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Literature Glossary

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Magical Realism


Ever read a book set in a world just like ours, and then boom, all of a sudden something crazy and fantastic happens in the story—like people start flying or books start floating off the table all crazy-like? Don't panic. You're not going insane. Chances are you're just reading a work of magical realism.

In magical realism, an author combines realistic and fantastic or magical elements to create a wonderful mish-mash. That is, totally everyday normal stuff takes place right alongside weird, out-of-this-world events. The results can be awesomely surreal and dreamlike.

If you're a fan of the magical-mundane mixture, check out One Hundred Years of Solitude. Marquez was a master of the genre. And if that only whets your appetite, we've got learning guides on Jorge Luis Borges's "The Secret Miracle," Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits, and Vladimir Nabokov's Spring in Fialta, too.