Jorge Luis Borges Mystery & Detective Fiction Analysis
Jorge Luis Borges was undoubtedly the most “literary” of all practitioners of the detective story; in fact, he stated that he found within himself no other passion and almost no other exercise than literature. His interest in detective fiction stemmed from early encounters with the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, whom he called the originator of the detective story, and G. K. Chesterton, whose combination of mysticism and ratiocination he admired most.
Borges repeatedly acknowledged his debt to the detective-story genre. What he admired most about the form is that whereas much modern literature is full of incoherence and opinion, the detective story represents order and what he called “the obligation to invent.” Indeed, the intrinsic relationship between the detective story and Borges’s fiction centers on the related issues of order, pattern, and plot, qualities that to him are most pronounced in short fiction. Borges rejected both the naïve realism and the discursive psychologizing of the novel, preferring instead the aesthetic tightness and consequent fantastic irrealism of the short story.
In one of his most famous statements on detective fiction, “Chesterton and the Labyrinths of the Detective Story,” Borges notes that whereas the detective novel borders on the character or psychological study, the detective story is an exercise in formal patterning and should abide by the following rules: The number of characters should be...
(The entire section is 1827 words.)
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