Among the many short stories that the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges has written, "The Circular Ruins" was published in 1964 in a collection of his works entitled Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings. Even though "The Circular Ruins" may be classified as a Magical Realist text, one may wonder if this short story could be classified as the Sublime as well. By examining "The Circular Ruins," a reader will be able to see several similarities between Magical Realism and the Sublime.
Of course, the first step in deciding whether or not "The Circular Ruins" is a type of the Sublime is to look at some of the characteristics of the Sublime. For instance, one of the characteristics of the Sublime is that it causes the feeling of transcendence, which means that the reader feels as if or she is rooted in the world but, at the same time, senses something that is beyond the world (Sandner 52). By using the element of dreams in "The Circular Ruins," transcendence is experienced by not only the reader but the main character, too. With the specific purpose to "dream a man" and "insert him into reality," the main character travels to circular ruins to sleep (Borges 46). After he finally accomplishes his purpose, the main character discovers that he himself is only the result of someone else's imagination (Borges 50). As a result, the reader may wonder if he or she, like the main character, is just the dream of someone else. Therefore, while the character and the reader may feel as if they are real human beings, they may begin to feel as if they are imaginary human beings, which is the sense of something beyond the world.
How does this feeling o...
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...k P, 1986.
Borges, Jorge Luis. "The Circular Ruins." Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings. Ed. Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby. New York: New Directions, 1964. 45-50.
Faris, Wendy B. "Scheherazade's Children: Magical Realism and Postmodern Fiction." Magical Realism. Theory, History, Community. Ed. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham, N.C.: Duke UP, 1995. 163-186.
Flores, Angel. "Magical Realism in Spanish American Fiction." Magical Realism. Theory, History, Community. Ed. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham, N.C.: Duke UP, 1995. 109-116.
Longinus. On the Sublime. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1995.
Sandner, David. The Fantastic Sublime. Westport, C.T.: Greenwood P, 1996.
Schaffer, Barbara Joan. "The Circular Ruins." 23 January 2001
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