Max Ubelaker Andrade
Penn State Press
Borges Beyond the Visible by Max Ubelaker Andrade Summary
Borges Beyond the Visible presents radically new readings of some of Jorge Luis Borges’s most celebrated stories. Max Ubelaker Andrade shows how Borges employed intertextual puzzles to transform his personal experiences with blindness, sexuality, and suicide while allowing readers to sense the transformative power of their own literary imaginations. In readings of “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” “El Aleph,” and “El Zahir,” Ubelaker Andrade argues that Borges, considering his own impending blindness, borrowed from Islam’s prohibitions on visual representation to create a “literary theology”—a religion focused on the contradictions of literary existence and the unstable complexities of a visual world perceived without everyday sight. Embracing these contradictions allowed Borges to transform his relationships with sex, sexuality, and family in multilayered stories such as “Emma Zunz,” “La intrusa,” and “El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan.” Yet these liberating transformations, sometimes offered to the reader as a paradoxical “gift of death,” are complicated by “La salvación por las obras,” a story built around Borges’s relationship with a suicidal reader and the woman to whom they were both connected. The epilogue presents “Místicos del Islam,” an unpublished essay draft by Borges, as a key source of insight into an irreverent, iconoclastic writing practice based on a profound faith in fiction. Compelling and clear, Borges Beyond the Visible is a revelatory examination of the work of one of the most influential authors of the twentieth century. It opens up exciting areas of inquiry for scholars, students, and readers of Borges.