Hallucinatory realism

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Hallucinatory realism is a term that has been used with various definitions since at least the 1970s by critics in describing works of art. In some occurrences the term has had connections to the concept of magical realism,[1] although hallucinatory realism is usually more specific to a dream-state. The term occurs in the motivation for Mo Yan's Nobel Prize in Literature.


In 1975, Clemens Heselhaus used it to describe the poetry of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff,[2] although it was criticized in a book review as an "oxymoronic" term that did not fully capture the striking imagery of the poems. University of California Davis professor Elisabeth Krimmer praised von Droste-Hülshoff's hallucinatory realism because "the transition to the dream world is even more compelling because it is preceded by a detailed description of the natural environment."[3]

In 1981, The Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Art listed hallucinatory realism as one trend of surrealism—"a careful and precise delineation of detail, yet a realism which does not depict an external reality since the subjects realistically depicted belong to the realm of dream or fantasy."[1]

In 1983, in his paper Halluzinatorischer Realismus (page 183.) Burkhardt Lindner defined hallucinatory realism as the attempt to make the bygone present with a documentary factuality and at an Aesthetic enhancement of the reality.[4]

Goethe University Frankfurt professor Burkhardt Lindner discussed it in the paper "Hallucinatory Realism: Peter Weiss' Aesthetics of Resistance, Notebooks, and the Death Zones of Art" (New German Critique, 1983).[4] In this paper about Peter Weiss, Lindner says:

Weiss calls his Trotsky drama "a play that is documentary only in a limited sense, and would rather have take shape as a vision, almost hallucinatory." The expressions vision, hallucination, and schizophrenia should make one suspicious of the claim to true-to-life reproduction. Hallucinatory Realism - this is the attempt to blend the numerous characters into a breadth, an openness, a secret connection, a synchronism and a network of memory into a "We".[4]

Lindner goes on to say "The treatment of hallucinatory realism seeks to achieve a dream-analogous authenticity."

The term occurs in the motivation for Mo Yan's Nobel Prize in Literature.[5] The term is used in four of the five official versions of the press release (English, French, German, and Spanish);[6] however, in the presumably original Swedish version, the term "hallucinatorisk skärpa" ("hallucinatory sharpness") is used instead.[7] The award was announced in Swedish and English.[8]

In a review by Joy Press of the novel My Life as a Fake by Peter Carey, hallucinatory realism is used to describe how the book manages to make imaginary universes feel concrete and believable.[9] In an essay on the filmmaker Maya Deren, the term hallucinatory realism is used in a sentence about making reality and subjectivity indistinguishable.[10] The term hallucinatory realism has also been used by different critics to describe works by the writers Peter Weiss[11] and Tomi Ungerer,[12] Pasolini's film The Gospel According to St Matthew,[13] and the novel Paradise Alley by Kevin Baker.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Harold Osborne (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Art. p. 529.
  2. ^ Larry D. Wells (January 1975). "Annette von Droste-Hülshoff: Werk und Leben by Clemens Heselhaus. Review by: Larry D. Wells". The German Quarterly. 48 (1). JSTOR 403458.
  3. ^ Elisabeth Krimmer (2001). "A Perfect Intimacy with Death: Death, Imagination, and Femininity in the works of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff". Women in German Yearbook. 17: 132. doi:10.1353/wgy.2001.0006. JSTOR 20688927.
  4. ^ a b c Burkhardt Lindner (Autumn 1983). "Hallucinatory Realism: Peter Weiss' Aesthetics of Resistance, Notebooks, and the Death Zones of Art". New German Critique: Duke University Press. Duke University Press. 30. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 - Press Release". Nobelprize.org. 12 October 2012.
  7. ^ "Nobelpriset i litteratur år 2012 - Pressmeddelande". Nobelprize.org (in Swedish). Nobel Media. 2012-10-11. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  8. ^ video
  9. ^ Press, Joy (Nov 4, 2003). "My Little Phony". The Village Voice.
  10. ^ Catherine Russel (2003). Ivone Margulies, ed. "Ecstatic Ehnography: Maya Deren and the Filming of Possession Rituals". Rites of Realism: Essays on Corporeal Cinema. Duke University Press. p. 270. ISBN 9780822330660. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  11. ^ Burkhardt Lindner, Luke Springman and Amy Kepple (Autumn 1983). "Hallucinatory Realism: Peter Weiss' Aesthetics of Resistance, Notebooks, and the Death Zones of Art". New German Critique. New German Critique: 127–156. JSTOR 487836.
  12. ^ Serge Jongué (automne 1981). "Le réalisme hallucinatoire de Tomi Ungerer". Vie des Arts. 26, numéro 104: 42–44. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  13. ^ Catherine Rosario (A2 November 2000). "Pier Paolo Pasolini's Gospel According to St. Matthew". Suite101. Retrieved 13 September 2013. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  14. ^ Bresnick, Adam (October 13, 2002). "Burn, baby, burn". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 September 2013.

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