ISSN (Online): 2583-0090


Authored by
on 01/11/2022


Drawing on the depiction of the labyrinth from Dante Aligheri’s The Divine Comedy, both James Joyce and Jorge Luis Borges have provided their own unique interpretation of the labyrinth by incorporating it in their literary writings. In Dante the movement through the labyrinth is one-directional, whereas in Joyce it is both multi-directional and circular. Self-knowledge is arrived at by returning to the starting point. The Borgesian labyrinth, on the other hand, is an infinite book containing autonomous microcosms within itself. Borges’ fiction, dealing with infinite libraries and fathomless information, contained within a minuscule dot, is an explicit illustration of this literary phenomenon. The never-ending amount of information provided in Borges is a metaphor for the proliferation of discourse that Michel Foucault has proposed in his concept of ‘author-function’. I propose that Borges’ metaphorical labyrinths prefigure the hypertextual form of writing that is present in most web pages and electronic literature. The hypertext is a form of electronic text where autonomous blocks of text are linked together to create a single coherent mass of writing. In this form of writing the readers and the author co-exist simultaneously, causing the concept of the author to be de-centered as the site of generation of meaning. In my paper I shall focus on ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’, ‘The Library of Babel’ and ‘The Aleph’ as representing the quintessential Borgesian labyrinth that prefigure the hypertextual form of the Internet, where meaning has no centre and both the author and the reader function as generators of meaning.

Keywords : Borges, labyrinth, Dante, hypertext

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