Monday, June 14, 2010

Intro to Borges, continued: Borges' medium of literature

This is a continuation of a series of posts that begins with an introduction in my previous post:

In an article about the life of Jorge Luis Borges (available here for those who have access to JSTOR), Alastair Reid describes him as a "mapmaker of imaginary worlds." This is a fairly comprehensive job description. To understand what Borges did with literature, it is valuable to see what literature did for him. Borges was intensely interested in books. One of the most important fixtures of his childhood was his father's library, which was largely in English, and introduced Borges to a wide scope of artistic and historical knowledge. He would spend long periods of time immersing himself in the worlds of books and libraries. He eventually became the director of the  National Library in Buenos Aires. His role as an avid reader and librarian colored his own approach to writing. His mind was wide open to the possibilities and the expansiveness of liturature, but he was also aware of the artificiality and astractness of the medium. Ficciones, his Spanish title for his collected stories, emphasizes the falseness of his linguistic creations. Although many of these stories play with the fabric of reality, Borges has made a clear distinction between this wordplay and reality. The literary metaphysicians in Tlön Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, of which a further discussion is to follow, as they set aside reality were able to freely determine how to define their imaginary world. Likewise, Borges, in his cartography of his own domain, the medium of books, showed that it could be sculpted into whatever the power of words could make of it.


  1. This ties in well with your last post, so consider adding a link back to it.

  2. Interesting, but is this just an historical background or did you want to connect this to your argument? I wasn't sure what you were trying to accomplish with this post.

  3. Here's a quote I thought you might like to use. It's not strictly related to this post, but maybe stick it in somewhere else if you find it relevant.

    "[T]he Internet is not a wide-open space, with nodes and links to nodes distributed in random fashion such that any one site is equally likely to get hits as any other site. This open, smooth, virtual world of endless and equal opportunity is a fantasy." (Boler 115)

    Link to text at