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Borges, Second Edition

The Passion of an Endless Quotation

Lisa Block de Behar

Publication Year: 2014

Expanded edition with new chapters and updates to the translation and bibliography.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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Author’s Introduction

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pp. vii-xii

When speaking of Borges, neither does passion fade nor are quotes diminished, and an ambivalent affection both animates and afflicts readers as they, excited by a laborious fervor, are drawn toward the same pages already run over a thousand and one times before. Incited, they attempt to turn their...

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Translator’s Introduction to the First Edition

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pp. xiii-xx

Barthes once wrote that the only way to read a work of passion is with another work of passion. What was true for Barthes is equally true for Lisa Block de Behar, whose four or more decades of scholarly activity have produced an imposing body of scholarship on the work of Jorge Luis Borges...

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1. First Words

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pp. 1-4

Even at the risk of falling into redundancies from the start, one would have to recognize, once again, the gravitation of quotations in Borges’s universe, where, unbeholden to time, though without eluding the facts of their origin, quotations allow for the repetition of several discourses at once. On more...

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2. Variations on a Letter avant-la-lettre

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pp. 5-14

If the aesthetic, theoretical, and hermeneutic present is debated in the face of the indeterminacy of works that slip between the expansive spaces of a disputable disciplinary topography; if epistemological definitions question its limits and its doctrinal and methodological foundations; if questions of...

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3. Paradoxa Ortodoxa

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pp. 15-30

In “Vindication of Bouvard and Pécuchet”1 Borges considered Flaubert’s work to be a “deceptively simple story”; we could apply a similar consideration to his story “The Gospel According to Mark.”2 But the coincidences between Flaubert’s work—an aberration, according to some, “the greatest work of...

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4. On “Ultrarealism”: Borges and Bioy Casares (The Interlacing of the Imagination and Memory on the Thresholds of Other Worlds)

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pp. 31-42

Given the circumstances, it would perhaps have been more suggestive, and certainly more appropriate, to propose a title derived from Un drame bien parisien, the novella by Alphonse Allais presented for the first time in Le Chat Noir1 in 1890, a quite disconcerting piece of the gaité française...

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5. Borges and García Márquez: On How to Put Life into Words, and How to Recount Them

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pp. 43-52

In part they are contemporaries; they share the same continent, the same language, the fervor of readers beyond number and an uncommon glory. Passionate readers themselves, these writers frequent similar readings in an equally prized library featuring the same authors: Cervantes and Faulkner...

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6. A Complexly Woven Plot: Borges, Bioy Casares, Blanqui (Conjectures and Conjunctions at the Limits of Possible Worlds)

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pp. 53-64

It could be even redundant to try to glimpse via “The Celestial Plot,” the story by Adolfo Bioy Casares, the possibilities of connection between the parallel worlds favored by fiction. The narrator recounts something more than the flying “accidents” of a pilot, of one who risks a crossing between...

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7. Theoretical Invention in Fiction: Marvels, Miracles, and the Gazes of Miranda

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pp. 65-80

For some time now theory is spoken of as if of a voyage, a veering, or rather, if one takes into account, within the same semantic field or sea, the twists of an interpretation adrift or oriented by a jetty, a quebramar in Portuguese, the jetée with which Jacques Derrida designates it in French, that maritime...

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8. The Ironies of a Blind Seer

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pp. 81-100

When dealing with more than one vision, with a divided vision, or with a diffuse blindness, it would not be difficult to allude, despite the passage of several decades since its publication, to a binary that, in its English title, enables as much the acuities of insight as the limitations of blindness...

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9. Symbols and the Search for Unity

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pp. 101-114

For some years now it has seemed of interest to me to invoke the genies of place. Close to Hollywood, Los Angeles,1 it would have been opportune to speak of the angels to whom today’s reflection2 and imagination3 have dedicated so much recurrent attention. I do not know if it was satellite networks...

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10. The Paradoxes of Paradoxes

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pp. 115-128

In this case it would be valid to modify the formula of the Hebrew superlative, since it is not only a question of distinguishing a level of superiority that exalts a king of kings for being the greatest, or a song of songs that was the best and is his. Despite these grammaticized excellences, it is necessary...

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11. Vox in Deserto: Borges and the History of Sand

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pp. 129-138

We would again have to allude to the writing of Borges, considering it a writing avant la lettre, insofar as it anticipates and prescribes the imagination and thought determining the historical, political, theoretical, and aesthetic tendencies that define ambivalently the culture of the second half of the last...

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12. The Mystery of the Name

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pp. 139-146

In one of Borges’s best-known stories, the one that continues to be—with reason—his most-quoted story, resigning himself to the uselessness of all intellectual exercise, or demanding it, the narrator affirms: “A philosophical doctrine is at first a verisimilar description of the universe; the years go by...

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13. Repetitions Are No Surprise

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pp. 147-158

Perhaps it wouldn’t be impossible, despite the distances, to encounter responses in Buenos Aires to the various questions that I have formulated through the years in relation to Walter Benjamin, or at least to attend to some indications that might allow for an explanation of the striking coincidences...

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14. The Imagination of Knowledge

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pp. 159-166

It does not seem unlikely to presume that it was here, in Switzerland, in Lugano, that Borges read Der Golem, the novel by Gustav Meyrink. Next to the lake that submerges these mountains, inverting them in the water in the same way, his late reflections, less symmetrical, similarly slow, return from...

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15. The Place of the Library

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pp. 167-182

It is rather curious that “The Library of Babel”1 is one of Borges’s stories in which, if indeed literature is referred to, as in so many other of his writings, those references to books, stories, quotes, are less numerous and more trivial than one might have predicted. The library of a narration that lacks...

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16. Fiction between Fraud and Farce: Parodies and Properties of the Name

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pp. 183-196

There is little novelty in affirming (or confirming) that with every day the world becomes more Borgesian. For decades it has been known that not only is Borges one of the greatest literary events of his century but also that major nonliterary events occur at the margins of Borges.1 Prophetic and...


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pp. 197-234


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pp. 235

Back Cover

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Image Plates

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E-ISBN-13: 9781438450322
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438450315

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2014