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Efraín Kristal, Ph.D.

Professor of Comparative Literature, Spanish, and French

University of California, Los Angeles

Born in 1959 in Lima
Studied Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, Philosophy at the École normale supérieure de Paris, and Spanish Literature at Stanford University


Jorge Luis Borges and War

Borges and war is not a topic that has captured the imagination of many literary scholars, but it was a central concern for the Argentine writer himself throughout his literary career. At the Wissenschaftskolleg, I propose to write a book on Jorge Luis Borges and war, addressing his formative years in Geneva from 1914 to 1918, the care with which he followed the rise of the Third Reich and the Second World War when he returned to his native Argentina, and the prominence of the two world wars in his literary works. I will also address Borges' stories and poems set in Latin American wars of the 19th century and in several other wars from Antiquity to the present. I will show how Borges wove his concerns about war into the fabric of his fictions, including his most philosophical ones, and how an ethical dimension in his literary world comes to the fore when his attention to war is recognized.
I am envisaging a monograph of five chapters along the following lines. An initial chapter will explore Borges' earliest writings featuring poems, parables, and translations about the First World War (WWI). The second chapter will show the extent to which Borges read and reviewed a considerable number of books on WWI in Buenos Aires after his return from Switzerland and how our understanding of his fictions is enriched when we realize the extent to which a number of them are informed by his detailed knowledge of WWI. The third chapter will show how Borges followed the rise of National Socialism in Germany; his participation in polemics with fellow Argentine intellectuals sympathetic to Hitler; and how several of his signature tales chronicle the vicissitudes of the Second World War. This chapter will also show that Borges continued writing stories with affecting references to the two world wars until the end of his life. The fourth chapter will explore Borges' writings about the wars of Spanish-American independence in the 19th century and other wars in the period that gave rise to the nations of Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
The fifth and final chapter will discuss other stories by Borges about war from Antiquity to the present. It will also address the work of several Latin American and European writers who have written novels on war inspired by Borges' legacy, or whose works can be fruitfully compared to his.

Recommended Reading

Kristal, Efraín. Tentación de la palabra: Arte literario y convicción política en las novelas de Mario Vargas Losa. Lima and Mexico City: Fondo de cultura económica, 2018.
-. "Theoretical/Philosophical Approaches to Translation." In A Companion to Translation Studies, edited by Sandra Berman and Catherine Porter, 28-40. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014.
-. Invisible Work: Borges and Translation. Nashville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University Press, 2002.

Publikationen aus der Fellowbibliothek

Kristal, Efraín ( Miraflores, Lima, 2018)
Tentación de la palabra : arte literario y convicción política en las novelas de Mario Vargas Llosa Temptation of the word

Kristal, Efraín ( Chichester [u.a.], 2014)
Philosophical/theoretical approaches to translation

Kristal, Efraín ( Philadelphia, Pa., 2014)
Jorge Luis Borges's literary response to anti-semitism and the Holocaust

Kristal, Efraín ( 2012)
An interview

Kristal, Efraín ( 2012)
From utopia to reconciliation : The Way to Paradise, The Bad Girl and The Dream of the Celt

Kristal, Efraín ( 2012)
The total novel and the novella : conversation in The Cathedral and The Cubs

Kristal, Efraín ( Cambridge [u.a.], 2012)
The Cambridge companion to Mario Vargas Llosa Mario Vargas Llosa

Kristal, Efraín ( New York, 2010)
Poems of the night : a dual-language edition with parallel text Penguin classics

Kristal, Efraín ( Cambridge [u.a.], 2005)
The Cambridge companion to the Latin American novel The Latin American novel

Kristal, Efraín ( Nashville, 2002)
Invisible work : Borges and translation


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