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Borges and KafkaSons and Writers$
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Sarah Roger

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198746157

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198746157.001.0001

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Emulating Kafka in Babylon and Babel

Emulating Kafka in Babylon and Babel

(p.67) 4 Emulating Kafka in Babylon and Babel
Borges and Kafka

Sarah Roger

Oxford University Press

Borges openly emulated Kafka in two short stories. The first of these was ‘La lotería en Babilonia’ (1941), which depicts a mysterious, Kafkaesque lottery to which all of the citizens of Babylon are subordinate. The second was ‘La biblioteca de Babel’ (1941), which describes an all-encompassing, seemingly infinite library and the librarians who futilely search for meaning in its books. By focusing on the concepts Borges admired in Kafka—among them Zeno’s paradoxes—both stories can be read as parables about individuals who struggle to understand their place within the universe. Unlike Kafka’s stories, however, Borges’s emphasize the concept of storytelling.

Keywords:   Borges, infinity, Kafka, library, lottery, storytelling, subordination, Zeno’s paradoxes

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