I am having trouble with a paper. The subject is intertextuality and the novel is Borges' Ficciones. I am having trouble understanding what his purpose is for using intertextuality. 

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The first thing that will help you in writing about Borges' Ficciones is understanding that it is not a novel. The book is a collection of short stories ("fictions") written over a period of nine years (1935-1944). These are not meant to be read as a coherent narrative.

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The first thing that will help you in writing about Borges' Ficciones is understanding that it is not a novel. The book is a collection of short stories ("fictions") written over a period of nine years (1935-1944). These are not meant to be read as a coherent narrative.

The style of many of Borges' stories is dense, allusive, and cerebral, often tackling complex philosophical issues. Ultimately, his choice to write in this style was a personal preference; he could have chosen a different literary style, but this was the one that appealed to him or came naturally to him.

The way intertextuality functions in in his works is related to his situation as a writer. Borges' life and writing are located at the intersection of the sophisticated literary culture of Europe and the nascent literary culture of the New World.

Borges was born in 1899 to a family that was embedded in the formation of Argentina as a country, but also well educated in European culture with a vast library of English as well as Spanish books. The young Borges was fluently bilingual in English and Spanish by the age of nine. The family moved to Switzerland in 1915, and Borges lived in Europe until 1921. He began his literary career after his return to Argentina. 

Borges' writing often struggles, in a condensed and lapidary style, to make sense of how to relate sophisticated European ideas to Argentinian folk or regional culture. Intertextuality allows him to bring elements of both cultures into his stories in a very condensed way. Rather than having to flesh out both cultural situations, he can use references to previous texts to invoke their presence.  “Tln, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” and “The Circular Ruins” both, for example, evoke a mysterious unknown land (like the remote regions of Patagonia in southern Argentina) and how it poses an intellectual challenge similar to the imaginary lands constructed in the philosophy of Bishop Berkeley (the empty forest in which a tree falls). 

Borges also sees the nature of literature as intertextual. We are always using words and ideas that have been used by other writers and which come burdened with the ways they have been used in the past. Borges, in Ficciones, states this in the following quotation:

A book is not an isolated being: it is a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships.

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