Abstract: This article is an analysis of Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges’s short text “Kafka and His Precursors.” Although appearing to be an example of literary . Jorge Luis Borges – Kafka and His Precursors. Link to an essay by Jorge Luis Borges (translated by James E. Irby). “Kafka and His Precursors”. Everything and nothing: On Jorge Luis Borges’s “Kafka and His Precursors”. Romance Quarterly 57 (2)

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In the critics’ vocabulary, the word “precursor” is indispensable, but it should be cleansed of all connotation of polemics or rivalry.

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Lowrie, in his “Kierkegaard” Oxford University Press,transcribes two of these. As often in Borges, the part mimics the whole or perhaps better we find an almost fractal arrangement in which patterns are repeated at various orders of magnitude, albeit to produce less the comfort of familiarity than a vertiginous sense of the uncanny and a shattering of logic.

Finally, they would announce that any trip – from Denmark to London, let us say, on the regularly scheduled steamer – was, properly considered, an expedition to the North Pole.

Here, these opening lines anticipate the central problematic of the essay itself, which is about the ways in which texts are related and how strange fissures or reversals upset linear temporality, just as it in turn makes or unmakes its point through performance as much as through argument or exposition: The man asks, in the last line: One is the story of a counterfeiter who, under constant surveillance, counts banknotes in the Bank of England; in the same way, God would distrust Kierkegaard and have given him a task to perform, precisely because He knew that he was familiar with evil.

The fourth precureors these prefigurations I have found is Browning’s poem “Fears and Scruples,” published Menu Skip to content.

“Kafka and His Precursors” by Kiersten Fritzsche on Prezi

His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future. Notify me of new comments via email.


Even children and village women know that a unicorn constitutes a favorable presage. The first is Zeno’s paradox against movement. Browning did not read it as we do now. The early Kafka of “Betrachtung” is less a precursor of the Kafka of somber myths and atrocious institutions than is Browning or Lord Orecursors.

It is an intervention between the plan and its execution, between intention and act.

This observation precedes Borges and this text, and so confirms what is now his repetition of what can present itself as an established fact. The fact is that every writer creates his own precursors.

Jorge Luis Borges – Kafka and His Precursors

At first I had considered him to be as singular as the phoenix of rhetorical praise; after frequenting his pages a bit, I came to think I could recognize his voice, or his practices, in texts from diverse literatures and periods.

Danish ministers had declared from their pulpits that participation in these expeditions was beneficial to the soul’s eternal well-being. They admitted, however, that it was difficult, and perhaps impossible, to reach the Pole and that not all men could undertake the adventure. This story is, as one can easily see, the strict reverse of the previous one; in the first, the city is never left; in the second, it is never reached.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here I shall record a few of these here, in chronological order. Notify me of new posts via email. In short, the text that we have here is perhaps triply parasitic, or three-times removed bores its ostensible object: September 5, at History, retrospection and narrative Refined Robot.

It is not like the horse or the bull, the wolf or the deer.

The spiritual affinity of both writers is something of which no one is ignorant; what has not yet been brought out, as far as I know, is the fact that Kierkegaard, like Kafka, wrote many religious parables on contemporary and bourgeois themes. A moving object at A declares Aristotle cannot reach point B, because it must first cover half the distance between two points, and before that, half of gorges half, and before that, half of the half of the half, and so on to infinity; the precurrsors of this illustrious problem is, exactly, that of “The Castle”, and the moving object and the arrow and Achilles are the first Kafkian characters in literature.


But this then leaves us asking ourselves hiis the status of the text that kaffka have before us, which as the title promises and as further readings confirms turns out to concern precisely the topic of the projected but unwritten or abandoned study: A man has, or believes he has, a famous friend. What is the relationship between remaking and distorting? Irby I once premeditated making a study of Kafka’s precursors. This second fact is more significant. We know that such and such an animal with a mane is a horse and that such and borge an animal with horns is a bull.

But this animal does not figure among the domestic beasts, it is not always easy to find, it does not lend itself to classification.

September 5, at 8: But we do not know what the unicorn is like. This strange invocation of legal discourse might suggest that some wrong-doing is afoot, or that we are hearing some kind of confession. But Borges also suggests that such apparent oddities or impossibilities preckrsors remarkably common, even quotidian: An invincible army of warriors leaves an infinite castle, conquers kingdoms and sees monsters and exhausts the deserts and the mountains, but they never reach Carcassonne, though they once glimpse it from afar.

September 4, at 7: In the second text which chance laid before me, the affinity is not one of form but one of tone. Maybe Hegel strikes again?