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Title: Porous borders : the amorphous nature of magical realist fiction in Asia and Australasia
Author: Holgate, Ben
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 3122
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis aims to broaden the scope of magical realism by examining contemporary fiction in Asia and Australasia, regions which have been largely neglected in critical discussion of the narrative mode. My research seeks to modify and expand our collective conception of magical realism through key texts that challenge not only how we read the narrative mode, but also our expectations of it. My analysis involves a dual intervention in the fields of postcolonial studies and world literature. I supplement existing scholarship of magical realism with new paradigms of critical thought, such as epistemology, mythopoeia, ecocriticism, intertextuality and discourse on human rights. Each of the key authors - Indigenous Australian Alexis Wright, New Zealand Maoris Keri Hulme and Witi Ihimaera, Indian-born cosmopolitans Amitav Ghosh and Salman Rushdie, and Chinese Nobel laureate Mo Yan - subjects the narrative mode to differing intellectual, socio-cultural and historical frameworks, and in the process reinvents magical realism to serve their own artistic purposes. The authors' key texts demonstrate the need to recalibrate theory on magical realism in contexts such as Alexis Wright's depiction of ongoing colonisation of Australia's first inhabitants in a supposedly postcolonial country, and Mo Yan's critique of post-communist China. I argue that magical realism has porous borders, not only geographically and culturally, but also in the sense that the narrative mode frequently spills over into other, different generic kinds such that the distinctions between them are often blurred. In addition, magical realism's constant state of transformation makes it particularly difficult to define. Therefore, I propose a minimalist definition of the narrative mode and a flexible approach. However, underlying cultural elements and individual artistic expression in a text may sometimes limit magical realism's utility as a tool for literary analysis. Finally, I explore the notion of a genealogy of magical realism based on polygenesis, emerging in different cultures at different times.
Supervisor: Mukherjee, Ankhi Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Magic realism (Literature) ; Postcolonialism in literature ; English literature--21st century--History and criticism