Borges on Johnson and Boswell.

….Now, in the same way that we have seen how Johnson is similar to Don Quixote, we have to think that just as Sancho is the companion Quixote sometimes treats badly, we see Boswell in that same relation to Dr. Johnson: a sometimes stupid and loyal companion. There are characters whose role is to bring out the hero’s personality. In other words, often authors need a character who serves as a framework for and a contrast to the deeds of his hero. This is Sancho, and that character in Boswell’s work is Boswell himself. That is, Boswell appears as a despicable character. But it seems impossible to me that Boswell didn’t realize this. And this shows that Boswell positioned himself in contrast to Johnson. The fact that Boswell himself tells anecdotes in which he appears ridiculous makes him not seem ridiculous at all, for if he wrote them down, he did it because he saw that the purpose of the anecdote was to make Johnson stand out.

New Directions are releasing Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature, which features 25 lectures by Borges translated into English for the first time, and NYRB has posted this excerpt.

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Filed under Literature, Philosophy + Theory + Criticism

One response to “Borges on Johnson and Boswell.

  1. Pingback: Rojak: Hold it. | Who Killed Lemmy Caution?

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