Explorers of the Human Brain: The Neurological Insights of Borges and Ramon y Cajal

Novillo-Corvalan, Patricia (2015) Explorers of the Human Brain: The Neurological Insights of Borges and Ramon y Cajal. In: Novillo-Corvalan, Patricia, ed. Latin American and Iberian Perspectives on Literature and Medicine. Routledge, New York, pp. 23-44. ISBN 978-1-138-82390-7. (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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Abstract

This chapter investigates the literary and scientific nexus between the Spanish writer-physician and Nobel laureate, Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934) and the Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986). In the first part, I explore the complex interplay between art and medicine in the work of Cajal by examining his ground-breaking scientific research vis-à-vis his artistic and literary production. In the second part of the chapter, I focus on Cajal’s science fiction story ‘The Corrected Pessimist’ (1905) and Borges’s celebrated ficción ‘Funes the Memorious’ (1942), arguing that both tales yield provocative hypotheses based on the creation of characters simultaneously gifted and afflicted with superhuman powers of vision and memory respectively that eventually render their lives unbearable. This line of enquiry seeks to show that Cajal and Borges apply analogous philosophico-scientific premises to their fictions and reach parallel conclusions. Their compelling fictional narratives reveal an epistemological preoccupation with what Oliver Sacks has defined as the ‘neurology of identity’ (Sacks 1985), particularly the way in which sensory perceptions and memory determine our understanding of the world and shape our notion of the self.

Item Type: Book section
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PC Romance languages
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Comparative Literature
Depositing User: Patricia Novillo-Corvalan
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2015 14:39 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2017 11:13 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/47077 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Novillo-Corvalan, Patricia: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0751-1930
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