Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Aleph,”; Writing infinity and impossible

Susan Stewart, in an analysis of Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Aleph,” argues that “attempts to describe the miniature threaten an infinity of detail that becomes translated into an infinity of verbality. Language describing the miniature always displays the inadequacy of the verbal” (On Longing 2). Indeed, immediately before attempting to describe the Aleph, the protagonist of Borges’ story says, “I come now to the ineffable center of my tale; it is here that a writer’s hopelessness begins” (282). What do Borges and Stewart suggest about language and description? How do Borges and Julio Cortázar, the author of “A Continuity of Parks,” write that which is supposedly impossible to write?
Your task in this essay is to analyze and draw generalized conclusions from Borges’ and Cortázar’s attempts to “write the impossible.” Your essay should consist of a progression of analysis of specific passages and, to a lesser extent, argument; in the course of your analysis and argumentation, you should present insightful new ideas about your subject matter; in addition, the relation between your ideas and their relation your central project should be clear. To ensure that you write a cohesive, coherent essay, you should choose a critical concept that will serve as the core or “center” of your argument: for example, you might think about the writers’ use of symbols, or their use of geometric figures (a Möbius strip, a “sphere whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere”), or the ways that they present literature within works of literature. You may select one of these examples to engage with in your essay, or you may come up with your own—but do decide on some central critical concept and think about it in terms of Borges’ and Cortázar’s “impossible” writing.

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