MORTON P. LEVITT


From Realism to Magic Realism:
The Meticulous Modernist Fictions
of García Márquez

It was the extraordinary international success of One Hundred Years of Solitude ( 1967) which made "Magic Realism" a poplar term and, at the same time, provided the impetus to his North American publishers to translate and issue García Márquez's earlier fictions. These were not notably successful when they first appeared in Spanish—"until I was forty years old," he has said, "I never got one cent of author's royalties though I'd had five books published"—and reading them now makes clear to us how much lesser they are than their more famous successor. Yet these early stories and novels remain interesting to us today because they offer insight into the origins of the mature work—the fabled town of Macondo and some of its best known residents appear here in embryonic form—and, more important, because they reveal something of the roots and nature of Magic Realism as a literary mode. Some critics have argued that the Magic Realism of García Márquez is fundamentally different from the narrative art of other writers—a product, that is, not of "organization," as in the case of Vargas Llosa, but rather of "pure invention," as Raymond L. Williams has put it. "In the case of the Cien anos de soledad," adds John S. Brushwood,

it is a very strange reality, but it is entirely accessible to the reader since there are no barriers created by difficult narrative techniques.... He seems to write from inspiration, using

____________________
From Critical Perspectives on Gabriel Garcia Márquez, edited by Bradley A. Shaw and Nora G. Vera-Godwin. © 1986 by the Society of Spanish and Spanish-American Studies.

-227-

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