Uncertain Mirrors

Magical Realism in US Ethnic Literatures


Uncertain Mirrors realigns magical realism within a changing critical landscape, from Aristotelian mimesis to Adorno’s concept of negative dialectics. In between, the volume traverses a vast theoretical arena, from postmodernism and postcolonialism to Lévinasian philosophy and eco-criticism. The volume opens and closes with dialectical instability, as it recasts the mutability of the term “mimesis” as both a “world-reflecting” and a “world-creating” mechanism. Magical realism, the authors contend, offers another stance of the possible; it also situates the reader at a hybrid aesthetic matrix inextricably linked to postcolonial theory, postmodernism, Bakhtinian theory, and quantum physics. As Uncertain Mirrors explores, magical realist texts partake of modernist exhaustion as much as of postmodernist replenishment, yet they stem from a different “location of culture” and “direction of culture;” they offer complex aesthetic artifacts that, in their recreation of alternative geographic and semiotic spaces, dislocate hegemonic texts and ideologies. Their unrealistic excess effects a breach in the totalized unity represented by 19th century realism, and plays the dissonant chord of the particular and the non-identical.

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"..an illuminating book that scholars and teachers of US literature should read, and in which senior undergraduates and postgraduate students will find the necessary assitance to clarify the many doubts that arise when facing those strange, non-linear, experimental narratives that have been labeled as “magical realism”." - in: Miscelánea, Vol. 42 (2010), pp. 143-148
Foreword: Louise Erdrich’s “Father’s Milk”: Magical Realism’s Oxymoronic Nature
Mimesis, Realism, and Counter-realisms
Romance, the Imaginary, and Magical Realism
The Crisis of Representation: Post-realism, Postmodernism, Magical Realism
Juxtaposed Realities: Magical Realism and/as Postcolonial Experience
From Identity to Alter-entity: Trans-selving the Self in Magical Realist Narratives
Of a Magical Nature: The Environmental Unconscious
A Negative Sense of Reality
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