Shades of Borges: The Construction of Identity in 'The Mirror and the Mask'
Shades of Borges is an explication of "The Mirror and The Mask" using theories, terminologies, and methodologies presented by Jean Baudrillard and Michel Foucault. In the story, the king of Ireland orders his court poet to compose three successive odes, each surpassing its predecessor. The story ends with the death of the bard and the disenthronement of the king. The thesis analyzes the differences and similarities between the individual poems using Baudrillard's theories of the four "successive phases of the image" and the ascension of simulation over representation. The transition within the story from merely representational discourse to discourse that exists as an event is examined using four methodological principles advanced by Foucault--the principles of "reversal, discontinuity, specificity, and exteriority." The formation, construction, and preservation of identity within the story is analyzed throughout the thesis using applicable aspects of these and other theories, including Foucault's conception of the author and author-function. The thesis concludes by offering a fascinating hypothesis for possible future study-- "That the production of written discourse results in a nearly permanent and immutable authorial identity, but the construction of individual identity occurs in the fluid elasticity of oral discourse, in the malleable ephemerality of the spoken word."
Baland, Timothy, "Shades of Borges: The Construction of Identity in 'The Mirror and the Mask'" (1993). Honors Theses. 331.
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