R E A D E R R E S P O N S E
a n o t h e r k i n d o f m a g i c
BY GARRETT ROWLAN
from JOHN PROHASKA ~ September 4, 2001
I'm forced to more or less go along with Garrett Rowlan's assessment for the reasons he states and more. First off, since the literary acceptance of the Magical Realism genre, there have been attempts by various parties to pry it open further in order to give legitimacy to every ghost story and tale of altered reality. Therefore, I also find myself forced to champion a sort of purist's outlook in order to maintain that hard-earned legitimacy. In truth, I feel Mr. Rowlan's comments can be summed up by the simple fact that Cortázar's work is too "emotionally narrow" to meet true MR criteria.
First, MR is an intrinsically hopeful and beautiful foundation on which to build a story. These other-worldly occurrences within the narrative can as easily be hideous and tragic, but that goes to the heart of the "too narrow" comment. The emotional spectrum must be all-inclusive. Cortázar's work is definitely more emotionally monochromatic than "One Hundred Years" or any of the accepted masterpieces of MR. For this same reason Franz Kafka can not be included. While unquestionably a progenitor to whom Gabo and others owe much, he does not warrant inclusion based on his trademark lack of emotion. He will have to settle for his unique standing of creating the "Kafkaesque" atmosphere.
So I must concur with Mr. Rowlan. While I've immense admiration for Julio Cortázar's writing, when I try to explain the MR genre or suggest relative reading material to a newcomer, I will continue to look elsewhere.
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