“Emma Zunz” a Novel by Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Luis Borges is a famous Argentine writer, he is well known for his innovative approach and his special view of reality. In his works history, imagination, memories and fiction have equal rights and can all be treated seriously, as if they all were possible. Borges refuses to have an objective reality. During the World War I the family of Jorge Luis Borges was caught in Europe. The writer went to school in Switzerland. Later his family moved to Spain where he first met the group of experimental poets called the Ultraists. Borges returned home in 1921 and started his own group of writers known as Argentine Ultraists. Borges did not support the dictator regime in Argentine, the ruling military dictator Juan Peron was aware of this opposition and punished Borges by taking away his post as a librarian and suggested him to work as a chicken inspector.

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Among metaphysical ideas that interested Borges the most were the ideas of Endless Recurrence, of hallucinatory nature of the world, of a dream within a dream. Borges saw the universe as a dream, as a world that consists of corridors leading to more corridors.

Borges distinguished between four basic devices in fantastic literature: the work within the work, the contamination of reality by dream, the time travel and the double. Borges’ most essential themes and techniques of construction were the problematic nature of the world, of time, of knowledge and of self.

The story called “Emma Zunz” is a description of a preparation and commitment of a crime by eighteen year old Emma Zunz. Emma sees herself as an instrument of justice. She finds out that her father has committed a suicide in Brazil after being accused in a theft that he swore he never was a part of. Immediately Emma, who is against all violence, decides to punish the man her father accused in being the real thief. Emma has an “almost pathological fear” of men, yet this does not stop her from putting her plan in action (Borges 125). She goes to the docks, looking for a sailor who she uses as a “tool for justice” (Borges 127).

She engages into a sexual intercourse with that man. After that, filled with disgust and fatigue, she heads to the residence of Aaron Loewenthal, shoots him and then reports to the police that this was a self-defense crime as he first attacked and abused her. According to Emma’s father, Loewenthal was the real thief, so Emma felt obliged to avenge her father. The news about her father’s death turn Emma’s world and system of values upside down, makes her act as an “instrument of justice” and forget all the principles, peaceful nature and fear of men (Borges 128). Revenge and blind trust to her late father become the moving forces in her life and her only truths.

“The Garden of Forking Paths” starts with the historical facts about the attack against the Serre-Montauban line by British divisions during the World War I. The attack was postponed for 5 days, supposedly, because of torrential rains (Borges 31).

The story presents a letter written by Yu Tsun, a spy trying to message the location of the British artillery branch to Germany. Yu Tsun meets Stephen Albert, the person who will assist in transmission of the message, they both walk into a garden of forking paths where the spy murders Albert. Even though he was intercepted and arrested by Captain Madden, he has accomplished his mission. The newspapers published the name of Yu Tsun’s victim. Albert was the name of the location of British artillery branch. In this way Yu Tsun messaged the information to the German forces and “won out”. The murderer and the victim are connected by Ts’ui Pen’s maze which also is presented in a form of a novel, a garden and a lost labyrinth. These all are descriptions of one of the physical theories of the multiple universes with endless number of variations of the events and relationships.

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Works Cited

Borges, Jorge Luis. Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other writings. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Emece Editores, 1964. Print.

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StudyCorgi. (2020, December 30). “Emma Zunz” a Novel by Jorge Luis Borges. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/emma-zunz-a-novel-by-jorge-luis-borges/

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"“Emma Zunz” a Novel by Jorge Luis Borges." StudyCorgi, 30 Dec. 2020, studycorgi.com/emma-zunz-a-novel-by-jorge-luis-borges/.

1. StudyCorgi. "“Emma Zunz” a Novel by Jorge Luis Borges." December 30, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/emma-zunz-a-novel-by-jorge-luis-borges/.


StudyCorgi. "“Emma Zunz” a Novel by Jorge Luis Borges." December 30, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/emma-zunz-a-novel-by-jorge-luis-borges/.


StudyCorgi. 2020. "“Emma Zunz” a Novel by Jorge Luis Borges." December 30, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/emma-zunz-a-novel-by-jorge-luis-borges/.


StudyCorgi. (2020) '“Emma Zunz” a Novel by Jorge Luis Borges'. 30 December.

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