I agree with this commentary, though I wonder how it can be made to
exist in the current state of publishing. Possibly one could have a
total virtual library--though I love paper but could print out I
assume--but how do you see a reader finding a way through a total
library? This is a real question--I think Borges is right, but the books
that have been recovered have, ironically, been the ones in libraries.
Recovery has to include some distribution.

>>> 01/03/10 7:55 PM >>>
One strength of Borges' conception of the open, inclusive library is
that texts disfavored at the time of their creation or subsequently but
widely read and appreciated by later audiences and then again disfavored
would have a perpetual home in the tradition, available for recovery and
rereading. That approach would avoid the need for scholars like Judith
Fetterley to "recover" and resurrect even relatively recent texts that a
male dominated publishing industry has rendered unavailable. Borges'
library is a helpful precondition for the preservation of work by
incompletely or never enfranchised writers. It avoids the problem of
Gray's unseen blushing rose and renders us the richer while at the same
time permitting the possibility of learning from a wider range of
thought than that allowed by a patriarchal tradition implicitly driven
and limited by contemporary bias and the limits of market capitalism.

-----Original Message-----
From: Nancy Gish 
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sun, Jan 3, 2010 4:37 pm
Subject: Interesting examples--Eliot and internationalism

I think these are just examples of points of departure. [both come from
the conclusions of the articles if you wish to check them.] But both
strike me as ways of thinking that are not present in most of what we
read. I do not have any investment in either claim; I just find them
deeply interesting and unlike most Anglo-American discussions, though I
think Hugh MacDiarmid took a line much like that of Borges in his vision
of worldwide inclusion. I would love to hear reactions:

From "Jorges Luis Borges Rewrites Eliot" by Juan E. De Castro:

More than Eliot's Eurocentric and rather abstract literary order,
Borges's tradition is a 'library, where ideally everything is preserved
and where the system of preservation makes no distinction at all between
good books and bad' (Guillory 1995, 240). The library is one of the
central figures in Borges's writings; indeed, in 'Poem of the Gifts', he
claims "I imagined paradise as a library' (1996m 146). Borges explored
the notion of the 'total library'--a library that includes every
possible book--in his essay of the same name and, in nightmarish terms,
in his story, 'The Library of Babel'.

. . . 

Borges's conceptualization of tradition as a library implies a denial of
qualitative classification based on influence, content, place of origin,
language or putative quality. Moreover, he hints at the possibility of a
non-Eurocentric version of literary tradition that would include, but
not be limited to, the literary monuments of Europe. His denial of
chronology and his privileging of the act of reading in the constitution
of tradition is designed to empower writers from apparently marginal or
supposedly new countries. In this, as in his ability to combine Eutopean
cultural elements with local Argentine and non-Western elements, Borges
is indeed, as Aizenerg maintained, a 'postcolonial precursor', who is
'for postcolonial writers . . . a reference point beyond his general
preeminence in a European-North American repertoire of culture'.
Yet it is necessary to keep in mind that Borges's vision of tradition is
a modification--even radicalization--of ideas found in Eliot's
'Tradition and the Individual Talent'. Like Eliot, Borges is ultimately
concerned with reconciling an awareness of literary tradition with
innovation, in other words, of transforming the European and World
traditions from cultural dead weights into sources of literary
productivity and innovation. By using Epoint for conclusions that contradict the poet's Eurocentric vision of
tradition, Borges exemplifies the manner in which European texts can be
used against their grain. At the same time, the very fact that Borges's
critical innovations stem from the Anglo-American poet's influential
essay testifies to the richness of Eliot's critical writings.

or from "T. S. Eliot and La Nouvelle Revue Fran├žaise," by William Marx:

Eliot's assertion of classicism, then, made it difficult for his French
colleagues to understand his position. The writers of the NRF could not
reconcile the conservatism of Eliot's classicism with the radical
modernism of his poetry, which seemed by French standards to embody a
sort of anti-classicism. The idea that Eliot's modern poetry could
change the English tradition while supporting it seemed contradictory to
French critics, for whom rejection was requisite to progress.
Anglo-Saxon modernism issued from a supple, ever-changing tradition,
while French modernism rose up against classicism's limits. Like any
other French movement, it began as anti-classic, and was accepted as
part of the classics only when a new movement rose up to defy it. There
are two different modernisms because there are two different ways of
relating to the past, with rupture or with continuity: this was Eliot's
lesson from La Nouvelle Revue Fran├žaise.