Last Updated 28 Jan 2021

Fusion of Real and Unreal Realms

Category Culture, Novel
Words 1320 (5 pages)
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Magic realism – fusion of real and unreal realms. A comparison of F. Weldon's “Puffball” and J. Winterson's “The Passion” "My most important problem was destroying the lines of demarcation that separates what seems real from what seems fantastic" - Gabriel Garcia Marquez At the beginning, let me introduce the term: “magic realism”. As we can read in N. Lindstrom's book “Twentieth-Century Spanish American Literature (University of Texas Press: Austin. 1994): “Magic Realism is a narrative technique that blurs the distinction between fantasy and reality.

It is characterized by an equal acceptance of the ordinary and the extraordinary. Magic realism fuses (1) lyrical and, at times, fantastic writing with (2) an examination of the character of human existence and (3) an implicit criticism of society, particularly the elite. ” I would like to make a comparison of two excellent novels: F. Weldon's “Puffball” and J. Winterson's “The Passion” based on the definition. First of all, I would like to present an interesting relation between these two titles, that is to say, an appearance of two opposite groups of characters in each of the novels: a factual and a surreal type of a personage.

Fay Weldon in “Puffball” portrays this relationship in a surprising way: a factual type is a man, and surreal type is a woman. Let me introduce you to Richard and Tucker, the first one is a husband to Liffey, a city oriented, down to earth person, working in a big corporation. The second one, who is married to Mabs, in spite of being aware of his wife strange powers, is a simple farmer. In opposite, we have females: Liffey, a girl whose process of changing into a women (what I mean here is her being pregnant) is a beginning of her new, closer to Nature life which enables her to gain new abilities.

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Next, we have Mabs, a regular country-side witch, daughter of Nature, who tries to stop a birth of something new and unexpected – a new sorcerers and her baby . In the book, these women are a connection between a world of unknown and fictitious happenings and reality. They are like remainders of Nature's true power. By contrast, the men (especially Richard) symbolise lust and earthly pleasures, warning us that forgetting about our Ancient Mother may complicate our lives. Also, in Jeanette Winterson's novel we have this relationship (real versus unreal heroes).

Henri, a perfectly normal, young man, who however later encounters different surreal situation, follows the Emperor because of his love and respect for him. Domino, who likewise belongs to the first group of characters, is a ordinary stableman, who takes care of Napoleon's stable, loves horses and Bonaparte's mistress – Josephine. On the contrary, we have a mysterious girl without a heart, Villanell, who comes from a city as mysterious as she is – Venice. She tries to return to her homeland of wonders to finally start leaving a “real” life.

Likewise Patrick, an Irish priest, who possesses an extraordinary eye, which enables him to see beyond the horizon and who is banished from his motherland. While being a Napoleon's solder he misses his home. Here, we can observe a quest for love. Henri and Domino have something that Villanelle and Patrick do not have – a hope, while the last two are left with a voice of reason which shows that sometimes love is not enough. Next I would like to head to issues concerning a choice of places in these novels. In “The Puffball” we have an opposition of London (city) and Somerset (country side).

It is the countryside, where all amazing situations which cannot be explained happen. Maybe it is caused by the fact that it is located in a shadow of a mountain which is believed to be mystic – Glastonbury Tor. On the contrary, London is a down to earth place, people live their lives and do not think about something different than related to this reality. From the ancient times, countryside was identified with witchcraft and magic, there were legends about forests which surrounded villages, about eerie things occurring at nights. People felt living in a countryside was unsafe.

Instead, city was like a safe zone, where you might have been anonymous however you were never alone. A city was a place where everything was reasonable, explainable, and most of all it was safe – you had not to worry about something unrealistic. Russia in “The Passion” provides us with a harsh reality of war: we are witnessing death, cold, fear. We are being led through this country of suffer by Henri, Patrick and Villanelle. It is like an escape route to a better, fairy-tale like world – Venice. In Venice, we can observe a new interesting way of presenting unreality: a city within a city.

The underworld of Venice, the kingdom of mysterious, but dangerous people, where nothing is sure and known (even laws of physics), where you cannot be sure if you are going in a right direction. Venice is like a maze, here you can hide yourself and your feelings. Every night the city starts to bloom – it is a city of sin and fun. On the other hand, Russia is a sad and cold place, where is only an empty space of white. At the steppe you cannot deceive yourself, run or hide because there is merely snow. I would like to devote the last section to events of these two novels.

In Fey Weldon's book Richard leads a normal, middle class life in the city of no hope or glory. He is working at the city, trying to overcome his desires, and eventually to avoid responsibility for what he had done. His relationship with Liffey shows his lack of imagination, his numerous romances and constant unfaithfulness to his pregnant wife makes him miserable man. For instance, his affairs with Bella, Miss Martin and Helga – it is ridiculous how these affairs start to rule his life. On the other hand, we have Liffey and her efforts to reborn to Nature.

She constantly tries to defy Mabs black-magic, and thanks to her unborn baby she awakens to the world of Nature and witchcraft. The opposite of incidents from Richard's life and unusual happenings which for Liffy becomes a daily bread, shows us how sometimes ignorance shut our eyes to a reality of an another person – Richard denies that Liffey's life is also real and that she did not make up all the extraordinary happenings. In “The Passion” we are presented to the life of Henri's village. It is a daily life of normal farmers, where an only surreal and extraordinary event was an elope of a lady (Henri's mother) with a farmer (the father).

Whereas Villanelle's world is different, it is a world where you can steal someone's hart (literally) and lock it up in a jar, where a icicle with a pendant inside does not melt. Here, you have to prepare for unknown. An ordinary, countryside life and an exotic Venice life are like a water and fire. Sometimes, we fails to observe that simple is better and that not always we should seek for an excitement. As we can see, in both novels we have prominent elements of magic realism. The opposition real versus unreal can be made in each of the group of instances mentioned above, which are in sequence: characters, places and happenings.

Also, I would like to point out that in “Puffball” a witchcraft is a main theme for the surreal parts, while, in “The Passion” an urban legend performs this function. A fusion of two world is inevitable, we cannot argue that the unreal elements should not be used and we cannot separate them from the real ones, because these stories would not be as complete and enchanting as they are now. At the end, to recapitulate my thesis, I would like to quote Albert Einstein: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. ”

Fusion of Real and Unreal Realms essay

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