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Borges the storyteller

Reading both "The Secret Miracle" and "Three Versions of Judas" -- I am identifying strongly with the main characters (Hladík and Runeberg) -- but instead of identifying with the narrator, I am identifying the narrator as Borges -- the "position of the reader" in which I find myself, is listening to him telling a story. (This reminds me of how much I enjoyed reading his lectures, picturing him addressing the class.) The third person works very well here.

These two stories go together very well, and are moderately distinct from the rest of the fictions -- both are strongly dependent on religious content*; both narrate the composition of a work which vindicates the main character -- Hladík's "grand invisible labyrinth," Runeberg's heresy -- and the character's death. "The Secret Miracle" seems to me the closest in style to Poe of any of Borges' fictions.

*I was going to call them "deeply religious," but I don't think that's quite right -- Runeberg is "deeply religious," Hladík's experience is one of religious ecstasy; understanding each story requires a willingness to identify with religious sentiment but not, I think, any personal commitment to religious thinking. I have always assumed Borges was an atheist (and a lapsed Catholic) but I don't know if that is accurate.

posted morning of Saturday, March 20th, 2010
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