Was magic realism started with literature or was it created in other arts before literature? For example, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a magic realistic book.

Was One Hundred Years of Solitude the first to use this trope? If not what book was then?


by magic realism I mean the literary genre that incorporates fantastic or mystical elements into otherwise realistic fiction.

  • 6
    "magic realism" what's that mean? (I know what it means, maybe add that to the question) – user72 Jan 19 '17 at 21:37
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    What do you mean by "before literature?" Do you mean before the 1800s boom of modern fantastic and speculative fiction? – BESW Jan 19 '17 at 23:25
  • I'm voting to leave open for now, but please edit to explain what you mean by "magic realism". – Rand al'Thor Jan 19 '17 at 23:49
  • Please revise the question and make your question more clear. After that, we could reopen it. – Benjamin Jan 21 '17 at 10:54

I'm going to put in a vote for Shakespeare's play, A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595/1596). Here's how it fares against the characteristics listed on the Wikipedia page for Magical Realism:

  1. Fantastical elements: Yes.
  2. Real-world setting: Yes, if a historical one. The Wikipedia page says "In the binary world of magical realism, the supernatural realm blends with the natural, familiar world", which definitely applies.
  3. Authorial reticence: No, all the magic is pretty clearly explained within the rules of its universe.
  4. Plenitude: Maybe. I think the big wedding at the end counts, and maybe all the running around in the forest, but it's not the same kind of plenitude that Magical Realism has, as far as I know.
  5. Hybridity: Yes. Arguably, Bottom's time as a donkey-head doesn't count, since he enters a magical world and then returns from it, but magic clearly affects the four lovers and their eventual lives.
  6. Metafiction: Yes. It has a play-in-a-play, in which we watch and listen to an audience commenting on the play they're watching. Also, it ends with a magical creature offering us magical assistance when required. Can't say meta-er than that.
  7. Heightened awareness of mystery: Maybe. Heightened state of reality? Yes, given all the stakes: people duelling to the death, heartbroken people rejected by those they loved, and so on. Heightened awareness of magic? I don't think so: nobody really notices what the fairies are up to as far as I can recall.
  8. Political critique: Maybe, based on the complex relationships between the two royal couples, but these are sorted out and all's well that ends well.
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    I agree that it matches these elements, but do you have evidence to suggest that this is the first work with magical realism elements? – user80 Jan 19 '17 at 22:46
  • Absolutely not! :) I'm hoping somebody pipes up for Beowulf or the Odyssey or any of the older literary works I know nothing about. I was just aiming for the oldest piece of literature I knew about personally that could be argued to broadly be magical realism. – Gaurav Jan 20 '17 at 0:02
  • Historical setting? Theseus and Hyppolita are mythical figures. – Tsundoku May 24 '19 at 19:30

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