7.1 "Borges y yo” – Jorge Luis Borges

10 min readjanuary 29, 2023


Alejandra Ramos

AP Spanish Literature 💃🏽

24 resources
See Units

"Borges y yo" is a short story written by Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges. It artfully blurs the boundaries between the real-life Borges and his literary persona, delving into the complex relationship between the author and his created identity.

Context Behind "Borges y Yo"

Background on Jorge Luis Borges

Image Courtesy of Los Angeles Review of Books
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) was an Argentine writer, poet, essayist, and key figure in the literary movement known as magical realism. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, known for his imaginative and philosophical storytelling. Borges often explored themes of identity, time, labyrinths, and mirrors, blending reality and fiction in his works. His writings have had a significant impact on modern literature and continue to inspire readers and writers around the world.

Time and Place

📜 Historical: "Borges and I" was written in the mid-20th century, a period characterized by rapid cultural and social changes. During this time, Argentina faced political instability, economic challenges, and shifts in cultural norms. The rise of urbanization and globalization also influenced the collective consciousness and the ways individuals perceived their own identities.
🗺️ Geographic: The story is set in Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina. Borges' strong connection to this city is evident in much of his work, and he frequently references its streets, neighborhoods, and landmarks. The city's multicultural environment and intellectual circles influenced Borges' thinking and literary style.

Societal Context

👑 Political: Argentina during Borges' time witnessed periods of political turmoil and authoritarian rule. The country faced alternating governments, which contributed to a sense of uncertainty and tension in society. Borges' writing often subtly reflects his political and philosophical views, sometimes obliquely commenting on power and control.
🧑🏽‍🤝‍🧑🏻 Socio-economic: The mid-20th century in Argentina was characterized by economic fluctuations and socio-economic disparities. The society was divided between the wealthy elite and the working class. Borges, coming from a middle-class family, experienced these divisions and may have been influenced by them in his reflections on identity and socio-economic concerns in his literary works.
🎭 Cultural: Argentine culture was shaped by a rich blend of European influences, including Spanish, Italian, and French heritage. This cultural melting pot provided a fertile ground for Borges' exploration of universal themes while preserving his Latin American identity. Borges' literary works often allude to classical and historical literature, showcasing his deep appreciation for literary tradition.

Must Know About "Borges y Yo"


Although the characters here are the same person, they do not necessarily represent the same person. It is important to not get them confused and to make sure that you can tell what sets them apart.
  • The "Yo" (Narrator): Represents Jorge Luis Borges, the real-life author, and his personal self. He struggles with the idea of a dual existence, one as himself and the other as the fictional character Borges, which he has created through his writing.
  • Borges: The literary persona created by the author. This character embodies Borges' preferences and traits, though somewhat exaggerated and detached from reality. Borges, as a literary creation, has a life of its own, distinct from the author's true self.

Literary Devices and Techniques

Narrador en primera persona (First-person narrator): The literary term "Narrador en primera persona" refers to the narrative perspective where the story is told from the viewpoint of the protagonist or a character directly involved in the events. In "Borges and I," the first-person perspective is utilized to articulate the internal conflict and introspection of the narrator as he contemplates his relationship with his literary persona, Borges.
Ambigüedad (Ambiguity): Ambiguity is a literary device used to create uncertainty or multiple interpretations within a text. In the essay, ambiguity is prevalent as the boundary between the real-life author (the "I") and his literary creation (Borges) blurs. This ambiguity highlights the complex nature of identity and the merging of reality and fiction.
Perspectiva (Perspective): The term "Perspectiva" refers to the point of view from which a story is presented. In "Borges and I," the perspective shifts between the real-life Borges and his literary creation, Borges. This alternating perspective provides insight into the author's internal struggle and self-reflection.
Paradoja (Paradox): A paradox is a statement or situation that appears contradictory but reveals a deeper truth. In the text, Borges grapples with the paradox of coexisting with his literary persona, questioning his identity and the relationship between the self and artistic creation.

Summary of "Borges y Yo"

Image Courtesy of Revista Altazor
"Borges and I" is a thought-provoking and introspective essay written by Jorge Luis Borges 👨, where he grapples with the complexities of his identity as both an author and a literary creation. The essay presents a unique blend of autobiography and fiction, as Borges explores the dual existence of the real-life author ("I") and his fictional literary persona ("Borges"). Through the first-person narrative, Borges reflects on the coexistence of these two selves and how the act of literary creation blurs the lines 󠁼between reality and imagination.
The essay begins with Borges describing encounters with his own name in various contexts, illustrating the dissociation between himself as an individual and the public image projected by his literary works. He acknowledges that the character "Borges" shares some of his preferences and traits, yet this fictional persona exists as a separate entity with an exaggerated, almost theatrical portrayal. The relationship between Borges and his literary creation is not overtly hostile, but rather one of mutual reliance. Borges recognizes that his life serves as material for his literary counterpart, providing the foundation for "Borges" to craft his literature. 📚
Throughout the essay, Borges engages in profound introspection, contemplating the nature of his existence and the role of literary creation in shaping his identity. 👨 He questions the validity of his own public image, recognizing that what is written in his books may not fully represent him as an individual. Instead, Borges believes that the act of creation belongs not to him or his literary persona but to the language and tradition itself.
As the essay progresses, Borges expresses a sense of inevitability in the convergence of his real-life self and his literary persona. He relinquishes elements of himself to "Borges," accepting the intertwining of their identities. However, he is wary of the character's tendency to distort and magnify things, potentially blurring the boundary between fact and fiction. Borges likens this relationship to a flight, where he loses aspects of himself, leaving only fragments to survive within "Borges" and his literary works.
In the final lines, Borges expresses uncertainty about the true authorship of the essay, emphasizing the ambiguous nature of the relationship between himself and his literary persona. 🎤 This self-reflexive and self-conscious approach to literature characterizes "Borges and I" as a profound piece of metafiction, challenging traditional notions of authorship and the boundaries between reality and imagination. 🪄
Overall, "Borges and I" delves into the enigmatic realm of self-identity, creativity, and the profound impact of literary creation on an author's sense of self. Borges' introspective exploration invites readers to contemplate the interplay between an author's personal life, artistic expression, and the enduring legacy of literature as a means of self-discovery and understanding. 🧠

Themes in "Borges y Yo"

La dualidad del ser (The duality of being)
This theme explores the profound dichotomy between the real-life author, Jorge Luis Borges (the "I"), and his fictional literary persona, Borges. It delves into the tension and coexistence of these two selves, revealing how the creative process can give rise to distinct identities within an author. This theme reflects the universal struggle of authors who create complex characters that embody facets of their own personality while existing independently in the literary realm.
La imagen pública y la imagen privada (Public image and private image)
This theme delves into the contrast between the author's private self and the public image projected through his literary works. It raises questions about how readers perceive an author based on their writings and how these perceptions shape the author's identity. "Borges and I" sheds light on the fascinating interplay between the author's introspective private self and the carefully curated public image projected by his literary creations. Borges contemplates whether his readers truly know him as a person or merely know the version of him filtered through his writing.
La introspección (Introspection)
This theme revolves around the act of self-examination and deep contemplation undertaken by the author. It highlights how Borges engages in introspection to explore the intricacies of his identity, thoughts, and feelings, ultimately revealing the complexities of the human psyche. The essay becomes a window into Borges' inner world, inviting readers to ponder the broader human experience of introspection and self-discovery.
El ser y la creación literaria (Being and literary creation)
This theme focuses on the interplay between the author's existence as an individual and the act of creating literary works. It emphasizes how an author's personal experiences, tastes, and beliefs find expression in their writing, shaping both their identity and the characters they bring to life.The theme highlights the symbiotic relationship between an author's existence and their creative endeavors, portraying how the act of writing becomes a profound act of self-expression.
La creación literaria (Literary creation)
This theme explores the process of artistic creation and its impact on the artist. It delves into the transformative nature of literature, where the act of crafting characters and stories shapes the author's understanding of their own identity and the world around them. The theme underscores how writing is not merely an act of imagination but an intimate act of self-revelation, shaping the creative mind and the characters it conceives.
La literatura autoconsciente (Self-conscious literature)
This theme highlights the self-awareness of the author in relation to their own literary works. It reflects on how writers can examine and confront their own artistic process and its effects on the themes and characters they create. The theme exemplifies how authors can use their writing to confront their own creative instincts, culminating in a literary work that is both a product of their self-awareness and a vessel for self-exploration.
El proceso creativo (The creative process)
This theme delves into the intricacies of the artistic process and the transformation of ideas into literary expression. It explores how an author's experiences, influences, and personal preferences shape their creative output.

Analysis and Significance of "Borges y Yo"

Image Courtesy of SoundCloud

Analysis of "Borges y Yo"

"Borges and I" is a profound and introspective essay that delves into the complexities of identity, self-awareness, and the creative process. Jorge Luis Borges skillfully weaves autobiography, philosophical musings, and metafictional elements to create a thought-provoking exploration of the relationship between the real-life author ("I") and his literary persona ("Borges"). Through the use of the first-person narrative, Borges intimately invites readers into the inner workings of his mind, revealing the struggle between his public and private selves, and the interplay between reality and fiction.
One of the central themes of the essay is the concept of duality. ⚖️ Borges presents two distinct entities: the real-life author, who lives his everyday life in Buenos Aires, and the fictional character, Borges, who exists in the realm of literature 2️⃣. This dual existence raises profound questions about the multiplicity of identities that an individual can possess and how an artist's creations can take on lives of their own. Borges' self-reflection leads to an exploration of the paradoxical nature of authorship, where an author, while creating characters and stories, can simultaneously be shaped by these artistic creations.
The theme of introspection permeates "Borges and I" as Borges navigates the complex relationship between the public image projected by his literary works and his private self. Through this self-examination, Borges confronts the disconnect between his artistic creations and his authentic identity, as readers may perceive him more through the lens of his writings rather than as an individual with unique thoughts and emotions. This introspective journey reflects the broader human experience of questioning one's own identity, inviting readers to consider the intricacies of self-perception and self-representation.

Significance of "Borges y Yo"

"Borges and I" holds significance as a masterful piece of metafiction that challenges traditional notions of authorship and artistic creation. By blurring the lines between autobiography and fiction, Borges crafts an intimate and self-aware narrative that pushes the boundaries of literature. This essay has become a landmark 🗺️ example of self-conscious literature, where the author acknowledges his role as both the subject and object of the narrative, elevating the act of writing to a profound form of self-revelation. 🔍
The essay's exploration of identity and the creative process remains timeless, resonating with readers and writers across generations. Borges' introspective journey invites audiences to contemplate their own relationship with their creative works and how these creations influence their understanding of self. The theme of duality not only applies to authors but also speaks to the universal experience of individuals who navigate the complexities of multiple identities and roles in their lives.
Furthermore, "Borges and I" showcases the power of literature to transcend its own boundaries and engage with broader philosophical themes. 📚 As a work that grapples with the nature of existence, the essay highlights how literature can serve as a medium for profound introspection and self-exploration. This self-conscious approach to literature has inspired subsequent generations of writers to experiment with narrative techniques, pushing the boundaries of storytelling and encouraging a deeper exploration of the human psyche.
In conclusion, "Borges and I" remains a timeless and influential essay in the realm of philosophical and metafictional literature. Borges' introspective analysis of his identity, the act of creation, and the blurred lines between reality and fiction serves as a beacon for both readers and writers to contemplate the complexities of the human experience and the transformative power of storytelling. This essay's enduring significance lies in its ability to prompt introspection, encourage a deeper understanding of artistic expression, and inspire future generations of authors to embrace the self-awareness and introspection that lie at the heart of transformative storytelling. ✏️
Please remember that if this is a literature piece that is tested on the FRQ, you should differentiate between these two different characters.

Stay Connected

© 2024 Fiveable Inc. All rights reserved.

© 2024 Fiveable Inc. All rights reserved.