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The language of dreams : a study of transcultural magical realism in four postcolonial texts.

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This research provides an analytical reading of four contemporary novels, in a transcultural study of magical realism and dreams. Two of the novels, Ben Okri's The Famished Road and its sequel Songs of Enchantment, examine dreams through magical realism in postcolonial African literature. The third novel, Toni Morrison's Beloved, is used to depict the use of memory within an African-American magical realist novel. And the fourth narrative is Irvine Welsh's Marabou Stork Nightmares, which focuses on the use of hallucination within what can be seen as a magical realist mode. The analysis of these novels examines certain aspects of magical realism, including the use of the subconscious, focusing primarily on dream, memory and hallucination. In examining this topic, I aim to suggest that the use of the subconscious, within this literature, allows the writer to comment on a particular society. As can be seen in previous studies of magical realism, the writer is able to express his or her dissatisfaction with society by destabilising conventionally accepted truths. A writer can therefore convey a sense that the surface of a particular culture or society is a facade, disguising certain hidden truths, which require a more in depth examination, in order to more fully understand the workings behind that society. The subconscious works to reveal these hidden realities, and is therefore a mode of resistance in that it allows the writers an avenue through which to express their dissatisfaction with their particular society. This is achieved through the exploring and deconstruction of certain boundaries within the novels which, along with several other factors, essentially concords the magical realism inherent in these texts. It is additionally enhanced through the use of the device of the subconscious, which allows the writers to transgress borders, and further explore their particular cultures. Through the use of novels from various contemporary societies, I hope to establish the fact that the subconscious, and therefore magical realism, is a transcultural technique, in that it traverses a multitude of cultures, without being specific to any one in particular. While the use of dreams requires a culture specific interpretation, the use of the subconscious in this literature can be seen as a global technique of expressing dissatisfaction within these societies.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2005.


Okri, Ben--Criticism and interpretation., Okri, Ben. Famished road, The., Okri, Ben. Songs of enchantment., Magic realism (Literature), Magic realism (Literature)--History and criticism., Postcolonial literature--History and criticism., Morrison, Toni--Criticism and interpretation., Morrison, Toni. Beloved., Welsh, Irvine, 1961- --Criticism and interpretation., Welsh, Irvine, 1961- . Marabou Stork Nightmares., Dreams in literature., Memory in literature., Theses--English.