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Jorge Luis Borges and his cat

Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo (24 August 1899- 14 June 1986), known as Jorge Luis Borges or simply Borges, was an Argentinian writer, poet and translator. Borges is considered a key figure of Spanish-Language and international literature. His work, which has deep relation with philosophy, often characterized as a mixture of literature-philosophy. Moreover, he influenced the magic realist movement in the 20th century Latin-American literature.

However, until 1961, when he received the Formentor Prize, shared with Samuel Beckett, he was not famous. He was popular mostly in Argentina. Except from some translations in English during the 40s and the 50s, where he contributed in literary magazines and anthologies, his audience were Spanish speakers.

To begin with, his literature could be characterized as a thumbnail of the universe. We usually find in his short-stories descriptions of infinite, homocentric labyrinths, which lead his heroes to perplexed situations of failure and illusions. His aesthetics are mostly neo-baroque. He also makes massive use of intertextuality with references from Shaw, Menard, Kafka up to Pythagoras and Basilides. The content of his stories emphasizes on this essence of non-linearity and indeterminacy. Those stories deal with lotteries in the poor neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, the gardens of Babylon and the libraries of Babel.

Furthermore, a (literal) universe beyond this non-linear structure also demands order, a geometric order. This is perfectly seen in his essays ‘’ The Death and the Compass’’ and the ‘’Library of Babel’’. In the first, we see a rhomboid plot, whilst in the second, the library consists of an infinite number of hexagonal tunnels with the same layout of twenty shelves in each side. Through this ordering, the writer achieves the ironic and self-willing participation to the inevitable. The unchangeable. The eternal.

In another essay of Borges ‘’ the Utopia of a Tired Person’’, the writer tries to pass to a completely different direction, far from any kind of order. He describes the figure of a mysterious time traveler, in places with no state, government, money even time and memory. In this ideal society, a hope starts to rise. We can find this kind of romantic hope and in other passages of his work. Over there, he speaks about tango, the stabbers and gauchos symbols of bravery and disobedience to the Argentinian law.

Finally, Borges, as a self-proclaimed Spencerian anarchist, will adopt a view of disobedience to the law. At the end of his life, his blindness gradually got worse. He had a clear anti-Peronist and anti-fascist positions, as well as anti-communist. He was against any form of state intervention, as well as he also rejected ‘’revolution’’. Why? Because he thought that it can lead to new forms of totalitarianism and oppression. In his essay mentioned above ‘’ the Utopia of a Tired Person’’, the main hero Eduardo Asevedo says: The planet is full of collective specters : Canada, Brazil, Belgian Congo, Common Market.

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