Since we read Jorge’s Borges collection of works, I was very interested in influences of Borges work, especially to other writers. His influential works clearly impacted many writers, Octavio Paz being one of them. In Octavio Paz’s “ In Time’s labyrinth”, he first introduced Borges by saying that he began to read Borges in his youth and he said, “he could not stop reading it and conversing silently with its author” (Paz 30). Octavio once imagined that Borges himself was a fictional being (Paz30), which expresses Octavio’s amazement and awe toward Borges and his work.
Although Borges is a famous, well-renowned writer of his period, he also was an outsider as much as he was a respected insider. In the article, Paz said that he was surprised by Borges’ dispiritedness about the situation in his country and he had become a celebrity but at the same time, he is surrounded by enemies and by treacherous envy of people (Paz 31). Because his works were written during the World War II, there was a lot of tension and pressure among countries, and his works that made a commentary about the war or the state of the world at that time, had a wave of impact on people in general. As a result, Borges had a group of admirers but also pressured severely by anti- Borges that strongly refuted Borges’ ideas. This reminds me of Borges’ “Garden of Forking Path”. In the story, all the characters Yu Tsun, Richard Madden and Stephen Albert, were all peculiar outsiders of their cultures. Maybe Borges was trying to reflect a part of him through those characters, because he, too, was an outsider.
Although he was an outsider, he did not care about what others thought of him. Borges expressed his views clearly though his writing. Especially, his ideas about unreality were what were fascinating the most. Octavio vehemently praised Borges’ writing and said, “His was a mind of uncommon clarity, united with the fantasy of a poet attracted by the ‘other side’ of reality… The great achievement of Borges was to say the most with the least” (Paz 32). When I read this line of the article, I could not agree more. Borges fictions are all arranged as short stories. However, the content and ideas that he gathers in stories are extreme, fascinating and complex. I sometimes wonder how he could put in all the ideas in one story. For Example, “Circular Ruin” is a story of a sorcerer dreaming of a boy and creating a boy, but inside of other man’s dream. It is a very simple and concise fiction in a way. However, when we look deeper into the novel, the ideas of Gnosticism, infinity, and how all these topics are incorporated in just two pages is just compelling.
Throughout the essay, Octavio describes Borges as an inventor with extreme ideas numerous times. Octavio also argues that Borges loved the idea of extreme, but always presented it with a limited and clear form, with a beginning and an end (Paz 34). I especially love when Octavio wrote that “ He [Borges] thought that eternities and infinities could fit on a page” (Paz). Topics like infinity, eternity, death, life, are so larger than life and so broad that even other writers takes pages after pages to write about these things. However, Borges examines these topics with limit and impact.
Paz, Octavio. “In Time’s Labyrinth”. New Republic 3 November 1983. Vol. 195 Issue 18, p30-34, 5p, 1 Black and White Photograph. Points of View Reference Center. 25 March 2011.