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Throughout his career as a writer, Borges strategically strove to create an image of James Joyce as the artificer of intricately woven labyrinths whose sheer scope and encyclopaedic bulk both fascinated and horrified him. The chapter charts the twists and turns of Borges’s ambivalent relationship with Joyce, from his 1925 review of Ulysses and translation of a page of its final chapter, to the development of a more problematic attitude where he sought to reposition his own art of brevity as the antithesis of Joyce’s epic legacy.
In Shakespeare, Borges found a precursor of his own philosophical preoccupations with the negation of personal identity and with the transmission of a cultural legacy. ’Everything and Nothing’ (1960) and the later ’A Page on Shakespeare’ (1964) explore the first of these concerns. Compensating somewhat for his sense of nothingness, Shakespeare exploited the roles of actor and playwright to create and impersonate multiple selves. Regarding him as the epitome of reworking and recycling pre-existent stories and plots, Borges exemplifies a flawed approach to Shakespeare’s legacy in the character of Sogel in a late story entitled ’Shakespeare’s Memory’.
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