Thursday, April 7, 2011

Revision-Borges Scholarly Article

Zach Duggan

Borges Scholarly Article

Alastair Reid writes Mapmaker of the Imaginary Worlds, a dedication to the works and life of Jorge Luis Borges. This article was published in 1986, four years after which Borges dies, in June of 1982. As a dedication article Reid opens with a quote towards the respects paid to Borges as a writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez said after receiving his Noble Prize for literature, “I still don’t understand why they don’t give it to him (Borges).[1]” The article is praise to the works and influences Borges has on Latin American writers and his use of irony in his works. Reid provides proof through the cleaver use of the word "fiction" and techniques that set Borges apart as an author from most.

Reid discusses his relationship with Jorge as idolizing. He began reading Borges in the 1950’s and started translating his work, which he describes as rewarding for himself as the translator. Since translating takes a great deal of understanding the text and time. Reid explains that he followed Borges in his interviews and speeches and began to keep conversation for a while. Reid says, “I never fail to be astonished at the breadth of his reading, the crispness of his memory, and the subtlety and wit of his observations.[2]” The relationship Reid had with Borges he listened and understood Borges like a player understands and listens to a coach.

My favorite part of the article is when Reid describes Borges understanding and fulfillment of books. A form of punishment Borges had growing up was his mother would take his books away from him[3]. This was not something most child’s would consider their greatest punishment. I believe his relationship with books is what makes him tick. Reading and writing was where his mind was centered most of the time. In an interview Borges, this who was almost entirely blind, considered himself a better reader than a writer. Borges has been honored for his influences his works in writing, it was his critical and understanding reading abilities help to improve his writing.

The title of our book by Jorge Luis Borges is Collected Fictions. The book is a collection of stories Borges has written and it is interesting that he called Collected Fictions. In Reid’s article he defines the word fiction and its relation to Borges. Borges being from Argentina, a Latin American country the word fiction may have a different meaning than that of English speaking countries. Reid explains, “Borges stories are always reminding us that they are verbal constructs. To mistake them for reality is to be deceived…[4]” This is where Reid interprets Borges meaning for the word fiction. A good way of looking at Borges fiction stories is to describe them as “verbal constructs.” I found this to be using words to build a bigger picture and isn’t that what Borges does in most of his fiction stories. Therefore, when Reid says, “to mistake them for reality is to be deceived,” Borges has such personal experiences that allow for us the reader to relate so well, we need to be reading with the idea that his stories are fiction and can in the end be misleading if the reader takes a different approach to the story.

Continuing in Reid’s article he quotes Borges saying, “the gap between language and reality is uncrossable.[5]” Borges involves so much personal experience and his flirtation with stories as fiction, discussing the gap between language and reality is something Reid makes important. Distinguishing the difference and keeping the two separated ideas is what allows Collected Stories as a title to be accepted to describe Borges stories. Reid earlier described fictions as “verbal constructs,” and later says, “Fictions are understood to be no more than linguistic formulations.[6]” I found it sort of redundant here in the essay. Reid explained earlier his way of looking at Borges stories as fictions and found it important to define the word “fiction.” I found in his essay in the same paragraph he repeated defining the word but using two synonyms.

As I said I found Reid to be rather redundant in the paragraph explaining Borges use of the word fiction. Later in the article this style, Reid says, “What distinguishes Borges from other writers, I think, is his particular effect his writings have on his readers. Certain words crop up again and again in his work.[7]” This style allows for Borges to be a known author and be recognized when readers read his work based on the “linguistic formulation.” According to Reid this is a style that makes Borges special and he is proving this through his certain style or trademarks. I found myself wondering what aspects of an author make him special? Could it be style? I find in techniques that Borges takes in his works and Reid proves in his essay allows for Borges to be a special author.

In class we discussed Borges how blindness can effect a writer. Borges created many fictional stories one in particular that stands in my mind, Dreamtigers. He is describing a dream to where he loves the animal a tiger. Yet in his dreams he struggles to see a perfect tiger where it mainly ends up looking closer to a bird. I believe blindness creates an open field for a persons mind, and for Borges his mind was running wild. This is helped make his creativity spark and create such inspiring fictions.

Reid says, “The circumstances of Borge’s life, spent among books, occupied with literature, are directly transmuted into the central images and figures in his writings.[8]” I believe Reid is pointing out an important aspect of writing, which is where does a writers inspirations come from? In Borges’ works his mind is his creativity. His life spent translating and reading books as allowed for Borges to become such an influential writer, and in Reid’s article he calls to mind the life Jorge Luis Borges lived and his works are pieces we all can experience and comprehend.

[1] Reid, Alastair. "Jorge Luis Borges: Mapmaker of Imaginary Worlds." The Wilson Quarterly 10.5 (1986): 142-147. Print.

[2] Reid, 142

[3] Reid, 143

[4] Reid, 144

[5] Reid, Alastair. "Jorge Luis Borges: Mapmaker of Imaginary Worlds." The Wilson Quarterly 10.5 (1986): 144. Print.

[6] Reid, 144

[7] Reid, 146

[8] Reid, 146

1 comment:

  1. Your choice of an essay to discuss was undeniably very good. The danger here (which you really struggle with, although you don't lose in every way) is to write an essay *about* another essay, rather than to simply tell us what that essay says. Your tendency is to summarize and then offer intermittent responses to that summary. Normally that comment would be a very critical thing to say, and I do mean it as being at least somewhat critical. However, I don't think that you're strictly summarizing Reid's essay: your responses are all interesting (re: blindness, re: what fiction means, etc.), and some of them - especially the Latin American definition of fiction vs. the Anglophone one - start you out in a very positive direction.

    But rather than identifying the most interesting concept in Reid and then using it to interpret a story or set of stories, in other words, to *apply* it, you simply continue to summarize and respond to Reid. One piece of effective research isn't enough to carry an essay, though, nor is a single piece of effective research plus a set of coherent thoughts about it. You needed to *do something* with these thoughts, and although you do show that you understand Reid's concept and how you might apply them, you *don't* apply them in any kind of depth.