Borges, Funes, disability, disability studies, neurodiversity, neurodivergence, monstrosity, freak, freak show


In Jorge Luis Borges’s “Funes, His Memory,” the narrator presents Ireneo Funes as an intriguing example of both physical and cognitive atypicality. Although the narrator is quick to identify Funes’s deficiencies, he unashamedly acknowledges his own cognitive weaknesses as well. Using a literary disability studies lens, this article examines the construction of disability within the text, arguing that the narrator imposes disability onto Funes to mask the possibility that he be categorized as disabled. The narrator sets up an ableist binary to undermine Funes physically, yet this binary falls apart when applied to cognitive ability. In order to address this weakness, the narrator subverts Funes by employing elements of the grotesque, faulting Funes for lack of social engagement, and othering him through orientalism. Additionally, the narrator dehumanizes Funes by imbuing cyborglike qualities. Ultimately, this article reveals disability to be a brittle categorization.

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