Although Calvino’s work does not fit neatly into existing categories of literature, ‘‘The Garden of Stubborn Cats’’ is perhaps best described by the magic realism . Magic realism is literature that depicts a realistic setting and characters but also contains some fantastical or inexplicable elements. These fantastical elements are treated by the characters and by the author with a ready acceptance and a subdued, matter-of-fact tone. In other words, the fantasy elements of the story are given the same credibility as the more realistic elements, instead of being treated as something unbelievable or extraordinary. Magic realism has also been described as literature that blurs the distinction between the real and the fantastical. In all cases, magic realism is notable for its grounding in a realistic setting rather than a fantasy-based world.
Magic realism is primarily identified as a genre arising broadly from Latin American culture. Cuban author Alejo Carpentier was one of the first to advance the notion of Latin American literature as a mix of the real and the magical in his novel The Kingdom of this World (1957). Jorge Luis Borges, an Argentine author, wrote many stories in the 1930s that intertwined the real with the unreal and often focused on literature itself as a topic, as some of Calvino’s works do. Perhaps the single most significant work of magic realism, in terms of the genre’s recognition on the world stage, is the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude (1970) by Colombian author Gabriel Garcı´a Ma´ rquez.
Although magic realism is mainly associated with Latin American writers, British Indian author Salman Rushdie’s 1981 novel Midnight’s Children is considered by many to be a landmark work of the genre. This story chronicles the lives of supernaturally gifted children born just as India achieves its independence in 1948. It is worth noting that Calvino’s stories in Marcovaldo were written before magic realism was recognized as part of any literary movement and were written independent of the development of such fiction in other regions of the world.
Sara Constantakis – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 31, Italo Calvino, Published by Gale Group, 2010