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Critical Analysis of the Garden of Branched Paths by Jorge Luis Borges




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Jorge Luis Borges is an acclaimed author of Latin American fiction. He is known for the style of presenting his works through the literary device of magical realism. Throughout his works he is fascinated by disjointed magical views of time, the multiple realities that exist in labyrinths, and he is adept at writing commentaries on imaginary books that do not exist.

In the Garden of Forking Paths, the main character is a spy, and the story is written in the background of World War I. His job is to pass on a secret message to his German counterparts. He is chased by Madden. He takes a train ride to the home of the famous sinologist Dr. Stephen Albert. There, the discussion revolves around an unfinished book written by the protagonist’s father. There are several plots in the book. For example, in one situation a man is a friend and in another an enemy and then rivals meet and shoot each other and then escape. The surprising thing about the story is that the main character shoots Albert and is then arrested by Madden. Borges eventually reveals that he is able to reveal the secret of the bombing of a particular city by the Germans.

The narrative structure of the story is straightforward, from beginning to end. The story follows the traditional lines of storytelling. The plot is not very convincing and reveals the struggle of the literary author to create it.

The protagonist who is a spy rather than faithful to his tradition is portrayed as a person interested in literature. He is constantly thinking about a disjointed manuscript of his ancestor, a created labyrinth. The author’s interest in labyrinths is a paradoxical fictional ambiguity. Is there a ‘trace’ of meaning when one throws too much or dives into the semantic structure of meaning. One arrives at the emptiness of the sign and all that remains is a literary adornment. The authors’ writing is more like a commentary than a fictional work.

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The meaning of time is considered fictitious. Borges attributes several conjectures of time. First of all, there is time in the book which is linear. Then there are many time zones of fiction where time is transformed into an antique comic gesture of literary playfulness. For Borges, time is when Zeno’s arrow, although moving, stands still on every path. Yes, Borges has given us the literary aspect of time, the internalized aspect that revolves around the ontology of the humanness of experience. The time of Borges resembles that of the melting clocks of the surrealist painter Dali.

While not many figures of speech are created, Borges goes so far as to suggest the metaphor. The whole story revolves around the symbolism of a metaphor. People, birds, sunrise, labyrinths and even time become metaphorical intrusions on the author’s creativity. The story becomes an imaginary encyclopedia in which the fictional space is both imaginary and rests on an exaggerated hyperbole of reality.

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