Joyce Carol Oates

Borges: Influence and References


Joyce Carol Oates

From: Richard McNally, eiremen@onramp.net

Many years ago in the dim city of Detroit, I was a grad. student in English, attempting to put together something I could carry awary away since I wasn't sure if I,we, they were going to slip me, us, them into junglic clothing and M-16s to give battle a new face in the light of the government's ignorance of the true enemy -- Pogo <we have met the enemy...> or the enemy within, viz. our editorial cartoonists. You will note the decline of same despite Newsweek's attempt to co-opt?preserve? same cartoonists, but that's another story.
I was taking a course in Modern Novel from (then-well-hidden and cabbage-patched at UD) Joyce Carol Oates. She testifed every class to Faulkner and Borges; course she was so spaced out from writing, teaching, crossing the US/Can border (I think she was living in Windsor at the time), and just trying to be Joyce Carol Oates, the writress (which she would be in the future which she knew but couldn't convince anyone of at the time so she could get some seed monies, etc. altho she did later I think) that it was hard to make her talk about Borges. God, but she loved him and his whole canon, life, heritage, etc. She had quantitative contempt for the Brits' how-to fiction, e.g. "Tom Jones," "Great Expectations" and so forth, and much praise for existential lit coming off the continent, but the only van-spanning, spinning stories she swore by in class were Borges.
So . . . could you find some Borgesian influences in her, huhn, ha, couldya,mister, couldya, ha? And besides you could expand dissertative writing maybe 20% if you put Oates in the Borgesian circle or temnos: you choose.

Additional Information

Celestial Timepiece -- A lovely site devoted to Joyce Carol Oates, maintained by Randy Souther.


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