Borges produced a kind of oscillatory writing that conceived both an innovative body of literature and a reader-accomplice that allowed him to sketch a new level of aesthetic experience. In his short story “Examen de la obra de Herbert Quain,” a hypothetical author attempts to build a systematic structure which, for Borges, was both potential,—in the sense that it generated non-existent texts—and potentializing, as it stretched his writing to its limits. The systematic structure created by Quain is a bibliographic and meticulous critical review of texts engendered by other texts. This article proposes two main paths of interpretation of Borges’s “Examen”: as a piece of potential literature (Oulipo), and as a destabilizing text. Quain relies on conventional standards of critical reviews and on techniques from the discipline of bibliography. These parameters allow him to build his own set of constraints, to then play against these constraints, and to approach literature as an object of study in order to then destabilize it.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 463-483
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.