The Circular Ruins may be thought of as one of the works of Herbert Quain. Herbert Quain writes of symmetry, backwards worlds, and mysteries, but what most represents the Circular Ruins is the story of Statements. The Circular Ruins parallels much of what was said about Herbert Quain’s Statements. The imagination, the fantasy, and the vanity all ring true in both stories. I also believe that is has significant meaning that The Circular Ruins and A Survey of the Works of Herbet Quain, are two of the eight stories in the section of The Garden of Forking Paths, making Statements and The Garden of Forking Paths, possibly one in the same.
Quain believed that “of the many kinds of pleasure literature can minister, the highest is the pleasure of the imagination.” (111) This statement explains The Circular Ruins and everything that it symbolizes; it also was his explanation of Statements. In the Circular Ruins, the dreamer musters up his best idea of a son and a man totally through his imagination. With this imagination, the dreamer is fully satisfied with his outcome and “his days were, in general, happy” (99), once he is able to accomplish this man all from his dreams and imagination. Borges also says in his foreword “”The Circular Ruins” is all unreal.” (67) This statement is the only one he makes of The Circular Ruins which shows the intensity of how unreal and imaginative it really is. The character Herbert Quain can explain his story of Statements by showing its unreal side, and Borges also explains Circular Ruins in the same fashion
Quain also states “There is no European man or woman that’s not a writer, potentially, or in fact.” (111) I think that the writer could be the sorcerer in the Circular Ruins. A writer is someone who uses his or her imagination and creates a piece of artwork. Essentially, the sorcerer is doing this in the Circular Ruins by using his imagination to conjure up a man, who is a piece of artwork in the end. After analyzing all of the detail of this man from his heart down to every hair on his body, there is no other word we could call the sorcerer except for artist.
However, “not everyone is capable of experiencing that pleasure, many will have to content themselves with simulacra.” (111) This is what the sorcerer does. He must create an image or a representation to completely experience the total pleasure of literature or imagination. Quain wrote Statements, which were based on this theory. In The Circular Ruins, there is even mention of the fear in the sorcerer that his son “would meditate upon his unnatural privilege and somehow discover that he was a mere simulacrum.” (100) Both Quain and Borges wrote of simulacrum in their stories, showing how significantly similar these two stories actually are toward each other. Quain, writing of the creation of simulacrum as a potential path to happiness and Borges writing of simulacrum as the sorcerer’s exact path of happiness show uncanny likeness toward each other and even more of a reason to find these two stories to be a part of each other.
Fourthly, Borges explains that “One of the stories hints at two plots; the reader, blinded by vanity, believes that he himself has come up with them” (111). I think that the reader can be interchanged here to be the sorcerer. The sorcerer has believed that he has created this imagination of a man, but really the God of Fire is the creator. The God of Fire is the inspiration to create the man, and he himself actually makes this dream a reality. The other plot that may be in the Circular Ruins is the thought that the dreamer has that his creation will not discover he is actually just an imagination. However, in the end, the imaginary man realized that he “was but appearance, that another man was dreaming him.” (100) I believe that both the dreamer and the imaginary man were blinded by vanity. The dreamer thought this man was so perfect and he had educated him so well, he did not think that he would realize that he was imaginary. The imaginary man thought he was so perfect and could do the unthinkable which was walk through fire that he never realized until the very end he was indeed imaginary. Vanity blinded the dreamer in two plots, however, just as Borges stated.
Finally, In describing the stories of Statements, it is said that “Each of them prefigures, or promises, a good plot, which is then intentionally frustrated by the author.” (111) In The Circular Ruins, the “good plot” is that in which there is a man that with the help of the God of Fire, creates an entirely new man out of his dreams and imagination after years of conjuring him up in his head. The plot line is so creative and great to follow, and then in the end this new man created from dreams realized his is nothing but imaginary and the ideal story is ruined for the reader and its protagonists. The Circular Ruins and Statements have the same ideals and thought processes making it quite difficult to believe they are separate entities.
When analyzing Statements and The Circular Ruins closer, I came to an extreme realization that The Garden of Forking Paths section of Borges novel is in fact one in the same with Statements. The Circular Ruins is a part of Statements just as The Circular Ruins is a part of The Garden of Forking Paths. The Garden of Forking Paths is a collection of eight stories, just as “Quain wrote the eight stories of Statements.” (111) If The Circular Ruins is a part of Statements which has been explained in much detail and it is also a part of The Garden of Forking Paths, then it is only plausible to assume the Garden of Forking Paths and Statements are the same pieces of literature both having eight stories that have much similarities.
Each of the eight stories in The Garden of Forking Paths can be related to one of the story descriptions Quain gives in his telling of Statements, just as The Circular Ruins was shown to describe itself to be one of the stories of Statements. We can compare these two collections of stories just as the maze and the book are compared in the story The Garden of Forking Paths. “Every one pictured two projects; it occurred to no one that book and labyrinth were one in the same.” (124) It did not occur to me that the Garden of Forking Paths and Statements were one in the same until deep readings multiple times. It makes sense that both collections have eight stories and each story is similar to the others stories just as Circular Ruins is similar to its descriptions in Statements. I think that the fact that The Survery of the Works of Herbert Quain and Circular Ruins were put in the same collection of The Garden of Forking Paths was very significant to show the similarities. I also believe that the fact that The Garden of Forking Paths is the last story in the collection of eight is there to show that parallel of the maze and the labyrinth being the same as The Garden of Forking Paths and Statements. Herbert Quain, being an imaginary author, must be Borges explanation of his works in his book of Collected Fictions without making it explicitly about himself.
With these few last words in A Survey of the Works of Herbert Quain, I believe that The Circular Ruins may be part of the works of Statements and the Statements and the Garden of Forking Paths are the same collection of eight stories. With the exclamations of Borges and Quain, we can see that these two stories run parallel and one is definitely part of the other as well as the collections being one total entity just named differently.