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Heroes, victims or villains? Irish Presentations and Representations in Latin America and the Caribbean

Morelia, Mexico, 15-18 July 2009

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Borges's re-writing of Argentina's literary mythology as inherited by a colonial past and his creation of a national narrative in terms of his influence from James Joyce

King, Kristen (Northwestern University)

Literary theorist, Homi Bhabha, poses a theory that he calls "counter narration" in his text, The Location of Culture. Bhabha's theories on counter narratives and cultural difference correspond to the cultural aims of Irish author, James Joyce in Ulysses and Argentine writer, Jorge Luis Borges in "Death and the Compass", "The Aleph", "Pierre Menard", "Narrative Art and Magic", "Garden of Forking Paths", and others.  Through these pieces, Borges and Joyce write counter narratives, thus creating the opportunity to redefine their cultures. The connection that Borges finds between his goals and those of Joyce allows for a comparison of their methods.  Borges's use of Joyce as a model becomes especially clear in 1969 when he writes "An Invocation to Joyce", in which he addresses both Joyce's influence on his writing and life as well as his own affiliation and dedication to the "other", or those who have been marginalized by a colonial force.  Borges represents the minority of the world to whom Joyce gave a voice, and he too gives a voice to the people on the periphery of his own culture.  This essay assesses Joyce's influence on Borges with specific focus on the colonial forces, the defining mythology put in place by such forces, and the weight this places on writers such as Borges and Joyce in attempting to free their cultures of such limited defining factors for their societies.  Several areas addressed include: How can a writer delineate a city or culture?  What is national and personal character?  And, how can a culture's ingrained beliefs that were determined by colonial forces begin to change?  To answer these questions, this essay suggests that the authors rewrite mythology, recast classical allusions and symbols, and emphasize the everyday and everyman by representing the minority.


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