Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Censorship and Political Allegory in Jorge Luis Borges’s ‘Viejo hábito argentino’

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2019), 96, (1), 87–105.

Abstract

Although the writings of Jorge Luis Borges have received extensive critical attention, much work still remains to be done on the original manuscripts, many of which contain unpublished material. Of particular interest is the connection between text and image in these documents, and how this relationship sheds light on the impact of politics and political censorship on writing. A case in point is the manuscript of ‘Viejo hábito argentino’, which contains a number of detailed drawings alongside a methodological system of annotations and corrections made by Borges himself. Even though many of the drawings in the manuscript are closely related to the text, Borges’s editors have failed to comment upon, let alone reproduce them in their editions. In this paper I will show how these striking illustrations are meaningful complements to his essay and provide far-reaching insights into his construction of political meaning as well as his praxis of writing.

Aunque la obra de Jorge Luis Borges ya ha atraído bastante atención crítica, todavía queda mucho por hacer con respeto a sus manuscritos originales. En particular, hay un vínculo bien fuerte entre los aspectos gráficos y verbales en estos manuscritos que hace hincapié en el impacto de la censura política en su escritura. Para ilustrar la importancia de este tipo de investigación, analizaré el manuscrito ‘Viejo hábito argentino’, que contiene varios dibujos detallados al lado de un sistema metodológico de anotaciones y correcciones de Borges mismo. A pesar de que las ilustraciones tienen mucho que ver con el texto en sí, sus editores nunca las han comentado ni las han reproducido dentro de sus ediciones. Con el fin de mostrar cómo la censura política afecta la composición textual y visual de Borges, examinaré la importancia de la yuxtaposición de estos dibujos llamativos y su texto provocativo en el manuscrito.

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Benedict, Nora C.