This year, the Premiere`s British Section English Literature students of Mrs Meetoo have studied Magical Realism, a literary movement pioneered by Latin-American writers Gabriel García Márquez, Jorge Amado, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar, and Isabel Allende throughout the 20th century, although admittedly they drew some of their motifs from earlier writers like Kafka.
Such contemporary authors as Toni Morrison and Salman Rushdie continue breathing life into this innovative approach to the narrative and literary aesthetics. Magical Realism melds fantastic and mythical elements with realistic depictions, effectively producing a seductive admixture of irony and enchantment, of the mediocre and the sublime. Reading and analyzing excerpts from Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, the formidable multigenerational saga of the Buendia family, has allowed us to gain a deeper sense of this fascinating literary tradition, of its use of disjointed temporality, elements of mythology, foundation myths and Biblical tales (The Tree of Knowledge, Cain and Abel, for instance), and the interplay of truth, memory and fantasy.
We have also studied Nobel-prize-winning writer Toni Morrison`s most acclaimed novel, Beloved, which stands as a great work of Magical Realism, as well as being a dolorous tale of haunting grief and harsh memories, but also a story of great love and intricate beauty, rendered in masterful prose.
The narrative is set in the latter half of the 19th century, in Kentucky. Sethe, one of the novel`s main protagonists, was once a slave on the Sweet Home plantation. She decided to end the days of her newborn daughter in apprehension of the enslaved life that awaited her. Now that Sethe is free, the ghost of the murdered child comes back to haunt house no 124, Bluestone Road, where she lives with her daughter Denver.
Students were asked to imagine a speech Sethe would give at Hyde Park`s Speaker`s Corner in which she would attempt to justify the filicide of which she stands guilty.
Here is an example of submitted work, in the form of a poem:
This whining I hear shall not cease,
It haunts me as black phantoms would
White windswept farmlands, with no reprieve.
I find a dampness of wood flooding my womb,
As if this clawing tree that has sprung on my spine,
And grows there still, as from unhallowed ground,
Had stretched for new turf and blackly sung,
With its hundred crows for this charred earth.
(Heckler: Murderer! Wretch! Do you not know any remorse?
She is no joyous girl; and her ghost ought to be unforgiving to you. Angry is what she is, do not speak of joy! You murdered the fruit of your womb.)
My womb. There, she thrives, this joyous girl,
Joyous, rinsed by rainwater, dead and snowed over,
And joy thence derived, blithe as a lonely pearl,
Interred where marigolds have blossomed since.
Crimson hues colour the place where I killed her.
I killed her in my arms, and there she lies,
For evermore, as no place is ever calm, and ever dies.
And so my tiny hands are reddened for ever.
On some nights I lie womb down and my palms
Show red vines flowing, beneath my vaulting tree.
Yes she is angry, but her mother knows better.
She won’t be Sixo, nor Paul D, or that gentle Halle,
No she won`t. She will misbehave, and resent
And shake my chairs, mark my cakes and rattle pans,
And memory might follow, treading my vertebral leaves,
To pick the scent of guilt unfelt, recoil and slither back.
Memory lost, memory found,
These hooves will stamp unyielding soil.
Memory of Sweet Home, and of its men,
Of clement sycamores hung with men,
Of gentle Halle, of his gentle eyes,
Memory of salvaged purity, and innocence
Under destiny’s hefty skies.
Text : NAGGEA Kaveesh, 1°G4.