Margin: Exploring Modern Magical 


a    d i s c u s s i o n

Magical realism has always been one of the more contentious subjects among the literati. When one authority or another comes out with an article or book on the subject, it's clearly an invitation to a debate, since so many intellectuals differ on the definitions, purposes and qualities of literary magical realism.

In Fall 2002, Janus Head published a special magical realism edition featuring essays from critical heavyweights such as Wendy Faris, Lois Parkinson Zamora, Anne Hegerfeldt and others. Bainard Cowan, who was appointed that edition's Guest Editor, penned the essay, "A Necessary Confusion: Magical Realism." His essay, as well as several others from the same issue, merited an impassioned response from G.S. Evans, editor of Cafe Irreal: International Imagination, an online magazine which spotlights variances of literary realism under the umbrella term, irrealism.

Below, you will find the complete texts of both Cowan's article and Evans's reply. Note: Evans has replied not ony to Cowan's commentary but to the full range of articles at Janus Head; you may wish to read the entire nonfiction section of that issue for complete contest. Also, for the nonacademic reader, be aware that the writing styles herein are distinctly scholarly. However, some patience and close attention will reveal an interesting debate as well as illustrate just how strongly both of these thoughtful individuals feel about the aims of magical realism.

Janus Head
"A Necessary Confusion:
Magical Realism"
Cafe Irreal
"Magical realism and its meanings:
a not so necessary confusion"

To respond to this debate, or to contact Bainard Cowan or G.S. Evans, send an e-mail to Tamara Kaye Sellman.

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