The Blind Spot in the Mirror: Self-Recognition and Personal Identity in Borges's Late Poetry


Blindness, Mirrors, Skepticism, Aesthetics, Metaphysical poetry, Personal identity, Anthologies, Identity theory


I suspect that most readers of Borges's late poetry are not enamoured of it. Certainly, no one would deny that an image here or there is memorable, or that the verses themselves are generally well crafted, or that the master is still capable of displaying an admirable erudition in his mature poems. In fact, a few texts - "Poema de los dones" and "Arte po?tica" come to mind - have rightly found a place in many literary anthologies. But the reader who has come to Borges through Ficciones and El aleph - or even the earlier volumes of poetry such as Fervor de Buenos Aires - is likely to turn the pages of La rosa profunda (1975) or Los conjurados (1985) in disappointment. While undeniably proficient, many poems appear hamstrung by their thematic and formal conservatism, for when he is not paying homage to the gods of his own private pantheon - Whitman, Lugones, Cervantes - Borges seems to be borrowing from himself, cautiously reworking themes that he had given a more robust treatment elsewhere. It is difficult to avoid the impression that the later Borges is but a shadow of the ear lier one, an anemic Doppleg?nger of the young writer who had altered the course of twentieth-century letters. From a biographical standpoint, an expla nation for Borges's competent but uninspiring turn to verse is readily available. By the mid-1950s he had effectively succumbed to hereditary blindness, and his preferred method of composition was necessarily altered.

Original Publication Citation

The Blind Spot in the Mirror: Self-Recognition and Personal Identity in Borges’s Late Poetry.” ​RevistaCanadiense de Estudios Hispánicos​ 29.2 (2005): 307-25

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Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispanicos







University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor