Reading literature can be a magical experience — sometimes literally.
Yes, some novels feature protagonists with powers beyond that of mere mortals. An obvious example includes the witches and wizards in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, but many other fictional works and genres also include characters who do astounding things.
One such genre is magic realism. So we have someone like Clara in Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits who’s clairvoyant and telekinetic, and Remedios in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude who eventually ascends into the sky…without boarding an airplane.
Which reminds me of how Margarita in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita flies with some help from the devil. Certainly, special powers can be used for good or for evil — or some combination of the two, because Margarita is a sympathetic character in Bulgakov’s book while the devil unsurprisingly isn’t.
Sci-fi is also well-represented when it comes to characters possessing unusual abilities, as with the “hyperempathetic” Lauren in Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower who can literally feel the pain of others.
Which reminds me of Matty in Lois Lowry’s Messenger who can heal others without the least bit of medicine — albeit at some danger to himself. Indeed, having special powers can be a double-edged sword that might make readers feel uneasy about a character’s future in addition to reveling in the wish-fulfullment of seeing those powers in action.
We also have Johnny in Stephen King’s The Dead Zone who wakes up psychic after being in a coma.
Living for an incredibly long time is also kind of magical. The vampires and other characters in various Anne Rice novels, the more-than-2,000-year-old Lazarus Long in various Robert A. Heinlein sci-fi books, the 250-year-old High Lama in James Hilton’s Lost Horizon, the nearly 300-year-old Cormac in Pete Hamill’s Forever, and so on.
And, getting back to wizards, we can’t forget the powers of Gandalf (pictured atop this blog post) in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
Your favorite characters who fit this topic?
My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.
In addition to this weekly blog, I write the award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest weekly piece — about an ugly hotel and some election issues — is here.