Literature: The minotaur and Borges

Gordon Jackson writes: Re the Cretan minotaur in literature, the late Argentinean author Jorge Luis Borges gave a surprising twist to the tale of Theseus, Ariadne, and the minotaur by telling the story from the minotaur's point of view in "La casa de Asterión."  (Writing about Borges and the story, critic Enrique Anderson Imbert asserted that Borges, trapped in a metaphysical labyrinth and hoping that someone would liberate him from it, was the minotaur.) RH: Here is a summary of the tale: The classical monster known as the Minotaur is re-represented as a sensitive loner whose home, the labyrinth, is as complex a space as the character's mentality. The story ends with the revelation that the first-person narrator is the Minotaur, previously only known by his human name: Asterión. In typical fashion, Borges thus forces his reader to confront the Otherness of the monster as both a distanced human character, and also later, after the revelation, through a traditional perspective. The article therefore explores the objectification of the monster as the object, drawing on the theories of Julia Kristeva, and the importance of Asterión's mother, the Queen, as a key to his identity. The objectification of the monster is shown to be connected to his femininity, demonstrating just one way in which Borges twists conventions in both his characterization and his narrative style.

RH: The femininity of the bull??? Clearly, Borges preferred fiction to faction. He was an odd character. This is a good opportunity to announce that my large collection of interviews with Latin American celebrities, including Borges, has been put on DVDs and is now deposited in the Hoover Archives.

Ronald Hilton 2005


last updated: April 16, 2005