Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2024

Document Type

M.A. Essay

First Advisor

Professor Roopika Risam


Against Romanticism, European literary realism of the 19th century aimed to provide an objective representation of reality through mimesis that could capture the truth in an objective way. Yet, its positivist approach severely narrowed down the complexity of truth, reality, and the mundane by wrongfully drawing the universal from the particular. A new way of engaging with realist literature from any time period, called Marvelous Ordinariness, rearranges this triad in ways that expand our understanding of our own and other realities portrayed. Using Alejo Carpentier’s description of “lo real maravilloso,” Marvelous Ordinariness unfolds in three layers that resemble Carl Jung’s unus mundus: recognition of multiple realities, acknowledgement of different epistemologies, and as healing method for life’s pessimism. When read in tandem, the short story “Gazebo” (1981) by American writer Raymond Carver and the novel Temporada de huracanes (2017) by Mexican writer Fernanda Melchor, embrace some of the conventional notions of realism’s structure–as articulated by Roland Barthes, Erich Auerbach, Georg Lukács and Frederic Jameson–while also exemplifying how Marvelous Ordinariness can operate inside and outside narratives that are not labeled as such.