Great Literary Works are not for Everyone

Writing for New Yorker, some Mark O’Connell (no doubt trained in an area where political ideologies override existential realities) complains about Borges’s reluctance in political engagement and his general non-interest in women writers. As a woman myself, I often find female writers utterly uninteresting to read: Virginia Woolf? Her Mrs Dalloway is less than 200 pages long and it pained me to finish it – that why I didn’t. Muttering in that voice inside your head without so much crafting out the larger scheme of things but keeps dabbling on seemingly important topics for a second is the very antithesis to novel writing. Walker? Constantly banging on colour and mother-daughter relationship proves that she is a very sensitive observer of her own life but lacks imagination in the grander truth. Sylvia Plath? Yes, she may be a genius but she is mad and arrogant, her ego blows up on every page of her works before it implodes to that nothingness that Hughes tries to salvage, over and over again, to no avail. You’ve got to be pretty mad yourself to like her. So yes, I’m a woman. I don’t generally read female writings except chick lit.

But let’s not be sexist about this, because to each his own, and let’s face it – not everyone has the intellectual capacity to write the Paradise Lost, or the Divine Comedy, or Hamlet, or Molloy, or Watt, or Elizabeth Costello, or The Aleph. Of course, not everyone has the intellectual capacity to enjoy or understand them either.

What Borges is doing in The Millions : A Literary Hedonist In The Classroom: On Professor Borges, or what he has been doing throughout his life, is to defy the commercial turn of literature in the classroom. He has kept the allure of literature and philosophy fresh and alive. In fact, he may even have suggested that they are doppelgänger of each other. Fascinating.

Borges and his cat, Aleph


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