cover image Borges, Between History and Eternity

Borges, Between History and Eternity

Hern%C3%A1n D%C3%ADaz. Continuum, $27.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-4411-97795

In this reworking of the literary legacy of Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, D%C3%ADaz, Associate Director of the Hispanic Institute at Columbia University, navigates two conflicting views of his subject: the position that frames Borges as "a writer utterly detached from reality, dealing in abstractions, literary puzzles, and unsolvable philosophical riddles," and the one that frames him as "an overtly political writer." D%C3%ADaz favors a chiasmic approach. That is, he argues that there's much historical engagement in Borges's mysticism and much mysticism in his historical engagement. D%C3%ADaz also analyses how two American writers, Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman, figure into Borges's opus, which mingles the symbolist strain of Poe with Whitman's humanist poetics. The book contends, further, that North American writers like Pynchon and Barth "got their own canon back, filtered through and transformed by Borges," and that one logical step for scholars to take would be to investigate Borges's influence in the United States, particularly on science fiction. The arena of Borges criticism is a crowded firmament and some of its stars are very dim indeed; by mediating two hardline critical positions, D%C3%ADaz's book adds to the luster and depth of the field. (Aug.)