Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2016

Thesis Advisor(s)

Miguel Gomes, PhD; Osvaldo Pardo, PhD

Honors Major



Latin American History | Spanish Literature


Jorge Luis Borges famously quipped, “Not granting me the Nobel prize has become a Scandinavian tradition; since I was born, they have not been granting it to me.” While made tongue-in-cheek, this quote serves as a nice introduction to Borges's sly (often petty) wit, and also to the genuine lack of recognition he received during his productive years. He was snubbed out of awards repeatedly, even from his own country. In 1942, Borges lost the Argentinian National Literature Competition to Eduardo Diaz, a Uruguayan author of gauchesque literature. Critics praised the work of Diaz as indisputably Argentinian, yet considered the stories of Borges, an actual Argentinian, excessively engrossed in contemporary European literary themes. Ironic, but mid-1900s literary awards culture in Argentina was steeped in a post-colonial political climate which valued literary movements that reproduced a pure “Argentine-ness”, untouched by European influence. It celebrated adventurous (yet, historically-inaccurate) tales of gauchos taming the Argentinian wilderness, but had no place for Borges’s Kafkian short stories about time, perception, and reality. This analysis draws attention to Borges's predicament by juxtaposing short stories from celebrated movements alongside corresponding ones by Borges that adopted and satirized those same styles. Ultimately, Borges’s late critical success arose from years of critical neglect. His isolation from the popular literary world allowed him to more easily reject the notion that Argentinian literature should be defined by the country’s historical folklore in favor of embracing a different, more authentic post-colonial Argentinian identity that celebrated the blend of western and Latin American culture.