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Magic Realism in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Strange Pilgrims


Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of the leading exponents of magic realism in the arena of literature. The writer of this school interweaves realistic ordinary events and descriptive details with fantastic and dreamlike elements as well as with materials derived from myth and fairy tales. In Strange Pilgrims Marquez represents dreamlike magical events in a way that even the descriptive details achieve magical touch of brilliant imagination. The twelve stories of this volume embrace life’s oddness, its poetic incongruities whether they are joyous, disastrous or bewildering.

In the first story “Bon Voyage Mr. President the president’s present tour of Geneva differs from his fist visit. During the first visit the lake was “calm and clear” and there were “tame gully” that would feed out of one’s hands and woman for hire seemed like six-in-the picture has now turned into a nightmarish one when the President contemplates the dusty swans sitting on a wooden bench in the deserted park and sees a flower vendor on the deserted pier. The change of tonal mode is pertinent to the change in the president’s life. The president who has come to treat his “improbable and devious pain finds himself in a serious condition. He has to submit to a dangerous and inescapable operation. So, the president now finds the lake as rough as an angry sea and the gulls frightened by an outlaw wind. HE decides to face death alone in a stoical.

Based on the notion that there is no inherent division between the natural and the supernatural, magical realism juxtaposes detailed description of the mundane events, with fantastical occurrences. Combining the natural and supernatural Marquez, strives to capture the magic of everyday life. Homero, the ambulance driver as well as his countryman gets himself acquainted with him for personal gain. The president wins the heart of Homero and his wife Lazara Devis through his miserable condition. He is a lonely person with nothing but some jeweler pieces to bear the medical expense.  Homero and Lazara decide to help him. When they return from the hotel the President lives in, after setting the medical affair with him, they are intoxicated on their way home by the song of Georges, Brassens and the remembered “scent of hyacinth”. The sign of turn about it hinted at here. The president recovers from the serious pain, and expresses his desire to be the leader of the nation again. On the other hand, Homero and Lazara find themselves in a miserable condition appending their children savings.

The providential magic turn of luck is also found in the story “Maria dos Prazers”. In the story Maria, a seventy six years old whore, finds a partner when she completely devotes herself to the preparation of death. When she meets the man, little more than an adolescent, it is raining as a sign of renewal of life. Marquez in these two stories portray two positive magical events with the color of magical description.

But human beings also find themselves in awkward situations that resemble unreal mishaps. In “I only came to use the phone” Maria de la Luz Cervantes is trapped in such a situation that seems to be possible only I a nightmare. She wants to use a phone so that she can inform her husband of the mishap on her way home. She gets on a ramshackle bus full of mentally ill old woman. She reaches the asylum only to have her as a mental patient. The doctors and matrony are as hard as the “stone walk and frozen stairways” of the mental hospital. They don’t try to understand Maria, rather treat her as a mental patient. Herculina, one of the matrons, even abuses her sexually. Her husband Saturno translates his dream of Maria in a “ragged wedding dress spaltered with blood” into the sign of Maria’s betrayal. When he meets her at last, he accepts Maria as a mental patient. Maria has at last, he accepts Maria as a mental patient. Maria has to surrender to this painful situation finding no other way.

In trial of your blood in the Snow, we find a lovely couple Nena Daconte and Billy Sanchez on their way to Paris from Cartagena de Indias as a honeymoon trip. When they reach Madrid, their country’s diplomatic mission welcomes them in the official reception room. The ambassador, who is also the doctor that delivered Nena Daconte, receives Nena with a bouquet; she pricks her finger on a thorn. She does not pay any heed to his mishap at first, but the bleeding continues and worries both her husband and herself. When they enter Paris, it is a “typical” Tuesday in an overcast filthy Parisian January, with a persistent rain that never solidifies into snow. Through this ordinary image the writer effectively alludes to the continuous bleeding of Nena Daconte that never congeals. This simple mishap leads to her death while Billy himself trapped in the mystery of foreign culture. That their accidental separation turns into a perpetual break reflects the uncertainty and mystery of this world.

In “Miss Forbes’s Summer of Happiness” the violent death of Miss Forbes and the way she accepts the death intensifies human loneliness in an uncertain world. The day before her death finds her in a floral mood who has already decided “I do not exist.” The crucifying “moray eel” a creature of mythical importance is used as a foreboding sign. The above mentioned examples stir our imagination to magical reality of life.

Besides these two categories, there are other examples in the book which represent life’s incongruities in confusing magical happenings. In “ I sell my Dreams” Fraw Frieda earns her living by dreaming. She can tell in advance with the help of her dreams. She foretells the death of her younger brother, warns the narrator of the possible danger, dreams of Pablo Nervda while he is dreaming of her. Though this magical power charms us we find that Fraw Frieda cannot save herself from an accident. The serpent-shaped good ring indicates the mystery of her magical power and leaves us in surprise.

In “The Ghosts of August” the narrator experiences the thrill of horror film in a setting where the fire play with its cold ashes and stone-like final log, the portrait of melancholy Ludovico, the dusty curtains, and the sheets soaked with still warm blood add to the feelings. In the “Saint” Margarito Duarte upholds himself as a saint while carrying the miraculously undecomposed body of his daughter. He overcomes human instincts in a way that sets him on par with his daughter. In these ways, magical happenings can share our life to embrace magical realism.

Mr. President or Maria dos Prazers highlights the magical joyous turn of human life. On the other hand, Neha Daconte and Billy Sanchez Maria can be thrilling as the narrator himself feels or surprising as we find in Margarito Duarte or Frau Frieda. Marquez has explored various magical happenings with exquisitely charming details in Strange Pilgrims.

Garcia Marquez emerges as a master of the style that became the hallmark of the “born generation”: magical realism. Based on the notion that there is no inherent driven between the natural and supernatural, magical realism juxtaposes detailed descriptions of mundane events with fantastical occurrences. 

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