The Passion of an Endless Quotation

By Lisa Block de Behar
Translated by William Egginton
Introduction by William Egginton

Subjects: Semiotics
Series: SUNY series in Latin American and Iberian Thought and Culture
Paperback : 9780791455562, 222 pages, October 2002
Hardcover : 9780791455555, 222 pages, October 2002

Table of contents


The Interpretive Fix and the Fixations of Fiction: The Ars Interpretans of Lisa Block de Behar, by William Egginton

1. First Words

2. Variations on a Letter Avant-la-lettre

3. Paradoxa Ortodoxa

4. On "Ultrarealism": Borges and Bioy Casares (The Interlacing of the Imagination and Memory on the Thresholds of Other Worlds)

5. A Complexly Woven Plot: Borges, Bioy Casares, Blanqui (Conjectures and Conjunctions at the Limits of Possible Worlds)

6. Theoretical Invention in Fiction: Marvels, Miracles, and the Gazes of Miranda

7. The Ironies of a Blind Seer

8. Symbols and the Search for Unity

9. The Paradoxes of Paradoxes

10. Vox in Deserto: Borges and the Story of Sand

11. The Mystery of the Name

12. The Imagination of Knowledge

13. The Place of the Library



Lisa Block de Behar explores the trope of quotation in the works of Jorge Luis Borges.


"Barthes once wrote that the only way to read a work of passion is with another work of passion. What was true for Barthes is equally true for Lisa Block de Behar, whose three or more decades of scholarly activity have produced an imposing body of scholarship on the work of Jorge Luis Borges, but more importantly and more urgently have resulted in the invention of a new way of thinking about the activity of reading and the nature of meaning itself." — From the introduction by William Egginton

Borges cites innumerable authors in the pages making up his life's work, and innumerable authors have cited and continue to cite him. More than a figure, then, the quotation is an integral part of the fabric of his writing, a fabric made anew by each reading and each re-citation it undergoes, in the never-ending throes of a work-in-progress. Block de Behar makes of this reading a plea for the very art of communication; a practice that takes community not in the totalized and totalizable soil of pre-established definitions or essences, but on the ineluctable repetitions that constitute language as such, and that guarantee the expansiveness—through etymological coincidences of meaning, through historical contagions, through translinguistic sharings of particular experiences—of a certain index of universality.

Lisa Block de Behar is Professor of Semiotics and Theory of Interpretation at the Universidad de la Republica in Montevideo, Uruguay and is a renowned Jorge Luis Borges scholar. William Egginton is Assistant Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York.


"A dazzling display of citational proliferation on, in, and through Borges. Block de Behar conducts a spectacular and echoic textual ensemble of resonant polyphony in allusive harmony and suggestive counterpoint." — Djelal Kadir, Pennsylvania State University