F. Pauw


The term ‘magic realism’, normally reserved for twentieth-century
novels with a mixture of realistic and fantastic elements, has not,
to my knowledge, been applied to the comedies of Aristophanes.
In this article I examine whether there are similarities between
Aristophanes’ comedies and magic realism. First, the origin,
development and meaning of the term ‘magic realism’ are explored.
Then, Italo Calvino’s 1952 novella, The cloven Viscount, is
investigated as example of magic realism. The next section examines
the duality of Aristophanes’ comedies: they not only allude to the
socio-political realities of late-fifth-century Athens but also hinge on
plots of comic fantasy. This scheme is then applied to the
Aristophanic comedy Birds. In the penultimate section a comparison
is drawn between magic realism, as exemplified in The cloven
Viscount, and Aristophanic comedy, as exemplified in Birds. The
conclusion is devoted to an attempt to account for the similarities in
such disparate genres.

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ISSN 2079-2883 (online); ISSN 0303-1896 (print)

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