History, Myth, and Archetype in Borges’s View of Argentina

Wednesday 19 April 2023

Britton, R. K. The Modern Language Review 74, no. 3 (1979): 607–16.

‘‘History, Myth and Archetype in Borges’s View of Argentina” is an article written by R. K Britton and published in The Modern Language Review on the work of the highly renowned Argentinian author of the 20th century, Jorge Luis Borges. Most of the criticism on Borges focuses on his philosophical comments on the nature of authorship, yet this article broadens perspectives by exploring Borges’ relationship with Argentinian history, and how this has been received.

The article focuses on a key concern of Borges’s in his work: the cyclical nature of time. It then goes on to examine how this relates to Borges’s narratives of conflict in Argentina that are often the setting of his work. It is a well-balanced article: it doesn’t veer into the hagiographical but thinks rather about how Borges’s literature in some ways stands apart from productive Argentinian history. The article highlights how younger Argentinians see Borges as classist in that he focuses on the history of the past and ignores the politics of the present. I found this interesting because, in offering an example of literature some see as not contributing to peace-building, it can help us better understand what literature that does contribute to peace narratives look like. I also found it valuable to read because the analysis attempts to bridge the gap between history being alluded to within literature and what this means for the history itself, which is crucial to examining how literature can have an active impact. If you are not particularly familiar with Borges’s work, the author provides enough exposition on the stories to which he refers for the article to be engaging nonetheless.

Link: https://doi.org/10.2307/3726707

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