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Borges and Space


Bill Richardson

This book examines the relevance of the concepts of space and place to the work of Jorge Luis Borges. The core of the book is a series of readings of key Borges texts viewed from the perspective of human spatiality. Issues that arise include the dichotomy between ‘lived space’ and abstract mapping, the relevance of a ‘sense of place’ to Borges’s work, the impact of place on identity, the importance of context to our sense of who we are, the role played by space and place in the exercise of power, and the ways in which certain of Borges’s stories invite us to reflect on our ‘place in the universe’. In the course of this discussion, crucial questions about the interpretation of the Argentine author’s work are addressed and some important issues that have largely been overlooked are considered. The book begins by outlining cross-disciplinary discussions of space and place and their impact on the study of literature and concludes with a theoretical reflection on approaches to the issue of space in Borges, extrapolating points of relevance to the theme of literary spatiality generally.


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Acknowledgements ix Introduction 1 Chapter 1 Aleph 27 Chapter 2 City 51 Poetry and Cityscape 53 Death, a Compass and Human Spatiality 62 Immortality and the Timeless City 71 Chapter 3 Deixis 83 Deixis and Space 83 The Warrior and the Englishwoman Change Sides 87 Location, Death, and the Labyrinth of Ibn-Ḥakam 93 Space, Time and Identity in the Garden of Forking Paths 102 Chapter 4 Identity 109 We are where we are – in the South 109 Argentine Locations and the Marking of Identity 125 viii Chapter 5 Power 143 Representational Space and the Magic Ruins 143 The Movements of a Would-be Wizard 153 Power, Powerlessness and Political Space 158 Chapter 6 Cosmos 165 Babel and the Limits of the Universe 165 Otherworldliness and Tlön 182 Epilogue 197 Notes 219 Bibliography 233 Index 245

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