Write a reader response journal about "Borges and I" and "The Cicular Ruins" by Jorge Luis Borges, focusing on the question of biography versus imagination in these stories.

In a reader response journal, you write down your individual impressions as a reader to the literary works you are considering. The short stories "Borges and I" and "The Circular Ruins" by Jorge Luis Borges both deal with the question of biography (or reality) and imagination by creating distinct and separate entities of the writer (or wizard), the literary persona that people perceive, and the characters that the writer creates.

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Reader response is a form of literary criticism in which your experience as a reader is more important than the contents of the text that you are analyzing. With this in mind, you should focus on subjective impressions of the short stories "Borges and I" and "The Circular Ruins" by Jorge Luis Borges when you are writing your journal.

In "Borges and I," the author highlights the difference between the persona that a writer creates through his works and the writer as an actual individual. The person who is writing this story is the biographical person, while the Borges he is writing about is the imaginary literary persona that people create in their minds as they read his works. The narrator in this story sees the public persona of Borges as a separate individual, and this Borges is the professor and the author of the books that have been written. The narrator sees himself as a transient, temporal being who is gradually transferring the essence of himself to the literary Borges who will live on after him. The narrator says that ultimately, whatever he does to free himself from the literary Borges is in vain because whatever he comes up with, the literary persona eventually absorbs. We see, then, that in this story the biographical Borges is unable to extricate himself from the literary Borges, but they are still seen as two separate entities.

"The Circular Ruins" is even more complex. In this story, it is as if Borges is reversing viewpoints and speaking from his imaginary, or literary, persona. He is a wizard who is attempting to create a flesh and blood man by dreaming of him. Unlike "Borges and I," this story is told from a third person viewpoint; therefore, this wizard may be Borges creating a fictional character, or he may be a teacher attempting to create the man Borges. The author is deliberately vague on this point. He writes that the wizard is "seeking a soul worthy of participating in the universe." The wizard manages, over the course of a year, to dream the image of a man, but he cannot bring his creation to life until he invokes the god within whose ruins he sleeps. The dreamed man awakens, and the wizard spends further years instructing him. He comes to think of his creation as a son, and when he is ready, the wizard sends his created man away. His son achieves fame in a distant place, and the wizard becomes concerned that his creation will find out that he is not real, that he is only a simulacrum. In the end, as the wizard dies, he understands that "he also was an illusion, that someone else was dreaming him."

As you consider the difference between reality (or biography) and imagination in these stories and write down your thoughts in your journal, remember that Borges adopts the perspective of a writer who sees himself, his literary persona, and the characters he creates all as distinct and separate entities.

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