion of what we accept as the truth. natural reality. world. Given the abundance of material, this article will deal only with the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
More than novels, Nathaniel Hawthorne cultivated ‘romances’–which allow the writer a quicker suspension of disbelief and more latitude than novels–that border on fantasy and dreams, it can be said that narratives like the scarlet letter Y The house of the seven roofs contain elements of magical realism. I particularly like the final scene of The house of the seven roofs in which Uncle Venner “seemed to hear a chord of music and imagined that Alice Pyncheon … had given a farewell touch with the joy of a spirit on her harpsichord as she floated skyward from the House of Seven Gables” . This scene recalls the fabulous scene by Gabriel García Márquez in which Remedios la Bella –a character from One Hundred Years of Solitude — go up to the sky in the middle of the fluttering sheets.
But it is in Hawthorne’s tales that we find magical realism in full bloom; or, as critic RP Blackmur put it, these stories are “dreams bordering on nightmare.” I want to focus on his story “Young Goodman Brown” to highlight the characteristics of magical realism.
In this tale, “Young Goodman Brown,” like Dante, “had taken a dismal road, obscured by all the gloomiest trees in the forest, scarcely turning aside to let the narrow path pass…” In this dense Forest Brown meets a traveler whom he suspects is the devil himself, but the stranger bears a strong family resemblance as father and son. If this scene isn’t terrifying in and of itself, it’s at least diabolical enough to foreshadow the worst to come. Delusional, bewildered, and right in the middle of a hellish nightmare brought to life by the tangible proof of his wife’s tapes, young Goodman Brown watches the entire liturgy – singing, reading, preaching and communion included – of a mass black:
“There’s my wife, Faith.” As he spoke, he pointed with his cane at a female figure on the path, in whom Goodman Brown recognized a very pious and exemplary lady, who had taught him catechism in his youth, and was still his moral and spiritual adviser, along with the minister. and Deacon Gookin.”
And the whole town sees him there in that cult of wicked witches — of the devil! After delighting readers with mysterious, delusional, and hallucinatory scenes, Hawthorne’s narrator asks, “Had Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the woods and only had a wild dream of a gathering of witches?”
In an ironic twist, when Young Goodman Brown dies, the entire community, all the participants in the black mass, follow him in a long procession as he is “carried to his grave.” Was this a second black mass? While many read this story as a horror story, there’s more to it, for all the magical realism elements, including props like a cane that resembles a snake, materializing ribbons, clothing, and an animated forest, mentioned above. they are present.