Chapter 2 - City 51
Chapter 2 City To be human is to live in a world that is filled with significant places: to be human is to have and to know your place. — E. Relph1 The ‘significant places’ that filled Borges’s world included one in particu- lar within which he strove to know his place, that is, the city of Buenos Aires, but, more generally, the motif of the city is used in Borges as a way of exploring ideas about significant places. In this chapter, the focus is ini- tially on the city of Buenos Aires, especially in Borges’s early poetry and in the story ‘La muerte y la brújula’, and then broadens out to consider how the motif of the city functions in the story ‘El inmortal’. Borges placed such great store on the city of Buenos Aires, and on the role the city played in his own work, that he could write in an early essay (in Borges 1993: 91): Calles y cosas de la patria. Ojalá en su ancha intimidad vivan mis días venideros. [Streets and houses of the fatherland. May the days that remain to me be lived in their broad intimacy.] Like Joyce in relation to Dublin, Borges is identified worldwide with Buenos Aires; in each case, the respective cities constituted powerful motifs in their writings. Borges spoke of the sense he had that this was where he had to be, indeed where he always was. The city recurs throughout his work, and functions on many...
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