Set in Liguria near the French Riviera, the two brothers, twelve-yearold Cosimo Piovasco di Rondo and eight year old Biagio, belong to anoble 18th century family whose estate is located in the vast forestlandscapes of Ombrosa.
The Baron in the Trees• In a rebellious fit after refusing to eat a dinner of snails prepared by Battista, his sadistic sister, Cosimo climbs up a tree and decides never to come down again.• He has had enough: enough of family and decorum, his proper role as a future Baron, and of everything on the ground.• Initially helped by Biagio, Cosimo eventually becomes self-sufficient as he creates a life for himself amongst the trees.
Baron Arminio Piovasco di Rondo• Cosimo and Biagio’s father.• Unfashionable, boring man because his life was dominated by conflicting ideas.• Set his heart on regaining the lapsed title of Duke of Ombrosa. Only thought of genealogies and successions and family rivalries and alliances with grandees near and far.• “Life at our home was like a constant dress rehearsal for an appearance at court…”(Calvino 5).
Baroness Corradina di Rondo aka the Generalessa• Mother• Used brusque military manners at the dinner table and no one found fault with her.• Held her sons not to etiquette, but to discipline.• Was taken around by her father, a widower, when he commanded the Empress Maria Theresa’s troops.• After marrying the Baron, she spent days in her room doing lace and embroidery to vent her warrior’s urge. -Usually designs of geographical maps or cannons• Still living in the times of war with her artillery, dreaming of a career for her boys in any army.
Abbe Fauchelefleur• Family tutor• Dry, wrinkled old man, with a reputation as a Jansenist (denies free will and maintains human nature is corrupt and Christ died for elect, not all humanity).• Not a traditional tutor. Often would stare off into space, weary, bored, and would tire easily of things.
Cavalier Avvocato Enea Silvio Carrega• Lawyer, administrator and waterworks supervisor of the Baron’s estates, and the children’s uncle and illegitimate brother of their father.• Has a deceitful side.
Battista• Sister, and “nun of the house”• Has staring eyes, narrow teeth set in a yellow rodent’s face.• Rebellious and lonely soul.• Confined to house and dressed as a nun after incident with the Marchesino della Mela.• Evil schemes found expressions in cooking (Calvino 9).
Biagio• Younger brother of Cosimo• Tries to help brother when first goes into the trees.• Somewhat of a “goody-goody.” Ate snails because he couldn’t bear the punishment.
Walnut Tree Mulberry Tree Carob TreeHolm Oak Tree Olive Tree Peach Tree Cherry Tree Fig Tree Plum Tree
Magical Realism• Magical elements blend with the real world• Magical realism is a story that takes place in an ordinary setting (this excludes futuristic space colonies, lost ancient cities et al.), incorporating spiritual elements (ghosts, spirits, angels, heavens, etc...) where extraordinary or even impossible things are viewed as normal and thus, nobody really bothers to explain why such things happen.
Magical Realism Con’t• In magical realism, the setting for a story is realistic, but elements of the fantastic or irrational are suddenly or steadily introduced.Examples: -a horse in an otherwise realistic setting begins to talk -an average, everyday South American village receives a visit from a man with wings -the corpse of a beautiful, eight-foot man washes up on a beach• Stories in this genre are NOT set in an entirely imaginary landscape or world. The effect is a sort of warping or defamiliarizing of everyday reality.
Can you find the elements of Magical Realism?!?
Examples of Magical Realism in Modern Day Film and Television• Groundhog Day: Bill Murry gets trapped in a weird time loop, for which no explanation is ever offered• Liar Liar• Stranger Than Fiction• Pan’s Labyrinth• Big Fish• The Curious Case of Benjamin Button• Lost• How I Met Your Mother??