Fuentes

Borges: Influence and References


Carlos Fuentes

Carlos Fuentes is one of Latin America's most prominent men of letters. He is an essayist and literary historian of the highest caliber, as well as the author of numerous screenplays, dramas, and short stories; however, Fuentes is best known for his novels, which use complex and innovative narrative techniques to probe Mexican history. Born in 1928 in Panama City, the son of a Mexican diplomat, Fuentes was raised in Washington, D.C., Buenos Ares, Argentina, and Santiago, Chile. He took a law degree from the National University of Mexico, and pursued graduate studies at the Institut des Hautes Études Internationales in Geneva. Fuentes combined his life as a writer with a successful career in international relations that culminated in being appointed Mexico's ambassador to France in 1975-77; since then he has held distinguished lectureships in England and America, and has been the Robert F. Kennedy Professor of Latin American Studies at Harvard University since 1987.
Fuentes has always admitted to Borges as an inspiration and a literary influence, and has paid numerous tributes to him in both writing and lectures. Indeed, the following information is all adapted from notes taken at a 1999 lecture on Borges presented by Fuentes in New York.
Fuentes first came across Borges' writing at the age of 16, during his youthful "year of grace" in Buenos Aires, some time off from school which was memorable for three reasons: the Tango, the women, and Jorge Luis Borges. Having spent his early years and education in America, Fuentes was proficient in both Spanish and English; and though he had wanted to be a writer, was unsure which language to adopt. This first exposure to Borges -- through A Universal History of Infamy -- came as a welcome revelation, and made the young Fuentes realize that he wanted to be a writer in Spanish, the language in which he "loved, dreamed, and insulted." But perhaps more profound than this was what he learned from Borges as a writer, as a literary visionary, and as a fellow Latin American. First, that Borges pointed the way to a new style of literature, a style that avoided mimetic realism and epic individualism (called by Fuentes "The Literature of Waterloo") and pointed to an alternate tradition, one of "verbal exuberance and intellectual ingenuity." Descended from Cervantes, these "Children of la Mancha" included Diderot, Sterne, Joyce, and of course, Borges. Secondly, the literature of Borges was the first writing that seemed to be truly Latin American in character as well as potential. Rather than artificially reconstructing a vanished past, the writings of Borges were all-inclusive, and showed a literary imagination that incorporated all cultures relevant to modern thought. Stories like "Averroës' Search," "Emma Zunz," and "The Approach to Al-Mu'tasim" depicted Western and Arab culture not just coexisting with the other's influence, but displaying a synergy, a plurality that could provide a groundwork for a new kind of fiction, one uniquely suited for Latin America.
Although the influence of Borges may be felt in much of Fuentes' fiction, one particular "essay" stands out.

Borges in Action
Collected in Myself with Others, "Borges in Action" is both and homage and a parody of Borges. It takes the form of an essay, a first-person narrative written ostensibly by Fuentes himself. The narrator encounters an old man in México City, a blind man who invites him into his home for an interesting evening, an encounter with books and ideas that alters the nature of reality itself.
Although most of the charm of "Borges in Action" stems from Fuentes' playful manipulation of Borges tricks and tropes, there is a lot of serious speculation inserted inbetween the flights of fancy, and Fuentes lays out many of his ideas on the nature of Borges' unique fiction.

Additional Information

Terra Nostra -- A planned Fuentes site soon to come to the Libyrinth

Borges at 100 -- Lecture notes on Fuentes' 1999 talk on Borges.

Selected Works by Carlos Fuentes

Aura
Carlos Fuentes, Lysander Kemp (Translator) / Paperback / Published 1975
Our Price: $8.00 ~ You Save: $2.00 (20%) (Back Ordered)

The Buried Mirror: Reflections on Spain and the New World
Carlos Fuentes / Paperback / Published 1999
Our Price: $22.40 ~ You Save: $5.60 (20%)

Burnt Water
Carlos Fuentes, Margaret Sayers Peden (Translator) / Paperback / Published 1986
Our Price: $10.20 ~ You Save: $1.80 (15%)

The Crystal Frontier: A Novel in Nine Stories
Carlos Fuentes, et al / Hardcover / Published 1997
Our Price: $17.25 ~ You Save: $5.75 (25%)

The Crystal Frontier: A Novel in Nine Stories (Harvest Book)
Carlos Fuentes, Alfred J. Mac Adam (Translator) / Paperback / Published 1998
Our Price: $11.05 ~ You Save: $1.95 (15%)

The Death of Artemio Cruz
Carlos Fuentes, Alfred J. Mac Adam (Translator) / Paperback / Published 1991
Our Price: $10.40 ~ You Save: $2.60 (20%)

Diana: The Goddess Who Hunts Alone
Carlos Fuentes, Alfred Mac Adam (Translator) / Hardcover / Published 1995
Our Price: $22.00

Distant Relations
Carlos Fuentes, Margaret Sayers Peden (Translator) / Hardcover / Published 1982
Our Price: $11.95

Distant Relations
Carlos Fuentes, Margaret Sayers Peden (Translator) / Paperback / Published 1984
Our Price: $9.60 ~ You Save: $2.40 (20%) (Back Ordered)

Myself With Others: Selected Essays
Carlos Fuentes / Hardcover / Published 1988
Our Price: $19.95

Myself with Others: Selected Essays
Carlos Fuentes / Paperback / Published 1988
Our Price: $14.40 ~ You Save: $3.60 (20%)

A New Time for Mexico
Carlos Fuentes, et al / Hardcover / Published 1996
Our Price: $22.00

A New Time for Mexico
Carlos Fuentes, Marina G. Gutman (Translator) / Paperback / Published 1997
Our Price: $11.86 ~ You Save: $2.09 (15%)

The Old Gringo
Carlos Fuentes, et al / Paperback / Published 1997
Our Price: $9.60 ~ You Save: $2.40 (20%)

Terra Nostra
Carlos Fuentes, Margaret Sayers Peden (Translator) / Paperback / Published 1984
Our Price: $21.25 ~ You Save: $3.75 (15%)

A Change of Skin
Carlos Fuentes, Sam Hileman (Translator) / Paperback / Published 1986
(Publisher Out Of Stock)

Christopher Unborn
Carlos Fuentes, et al / Hardcover / Published 1989
Our Price: $17.21 ~ You Save: $5.74 (25%) (Back Ordered)

Christopher Unborn
Carlos Fuentes, Alfred J. Mac Adam (Translator) / Paperback / Published 1990
(Publisher Out Of Stock)


Return to Borges Influence