Re-reading "Kafka and His Precursors"

Butler, Rex (2010) Re-reading "Kafka and His Precursors". Variaciones Borges, 29 93-106.

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Author Butler, Rex
Title Re-reading "Kafka and His Precursors"
Journal name Variaciones Borges   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1396-0482
Publication date 2010-04
Sub-type Article (original research)
Volume 29
Start page 93
End page 106
Total pages 14
Place of publication Iowa City, IA, U.S.A.
Publisher University of Iowa
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted abstract
The influence of the Czech writer Franz Kafka on Jorge Luis Borges has often been noted. Critics suggest that Borges first came across Kafka's writings some rime around 1917 when his family was in Geneva and Borges was immersing himself in German Expressionism (Conversations 213). However, unlike many of his other early infatuations, Kafka was to remain an abiding presence throughout Borges's career. Borges translated Kafka's parable "Before the Law" for the weekly El Hogar in 1938 and a selection of Kafka's stories in book form as La metamorfosis the same year. Borges himself spoke of the influence of Kafka upon his first attempts to write fiction, and even of his attempts directly to imitate aspects of Kafka's work, which we might see in his use of non sequiturs, the introduction of logical gaps within his narratives and the way initial premises gradually expand into vast and unchecked conspiracies. Borges even directly pays homage to Kafka in one of his stories by naming the "sacred latrine" that would permit access to the all-powerful Company in "The Lottery of Babylon" "Qaphqa," which phonetically spells out the word "Kafka" (Collected Fictions l04). It is a connection that Borges's commentators have not been slow to recognize, with many devoting considerable pages to the relationship between the two authors. Typical is Gene Bell-Villada, who in his Borges and His Fiction seeks to show on a thematic level how Borges's "The Library of Babel" and "The Lottery of Babylon" follow such Kafka stories as "The Great Wall of China" and "Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk" in their "portrayal of a remote or imaginary society whose quaint absurdities dimly but unmistakably evoke our own". Or on a stylistic level Beatriz Sarlo in her Jorge Luis Borges: A Writer on the Edge speaks of the way that Borges seeks to imitate Kafka in "the perfection of his plot, in its simplicity and in the nightmarish accumulation of minor and uncertain details and repetitions".
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Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
School of Communication and Arts Publications
 
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Created: Thu, 14 Apr 2011, 17:02:08 EST by Ms Stormy Wehi on behalf of School of Communication and Arts