Borges and Nationalism: Urban Myth and Nation-Dreaming in the 1920s

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This article explores Jorge Luis Borges’s reconceptualization of the periphery of Buenos Aires in the 1920s by focusing on his poetry collection Fervor de Buenos Aires (1923) and a number of his critical essays of the same period. It becomes clear that Borges opts for the liminal landscape of the orillas — the borders between Buenos Aires and the Pampa — in order to create an essentialist myth for the city and, metonymically, for the entire nation in an era when the country's most enduring national narrative – criollismo – is imperilled by immigration and modernization, most strikingly in the capital city. Part 1, ‘Changing landscapes: From ultraísmo to criollismo’, follows Borges’s return to Argentina in 1921 and contextualizes his swift transformation from a fervent ultraist and ‘a good European’ into an impassioned criollo who ventures into the city’s most progressive region – the suburbs – in an attempt to rehabilitate Pampean criollismo against the indomitable backdrop of modernity. Part 2, ‘The intimate na(rra)tion: A close up of Fervor’, studies in more detail the conceptual nation-rebuilding that Borges undertakes in his first poetry collection, and links it to contemporary theories on nationalism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-58
JournalJournal of Iberian and Latin American Studies
Issue number1
Early online date22 Sept 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Borges
  • Fervor de Buenos Aires
  • nationalism
  • criollismo
  • ideology


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