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Borges, Swedenborg and Mysticism


William Rowlandson

Jorge Luis Borges was profoundly interested in the ill-defined and shape-shifting traditions of mysticism. However, previous studies of Borges have not focused on the writer’s close interest in mysticism and mystical texts, especially in the Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). This book examines the relationship between Borges’ own recorded mystical experiences and his appraisal of Swedenborg and other mystics. It asks the essential question of whether Borges was a mystic by analysing his writings, including short stories, essays, poems and interviews, alongside scholarly writings on mysticism by figures such as William James. The book locates Borges within the scholarship of mysticism by evaluating his many assertions and suggestions as to what is or is not a mystic and, in so doing, analyses the influence of James and Ralph Waldo Emerson on Borges’ reading of Swedenborg and mysticism. The author argues further that Swedenborg constitutes a far richer presence in Borges’ work than scholarship has hitherto acknowledged, and assesses the presence of Swedenborg in Borges’ aesthetics, ethics and poetics.


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Borges, Jorge Luis, —— Silvina Ocampo & Adolfo Bioy Casares, eds, Antologia de la Literatura Fantástica (Buenos Aires, Sudamericana, 1940). —— Other Inquisitions, 1937–1952 (New York: Washington Square Press, 1964). —— and Margarita Guerrero, El libro de los seres imaginarios (Buenos Aires: Emecé, 1967). —— Dreamtigers, Mildred Boyer and Harold Morland, trans. (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1970). —— The Aleph and Other Stories, 1933–1969, Norman Thomas di Giovanni, ed. and trans. (New York: Dutton, 1971a). —— An Introduction to American Literature (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1971b). —— Silvina Ocampo & Adolfo Bioy Casares, eds, Extraordinary Tales, Anthony Kerrigan, trans. (New York: Herder & Herder 1971c). —— Jorge Luis Borges Selected Poems 1923–1967, Norman Thomas di Giovanni, ed. (London: Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 1972). —— and Adolfo Bioy Casares, eds, Cuentos breves y extraordinarios (Buenos Aires: Losada, 1973). —— Extraordinary Tales, Anthony Kerrigan, trans. (New York: Souvenir Press, 1973). —— Obras Completas: 1923–1972 (Buenos Aires: Alianza Emecé Editores, 1974). —— In Praise of Darkness, Norman Thomas di Giovanni, trans. (London: Allen Lane, 1975). —— ‘Walt Whitman: Man and Myth’, Critical Inquiry 1/4 ( Jun., 1975b), 707–18. —— Labyrinths, Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby, eds, various trans. (London: Penguin, 1976). —— The Book of Sand, Norman Thomas di Giovanni and Alastair Reid, trans. (London: Penguin, 1979). —— and Adolfo Bioy Casares, eds, Libro del cielo y del infierno (Buenos Aires: Sur, 1983). —— Seven Nights, trans. Eliot Weinberger (University of Michigan: New Directions, 1984). —— Atlas, trans. Anthony Kerrigan (New York: E P Dutton, 1985). —— and Margarita Guerrero, The Book of Imaginary Beings,...

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