The collection of short stories named Ficciones can throw a light on the way in Jorge Borges perceives the meaning of writing and its role in the life of an individual. In order to illustrate these issues, one can examine such works as The Garden of Forking Paths and Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote since they demonstrate that writing can play several important roles. In particular, this activity can enable a person to justify one’s actions or make a confession. To some degree, it can offer some consolation.
Thus, writing can play a positive role. Furthermore, this activity is critical for leaving behind a legacy. Yet, a person, who is driven by this motive, can become obsessed and his/her life can be ruined. To a great extent, these short stories can be compared to such the poem The Song of Roland. These are the main questions that should be discussed.
At first, it is important to speak about the experiences of Dr. Yu Tsun who is the main character of the short story The Garden of Forking Paths. He wants to write the last message in order to justify his actions. For example, he wants to explain why he became a spy and why he killed an innocent person. This person wants to show that his life was meaningful. To some degree, writing enables him to make a confession. By writing his diary, Yu Tsun tries to show that he could influence the course of history.
Much attention should be paid to the following quote, “I wanted to prove to him that a yellow man could save his armies” (Borges 21). More importantly, writing enables him to express regret for the crimes that he committed. Much attention should be paid to the murder of Doctor Stephen Albert. In particular, he was killed to convey a certain message to the German intelligence service.
To a great extent, writing helps this character seek atonement. Thus, it is possible to argue that writing can be regarded as a positive force, even though it does not enable the main character to amend his errors. This is one of the details that should be taken into account.
This short story includes other characters who also believe that that writing is extremely important. For example, one can mention Yu Tsun’s ancestor, Ts’ui Pên, who spends many years to write a book which could throw a new light on the very nature of reality. Nevertheless, it turned into obsession, and his novel was dismissed by the contemporaries.
Moreover, he became isolated from his friends and relatives. Therefore, one can say that in this case, writing plays a negative role. This is one of the issues that one should not overlook by the readers.
Additionally, Jorge Borges attaches importance to the experiences of readers. For example, much attention should be paid to the work of Doctor Stephen Albert. He attempts to uncover the mysteries of Ts’ui Pên’s novel. In his opinion, Ts’ui Pên’s contemporaries failed to appreciate the significance of this novel. This is one of the reasons why Yu Tsun pays attention to him. Thus, reading can be viewed as the indirect cause of his demise. Nevertheless, Doctor Stephen Albert could not have anticipated this outcome.
Furthermore, one should consider the second short story Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote who intends to recreate Cervantes’s novel Don Quixote. In particular, he intends to recreate this novel word for word. This goal seems to be absurd because this work will not lead to the creation of anything new. However, Pierre Menard tries to show that a modern writer is able to create a work comparable to Don Quixote. This goal can be achieved by relieving the experiences of Cervantes.
Furthermore, this short story suggests that modern readers can find new meanings in the texts which were created during the previous historical periods. More importantly, these meanings are not necessarily intended by the author. Again it is possible to argue that writing is aimed at leaving a legacy, but this activity turns into obsession. This argument is particularly relevant if one speaks about Pierre Menard. Thus, it plays a negative role, especially in the life of this individual. This is one of the aspects that can be distinguished.
Therefore, Jorge Borges expresses different attitudes toward writing. To some degree, his ideas can be compared with the attitudes toward writing expressed in the poem The Song of Roland. It should be noted that this poem traditionally belonged to the domain of oral tradition. Furthermore, the written version of this poem offered a narrative that differed from the real historical events. In particular, it is supposed to explain the course of certain events such as Battle of Roncevaux Pass.
Furthermore, the characters of this poem attach importance to the written word that can take many forms, for example, chronicles. To some degree, written texts can enable them to attain a certain form of immortality. Therefore, written legacy is of great importance to them. So, in their opinion, this activity plays a positive role. Jorge Borges also perceives written text as a form of legacy. Nevertheless, his short stories suggest that writing performs various functions.
This is one of the distinctions that should not be overlooked. Overall, it is possible to say that writing can be regarded as a form of technology that can be applied for various purposes. However, one should not suppose that it plays only positive or negative roles. This is one of the arguments that can be put forward.
On the whole, the comparison of these literary works indicates that people can perceive writing in different ways. For example, they can use it to justify or explain the logic their behavior. In many cases, this activity can offer them some consolation. Furthermore, this activity enables a person to create a legacy that may or may not be appreciated by the readers. Nevertheless, writing can produce negative effects if it turns into obsession. This is one of the pitfalls that should be avoided.
Borges, Jorge. Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings, New York: New Directions Publishing,1964. Print.