Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

English (Literature)

Department or School/College

Department of English

Committee Chair

Casey Charles

Commitee Members

Brady Harrison, James Jacobs


jorge luis borges, jorge volpi


University of Montana


In 1992 a Mexican literary group was formed called the Crack generation. The group’s manifesto speaks of a disillusioned culture, which has strayed far from the traditions of the historically great authors. Disillusionment occurs not only from the type of writing entering mainstream society, but also because of a shift in cultural values: video games, television, and virtual reality have replaced the epistemological search for knowledge and identity. The Crack group asks, how can we rupture from the current, distracted state of the world? One of the Crack members, Jorge Volpi, emphasizes human behavior as the means toward restoring the critical search for personal and collective meaning. As the group gazes back to Dante, Shakespeare, Cervantes, etc., Volpi focuses on one author in particular: Jorge Luis Borges. In Jorge Volpi’s novel, In Search of Klingsor, a dialogue is established with Jorge Borges based on Borges’s lifelong desire (and ultimately his self-proclaimed failure) to discover personal meaning in an imagined space he called the Total Library. Borges’s identity and oeuvre will be viewed in the context of his short story, “The Garden of Forking Paths.” Through an application of Georg Cantor’s infinite set theory I will examine how Borges presents spaces in the text for the reader to imagine infinite freedom, or as the Crack group would explain, the ability to assert an authentic identity. In turn, the story will be visualized in terms of Douglas Hofstadter’s concept of the Strange Loop. In turn, I will approach Volpi’s In Search of Klingsor in terms of an alternative method in Cantor’s work. I will use theories of quantum mechanics and relativity to explain the application of philosopher Daniel Dennett to this new application of Cantor; Dennett’s theory shifts the idea of moments of free will into a constant source of autonomy. The significance of Volpi’s message to the world is supported not only by his Mexican literary group, but also by an audience who is beginning to feel the weight of disillusionment. The idea of reclaiming ourselves (our freedoms, our identities, and our effect on the world around us) confirms Borges’s place in the Total Library—without him, there would be no Crack.

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© Copyright 2007 Agatha Kathleen Shwayder