Posted by: Yorgos | April 2, 2008

Text 12 – A Literary Patricide

Harold Bloom in The Anxiety of Influence claims that every poet struggles with his literary predecessor to the death, in order to escape his influence and acquire his own creative voice.

Can the same be said about the relationship between readers and their favorite authors? I know that parallels cannot be drawn, but readers tend to be haunted by this one (or few) writer, who changed the way they see books, introduced them to a new world. Do these readers, though, ever feel the need to escape that major influence, so they can really open up, unrestricted by a genius they cannot match, to the magical realm of literature?

I assume that every reader is different, so I guess that some have indeed felt this way and others have not. I can only talk about my own personal experience.

The writer that haunts me, the ghost of my literary house, is Jorge Luis Borges.


I have read almost everything available to me by him (except for his poetry, of which I’ve read fragments), I’ve written two dissertations and a number of essays on him, I can quote him, refer to him, link him to events (relevant or irrelevant to him), I’ve written short stories after his style and sent them to competitions; he is the author who has made the most distinguishable mark in my life as a reader. And yet, how many times have I felt the need to repudiate him, even to hate him. My love for books is partly his doing, but he has defined my way of reading in such a degree that I feel imprisoned. At some point, everything I was reading had to be related to Borges, I had to figure out whether he’d like it or not. He was, indeed, haunting me.

Now I can say that I have partly escaped his influence, since I have not read him for over two years. And yet I still find myself quoting him all the time, making connections that he would make. I have not completed my literary patricide and I don’t think I ever will. This post here takes the role of an exorcism, but, as we all know, an exorcism can have no effect, if one knows that it is done for psychological reasons. Then maybe it takes the place of therapy (that’s what a personal blog can sometimes be; but we’ll not get in that issue right now).

Even if he is my ghost or my Laius, Borges remains a literary genius and one of my favorite writers.

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