Tracing the Image of His Face: Jorge Luis Borges and the Question of Influence

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Northeast Modern Language Association
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Jorge Luis Borges' influence on literature has been immense, both in his native Argentina and throughout the world. Umberto Eco once wrote that while James Joyce "designed with words," Borges "designed with ideas." These ideas have had a tremendous impact throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. For example, the genre of magical realism that Borges helped to inspire has in turn inspired writers as diverse as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Angela Carter, Salman Rushdie, José Saramango and Toni Morrison among many others. Likewise, postmodern authors such as Eco, Italo Calvino, John Barth, and Thomas Pynchon have all cited Borges as a key influence on their work. Borges once wrote that after peopling a "space with images" of all sorts and varieties over the years, the writer comes at the end to see that "the patient labyrinth of lines traces the image of his own face." Why have so many writers come to see their own face in the labyrinth of lines left to us by Jorge Luis Borges? How has the influence of one writer had such an enormous impact on world literature? This panel seeks to explore that impact by looking at Borges' influence on magical realism, postmodernism, Latin American literature, science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy and a host of other areas and genres. This panel should appeal to anyone with an interest in Borges and the issue of transnational influence on world literature. Please submit 250-300 word abstracts (MSWord) to Jackie Cameron at by September 30.