Magic Realism, World Cinema, and the Avant-Garde  book cover
1st Edition

Magic Realism, World Cinema, and the Avant-Garde

ISBN 9781138232297
Published April 20, 2021 by Routledge
242 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book follows the hybrid and contradictory history of magic realism through the writings of three key figures – art historian Franz Roh, novelist Alejo Carpentier, and cultural critic Fredric Jameson – drawing links between their political, aesthetic, and philosophical ideas on art’s relationship to reality.

Magic realism is vast in scope, spanning almost a century, and is often confused with neighbouring styles of literature or art, most notably surrealism. The fascinating conditions of modernist Europe are complex and contradictory, a spirit that magic realism has taken on as it travels far and wide. The filmmakers and writers in this book acknowledge the importance of feeling, atmosphere, and mood to subtly provoke and resist global capitalism. Theirs is the history of magic-realist cinema. The book explores this history through the modernist avant-garde in search of a new theory of cinematic magic realism. It uncovers a resistant, geopolitical form of world cinema – moving from Europe, through Latin America and the former Soviet Union, to Thailand – that emerges from these ideas.

This book is invaluable to any reader interested in world modernism(s) in relation to contemporary cinema and geopolitics. Its sustained analysis of film as a sensory, intermedial medium is of interest to scholars working across the visual arts, literature, critical theory, and film-philosophy.

Table of Contents

Foreword: Magic realism – The chronicle of a discourse

Chapter 1 – Introduction

Chapter 2 – Magischer Realismus and the ‘demon fantastic’: painting, photography, film

Chapter 3 – Ethno-magic-realist documentary: ecstatic practice

Chapter 4 – Lo real maravilloso americano: prismatic reality and the screen

Chapter 5 – Magic realism: the prehensile toe – Jameson, Magritte, and affect

Chapter 6 – ‘Soviet magic realism’ and world cinema

Chapter 7 – Hyperreality, understatement, atmosphere, and ambivalence


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Felicity Gee is a senior lecturer in Modernism and World Cinema at the University of Exeter, UK. Her research interests include surrealism, women theorists and critical theory, and film-philosophy. Her work takes an interdisciplinary approach, spanning film, art history, literature, and critical theory. Recent publications include articles on Claude Cahun, Leonora Carrington, Vera Chytilová, and authorial affect in Akira Kurosawa’s The Bad Sleep Well.