Critical Analysis of the Garden of Forking Paths by Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges is an acclaimed author of Latin American Fiction. He is known for the style of presenting his works through the literary device of magic realism. Throughout his works, he is fascinated with incoherent magical gaze of time, the multiple realities existing in labyrinths and he is adept to write commentaries on imaginary books which do not exist.
In the Garden of Forking Paths, the protagonist is a spy and the story is written on the backdrop of World War 1. His task is to transmit a secret message to his German counterparts. He is being pursued by Madden. He takes a journey by train to the house the renowned Sinologist Dr. Stephen Albert. There the discussion revolves around an unfinished book written by the Father of the protagonist. In the book multiple plots exist. For example: in one situation a man is a friend and in another an enemy and then rivals meet and shoot each other and then escape. The surprising part of the story is that the protagonist shoots Albert and then gets arrested by Madden. Borges reveals in the end that he is able to deliver secret of the bombing of a certain town by the Germans.
The narrative structure of the story is a straight forward one, going from the beginning to the end. The story follows the traditional lines of storytelling. The plot is not a very convincing one and reveals the struggle of the literary author to create it.
The protagonist who is a spy rather than being true his tradition is portrayed as a person who is interested in Literature. He is constantly contemplating about and incoherent manuscript of his ancestor, a created labyrinth. The author’s interest in labyrinths is a paradoxical fictional ambiguity. Is there a ‘trace’ of meaning when one over throws or delves into the semantic structure of meaning. One comes to the emptiness of sign and what alone rests is a literary adornment. The writing of the authors resembles more of a commentary than a work of fiction.
The meaning of time is contemplated fictionally. Borges attributes multiple conjectures of time. First of all, there’s time in the book which is linear one. Then there are many time zones of fiction where time is a made into an antic comic gesture of literary playfulness. For Borges, time is like Zeno’s arrow, though moving, is stationary at every path. Yes, Borges has given to us the literary aspect of time, the internalized one that revolves around the ontology of being a human one of experiences. The time of Borges resembles that of the surreal painter Dali’s melting clocks.
Though not many tropes are created, Borges goes to the extent of suggesting the metaphor. The whole story revolves around the symbolism of a metaphor. People, birds, sun rise, labyrinths and even time become metaphoric intrusions of the author’s creativity. The story becomes an imaginary encyclopedia where fictional space is imaginary as well as resting on an exaggerated hyperbole of the real.