Borges, Between History and Eternity by Hernán Díaz

By Hernán Díaz

That Borges is without doubt one of the key figures in twentieth-century literature is past debate. the explanations at the back of this declare, even though, are an issue of rivalry. In Latin the United States he's learn as an individual who reorganized the canon, puzzled literary hierarchies, and redefined the function of marginal literatures. nonetheless, within the remainder of the area, so much readers (and dictionaries) are inclined to determine the adjective "Borgesian" with tricky metaphysical puzzles and labyrinthine speculations of common achieve, thoroughly indifferent from specific traditions. One analyzing is context-saturated, whereas the opposite is context-deprived. Oddly adequate, those "institutional" and "transcendental" methods haven't been pitched opposed to one another in a severe manner. Borges, among historical past and Eternity brings those views jointly through contemplating key features of Borges's work—the reciprocal determinations of politics, philosophy and literature; the at the same time confining and emancipating nature of language; and the incipient software for a literature of the Americas.

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In a 1944 essay, “A New Refutation of Time” [“Nueva refutación del tiempo”], Borges quotes Berkeley profusely, and transcribes the relevant paragraph from the Principles of Human Knowledge. “For as to what is said of the absolute existence of unthinking things without any relation to their being perceived, that seems perfectly unintelligible. Their esse is percipi, nor is it possible they should have any existence, out of the minds or thinking things which perceive them” (Berkeley 25; Borges SNF 319; OC 759).

God and country To be something they didn’t know, to be Argentines; To be what they would be by virtue Of the oath taken in that old house. We are the future of those men, The justification of those dead. Our duty is the glorious burden Bequeathed to our shadow by those shadows; It is ours to save. No one is the homeland—it is all of us. May that clear, mysterious fire burn Without ceasing, in my breast and yours. (SP 237) [Nadie es la patria. Ni siquiera el jinete Que, alto en el alba de una plaza desierta, Rige un corcel de bronce por el tiempo, Ni los otros que miran desde el mármol, Ni los que prodigaron su bélica ceniza Por los campos de América O dejaron un verso o una hazaña O la memoria de una vida cabal En el justo ejercicio de los días.

Such I take this important one to be, to wit, that all the choir of heaven and furniture of the earth, in a word all those bodies which compose the mighty frame of the world, have not any subsistence without a mind, that their being is to be perceived or known; that consequently so long as they are not actually perceived by me, or do not exist in my mind or that of any other created spirit, they must either have no existence at all, or else subsist in the mind of some eternal spirit. ” It should be added that the parenthetical segment in the poem is an almost literal transcription of a passage from the title essay of his 1936 book History of Eternity: “The universe requires eternity.

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