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Jorge Luis Borges

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Juliana Bertosa

on 2 April 2013

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Transcript of Jorge Luis Borges

1941 The Garden of Forking Paths What makes this a Detective Story? The Message Borges uses this story to explore the possibility of infinite timelines, in which each time you are presented with a choice, you create two alternate timelines. These vast alternatives are explored simultaneously, with death bringing enlightenment. How he does it Borges sets us up for failure, right from the beginning. The name of the person "capable of transmitting the message" is often interpreted as another spy, the single bullet in Yu Tsun's revolver suggests that he will commit suicide if captured, and the "Chief" is constantly perusing newspapers. Borges spends a good amount of the story devoted to creating an abstract metaphor for time. The title itself is a model to help readers envision the diverging network that Ts'ui Pen imagines time to be. Symbolism The Labyrinth Stephen Albert asks Yu Tsun "in a riddle whose answer is chess, what is the prohibited word?" to which the answer is of course chess. In Borges' story of infinitely forking paths, what is the prohibited word which is also the solution to its riddle? Death and the Compass Jorge Luis Borges Life Work Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1899, Jorge Luis Borges lived until the age of 87.
Borges younger sister Norah was his only real childhood friend and they often acted out scenes from books. Bibliography The first prize Borges received for his works was the Second Municipal Prize, which amounts to about $250 Canadian dollars. Borges had limited relationships to women, which resulted in him marrying quite late in life, when he was 78. The marriage lasted less than three years, due to the fact that his wife had been married previously before and was used to the tranquil married life, whereas Borges still traveled quite extensively. Borges was often featured in magazines such as Megafono and Sur, and newspapers like Critica. In 1960 he published El hacedor or “The Maker,” which was later retitled in English as Dreamtigers. Essentially a collection of prose pieces, parables, and poems, Borges considered El hacedor to be his best, and most personal, work. In 1986, at the age of 87 Jorge Luis Borges died of liver cancer in Geneva. As well as being a successful writer of short stories, Borges also wrote intricate poems, essays, screenplays, literary criticisms and edited numerous anthologies. In 1908 Borges began school, but came to loathe it for many of the same reasons that most of us still do today. He dressed differently, wore thick glasses and had a superior intellect, making him a relentless target for bullying. Throughout the gradual loss of his eyesight, Borges became more focused on poetry, some of his most famous being "Instants", "Things" and "The Golem". Instants If I could live again my life,
In the next - I'll try,
- to make more mistakes,
I won't try to be so perfect,
I'll be more relaxed,
I'll be more full - than I am now,
In fact, I'll take fewer things seriously,
I'll be less hygenic,
I'll take more risks,
I'll take more trips,
I'll watch more sunsets,
I'll climb more mountains,
I'll swim more rivers,
I'll go to more places - I've never been,
I'll eat more ice creams and less (lime) beans,
I'll have more real problems - and less imaginary
ones,
I was one of those people who live
prudent and prolific lives -
each minute of his life,
Offcourse that I had moments of joy - but,
if I could go back I'll try to have only good moments,

If you don't know - thats what life is made of,
Don't lose the now!

I was one of those who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer,
without a hot-water bottle,
and without an umberella and without a parachute,

If I could live again - I will travel light,
If I could live again - I'll try to work bare feet
at the beginning of spring till
the end of autumn,
I'll ride more carts,
I'll watch more sunrises and play with more children,
If I have the life to live - but now I am 85,
- and I know that I am dying ... Borges was particularly popular for his non-fictions early on in life, before he developed his personal writing style. One notable work includes "The Labyrinth of the Detective Story and Chesterton". Borges also took to writing and performing lectures around the world and one that might interest you is called "The Detective Story". The Labyrinth of the Detective Story and Chesterton The most important aspect of this essay is Borges' outlining rules for the Detective short story. A discretional limit of six characters.
The declaration of all the terms of the problem.
An avaricious economy of means.
The priority of how over who.
A reticence* concerning death
A solution that is both necessary and marvelous. * The state or quality of being reluctant; unwillingness Quotes from "the Detective Story" "We have, then the detective story as an intellectual genre, a genre based on something entirely fictitious: the idea that a crime is solved by abstract reasoning ad not by informants or by carelessness on the part of the criminal. Poe knew what he was doing was not realistic..." "Currently, the detective genre has greatly declined in the United States, where it has become realistic [procedural] and about violence. The intellectual origins of he detective story have been forgotten." "I have on occasion attempted the detective genre, but I'm not very proud of what I have done. I have taken it to a symbolic level, which I am not sure is appropriate." Throughout his career, Borges managed to published quite a few books, including 8 strictly devoted to his short stories and prose fiction. The Universal History of Infamy The Garden of Forking Paths Borges was notable for his work with translation. He translated works of literature in English, French, and German into Spanish. He also wrote and lecture extensively on the subject. At the age of nine, Borges was published for the first time for his translation of Oscar Wilde. Something which bothered the author is that he was never awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He was nominated several times but never won. Some people speculate that Borges never received the award due to his conservative political views. He never spoke out against the activities of his government and many feel that it is a fatal flaw in a "good" writer. In 1914, his family moved to Geneva, where Borges attended the College Calvin and finally made some friends. It was here that Borges experienced symbolist literature and discovered a completely new way of relating to the world through abstract literature. It was in 1919, that Borges decided to become a serious writer, and he even wrote two books of essays and poems, though he destroyed both within two years. It wasn't until 1923, when Borges returned to Buenos Aires, that he felt comfortable to bring out his collection of poems. The family did a bit of traveling, and when they returned in 1924, they found that Borges had developed a reputation as a poet. Borges didn't marry again until the last year of his life, to a former student of his name Maria Kodama. Borges' work was translated into English and he became heavily in demand. It was translated into several other languages and achieved notoriety that no other Latin American writer had. In 1961, he experienced America for the first time. Borges, Jorge. Selected Fictions. Translated by Andrew Hurley. New York, New York: Penguin Group, 1999.
Borges, Jorge. Selected Non- Fictions. Translated by Esther Allen, Suzanne Jill Levine, and Eliot Weinberger. New York, New York: Penguin Group, 1999.
Cambridge. The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction. Edited by Martin Priestman. New York, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Ruch, Allen. "Biography of J.L. Borges." The Modern Word, 21 September, 2004. 10 March 2013. <http://www.themodernword.com/borges/borges_biography.html>
"Instants." Famous Poets and Poems. 2010. 10 March, 2013. <http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/jorge_luis_borges/poems/2918>
"Jorge Luis Borges." 2013. The Biography Channel website. 12 March, 2013. <http://www.biography.com/people/jorge-luis-borges-9220057.> "The Garden of Forking Paths" is a detective story, but one in which the reader is the detective and time is the solution to the mystery. This story serves as a sort of parody of the genre, and doesn't really fit into the conventional ideals of what a detective story is. What the story does have is certain elements of the genre;
murder
guns
mystery
drama
an intricately woven plot
a chase In this case, Borges is the mastermind leaving behind all the necessary clues for the detective.
Borges is not really concerned with writing a good detective story, so much as with showing how an imitation of the genre could be used to generate more philosophical messages. Each individual in the world is different, therefore each interaction between two people will produce unknowable consequences. Through this story, Borges explores the possibilities of fate and reminds us that each choice we make will matter, no matter how insignificant. He does, however, give us a few hints along the way to finding the solution; at the beginning of the story, we are only given two possible outcomes- death or an arrest. Borges distracts the reader with talk of the present and forking paths and labyrinths that we almost forget why Yu Tsun is there- to send a message to the Germans. Quotes to Highlight "Then I reflected that all things happen, happen to one, precisely now. Century follows century, and things happen only in the present."

"I thought of a maze of mazes, of a sinuous, ever growing maze which would take in both past and future and would somehow involve the stars."

"I leave to various future times, but not to all, my garden of forking paths." Time Betrayal & Loyalty From Yu Tsun's narrative, we can infer that he's a believer in fate, and that the future is out of his hands. He acts as if he is sure of his fate, that his death is impending and unavoidable.
When he is presented the accounts of his ancestor's novel, he is forced to reconsider his ideals about fate. Do you think certain parts of the story indicate that Yu Tsun's fate is determined from the beginning? The boys at the train station know that Yu Tsun is going to Stephen Albert's house.
Stephen Albert allows a stranger into his house without much question, as if expecting him.
Stephen Albert and Yu Tsun discuss being enemies and allies, and in a possible timeline, killer and victim. Quotes to Highlight "To them I offer this advice: Whosoever would undertake some atrocious enterprise should act as if it were already accomplished, should impose upon himself a future as irrevocable as the past."

"Lost in these imaginary illusions I forgot my destiny – that of the hunted."

'"A strange destiny," said Stephen Albert, "that of Ts'ui Pen"...'

"In the black and yellow garden there was only a single man, but this man was as strong as a statue and this man was walking up the path and he was Captain Richard Madden.
"The future exists now," I replied." In a story about secret agents and war, it's no wonder the topic of betrayal would arise. Ones devotion to race and country force people to work for terrible people and murder their friends.
Yu Tsun betrays not only his ally, but himself as well. His final words signify the cost of his mission. Quotes to Highlight "An Irishman in the service of England, a man suspected of equivocal feelings if not of actual treachery, how could he fail to welcome and seize upon this extraordinary piece of luck: the discovery, capture and perhaps the deaths of two agents of Imperial Germany?"

"I carried out my plan because I felt The Chief had some fear of those of my race, of those uncountable forebears whose culmination lies in me. I wished to prove to him that a yellow man could save his armies."

"I foresee that man will resign himself each day to new abominations, that soon only soldiers and bandits will be left." "He knew that my problem was to shout, with my feeble voice, above the tumult of war, the name of the city called Albert, and that I had no other course open to me than to kill someone of that name. He does not know, for no one can, of my infinite penitence and sickness of heart." Fate and Free Will Borges loves to use the image of a labyrinth in his works, and clearly in this story it is a central concept. For Borges, a labyrinth isn't just a physical space, like the garden behind Stephen Albert's house, where you disappear for a few hours, but it can also be an idea that you get lost in. When Yu Tsun is taking the labyrinthine path to Stephen Albert's house, he gets lots in his own thoughts: "I thought of a maze of mazes, of a sinuous, ever growing maze which would take in both past and future and would somehow involve the stars." Ts'ui Pen's novel is also a labyrinth, composed of multiple pathways and endings. Finally! Something that looks like a detective story! Mention of Poe The Labyrinth Themes The detective is on a search for knowledge, but he reads too much into the clues and misunderstands what he sees. Borges uses this story as a commentary of the pedestal on which writers put their detectives. They build elaborate scenarios for the sole purpose of highlighting their character's genius. Here, however, the over-analytical brain of the detective is his own downfall. Lonnrot is a great detective, one who solves mysteries by pure reasoning, like Auguste Dupin. He sees the message on the typewriter and forms an elaborate scenario in which Jewish people are being sacrificed.

Some critics choose to compare Treviranus to the character of Watson- simple in his thinking and a common sense man. He rejects "rabbinical explanations". He's not a dumb cop who is in conflict with Lonnrot like in the hard-boiled tradition.

If we regard each character in relation to Poe, then perhaps the character of Red Schlarch could be regarded as the highly intelligent opponent of Sherlock Holmes, Professor Moriarty. He is confident and has a temper, as well as having a vengeful steak and a strong desire to kill his enemy. Scharlach is incredibly clever like Moriarty in the way that he brilliantly traps Lonnrot by leading him to his death with intelligent clues that he knows the detective wouldn't overlook. The house that Lonnrot is lead to is an endless maze of hidden stairways and mirrors at each points. The house is symmetrical, making for a very confusing trip for our detective. Reason's reliability- Borges plays with this theme a lot throughout the story. He questions man's ability to employ reason and the universe's reasonable nature, implying that neither are trustworthy. By reversing the traditional detective genre, Borges insinuates that we are unable to objectively understand reality since signs and clues don't correlate with reality. Borges highlights the advantages and boundaries of reasoning through a controversial ending that pertains to the reality of one's reasoning. Good does not triumph evil in this tale and in life.

Borges also calls into question the fundamental ability of human analysis and whether we can draw reasonable conclusions.
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