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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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Kafkian Fictions

Kafkian Fictions

Chapter:
(p.79) 5 Kafkian Fictions
Source:
Borges and Kafka
Author(s):

Sarah Roger

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198746157.003.0005

Kafka’s influence on Borges’s writing is evident in stories that Borges wrote as early as 1936 and as late as 1971. This chapter looks at a range of works—mostly those from Ficciones (1944)—to demonstrate how Borges’s best known prose fiction was shaped by his reading and writing about Kafka. Like Kafka’s stories, Borges’s tales feature protagonists who resemble their author, especially with respect to their relationships with their fathers and their subordinate places in the hierarchy of the ‘patria potestad’. In Borges’s stories, these Kafkian protagonists fail to complete Zenoesque quests, never reaching their infinitely deferred goals. Where Borges diverges from Kafka, however, is in his preoccupation with identity and authorship, particularly the writer’s sense of inadequacy and his failed struggle to produce a unique, unrepeatable text.

Keywords:   authorship, Borges, failure, Ficciones, identity, infinity, Kafka, subordination, Zeno’s paradoxes

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