Confronting the Shadow: The Hero's Journey in Borges El Etnógrafo

Rowlandson, William (2012) Confronting the Shadow: The Hero's Journey in Borges El Etnógrafo. Journal of Romance Studies, 12 (2). pp. 17-32. ISSN 14733536. E-ISSN 1752-2331. (doi:https://doi.org/10.3167/jrs.2012.120202) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/jrs.2012.120202

Abstract

This article focuses on 'El Etnógrafo' ['The Anthropologist' (di Giovanni trans.)], a brief and deceptively simple tale from Borges' Elogio de la sombra (1969) [In Praise of Darkness (1975)]. The tale's protagonist, Fred Murdock, undergoes a profound transformation whilst conducting anthropological field research in the North American prairie, centred on his separation from his home and his dialogue with the tribal medicine man. In particular, under the instruction of the medicine man, Murdock learns to focus on and recount his dreams. The brief narrative may be appraised and amplified as embodying characteristics of the hero's journey as examined by Carl Jung, and as illustrated by Joseph Campbell. In this perspective, Murdock accepts the call to adventure, engages in symbolic struggles, experiences a deep and transformative healing with the shaman, and returns home empowered with deeper wisdom. In this article I concentrate on the pattern of the hero's journey as depicted both in 'El Etnógrafo' and in other tales of Borges, evaluating the particular healing dimension of the confrontation with the personal and collective shadow, the relationship with the wise senex-figure of the medicine man, and the attention to the language of dreams. I consider, consequently, the nature of psychic healing as portrayed both within the narrative – Murdock's journey – and outside the narrative – the reader's journey, as twin epistemological destinations. This article constitutes part of a larger project that evaluates the relationship between Borges' aesthetic obra and Jung's psychological writings, their shared attention to mysticism and to the role of dreams, myths, narratives, creativity and active imagination, healing and the process of individuation.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures > Hispanic Studies
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Hispanic Studies
Depositing User: Fiona Godfrey
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2014 12:28 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2015 09:58 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/43240 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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