Jorge Luis Borges and Ruben Dario: Art, Politics and Creative Freedom

Southern Highlands Publishers
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Jorge Luis Borges, English Literature and Other Inquisitions, 2009, 1, pp. 33 - 56
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In spite of the nineteenth-century style foundational !roping of Dario as 'Liberator', what Borges had come to realise in the intervening years was the fundamental lesson to be learnt about the need for creative freedom, without which art runs the risk of becoming a mere vehicle for ideology. It is also one of the rare occasions where he acknowledges 'originality', relentlessly deconstructed throughout his writing career, and we must therefore take with a grain of salt his evasive, tongue-in-cheek statements about his own lack of creative originality, One suspects that Borges was acutely aware of his originality, but did his utmost to feign humility. While he may have been sceptical towards founding gestures, indeed thematised such positions in, for example, 'Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote',5 part of his originality clearly lies in the philosophical questioning of the foundational conceits of Western metaphysics, including literature and literary writers' claim to be transparent unto themselves, original unto themselves, when they are shot through with tradition, synthesis and citation: 'Borrowing citations, even entire works, swapping literary paternity, playfully assembling and disassembling texts from the past, arranging them in new perspectives: all this has innovative value for Borges,.6 This essay, then, highlights the shared concern of both Dario and Borges with creative freedom and how this was played out against a historical background of a struggle for cultural hegemony between cultural nationalism and cosmopolitanism within the irnpact of modernity on Latin American literary production.
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