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Oihane Iglesias Telleria

Mirrors, Dreams, and Illusion: the Reception of Ancient Gnosticism in Jorge Luis Borges.

The countercultural side of Gnosticism turns up again and again as main focus of Jorge Luis Borges’s interest. This revolutionary side of ancient Gnosticism was so essential in Borges’ understanding and valuation, that he integrated it in numerous stories and fiction essays, and influenced his conception of both reality and literature. Taking the work of J.L. Borges as a starting point, I trace the presence of Gnostic ideas in his short stories, poetry and essays. After pondering both context and sources for Borges’s knowledge of Gnosticism (GRS Mead, the Heresiologists, etc.), and providing an overview of different Borgesian short stories that include Gnostic motifs, I will focus on an analysis of several central notions in his work. A comparison between ancient and modern interpretations serves to evaluate the new meaning that Gnostic motifs acquire in the literary framework created by the Argentinian writer. Borges’s reception and re-elaboration of Gnostic thought helps him both to express some of his central philosophical preoccupations and to update these ancient myths, making them accessible for modern readers.

Coetzee argues that Borges relation to Gnosticism might be gesturing towards a posthumanist ethics. I agree with him and with Ivan Callus that argued that, “Borges’ work is metaphysical rather than religious in nature: as its base there are vertiginous glimpses of the collapse and all the structures of meaning, including language itself, flashing intimations that the very self that speaks has not real existence”. In the fiction that responds to this dread, the ethical and the aesthetic are tightly wound together.

As a theoretical framework, I will use the notion of intertextuality that Julia Kristeva proposed but also the Genre Studies to compare the relations between religion and literature. I will take a look into the literary comparativism, that tends to put the author in dialogue with other traditions but also to the theory of reception and to Angel Rama’s notion of transculturation, among other theoretical concepts.

Supervisor: Prof. dr. Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta

Laatst gewijzigd:27 maart 2019 12:55