The Fashioning of Jorge Luis Borges: Magazines, Books, and Print Culture in Argentina (1930-1951)

Benedict, Nora, Spanish - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Anderson, Andrew, Department for Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia

This dissertation provides the first bibliographical study of the materiality of Jorge Luis Borges’s publications during one of the most active periods of his career (1930-1951). The scope and methodologies employed offer new ways of understanding his relationship to the publishing industry that was such a central part of Buenos Aires during the first half of the twentieth century. In particular, my work examines the physical features of the mediums that Borges employed throughout his career (newspaper, magazines, books), how these were composed (paper, typography, bindings), the audience that such publications might have reached (cost, number of copies, distribution, circulation), the publishers with whom he entered into contracts (Editorial Sur, Losada, Sudamericana, etc.), and how all of these factors might have influenced his overall formation as a writer. Although there are a few recent studies on Argentine book history, trade, and markets (Abraham 2012, Dujovne 2014, de Diego 2015), information and insights from this work have not yet been applied to Borges, or his stint as an amateur publisher.

The first chapter provides a detailed analysis of the presence of books and other print media in Borges’s work. Throughout this chapter I consider the different jobs that Borges held during this period (librarian, co-editor of various magazines and periodicals, director of various collections and edited anthologies), the presentation and description of books and other print media in his works, and ultimately the physical features that his own writings take. My second chapter examines the relationships between Borges and three unique publishing houses during the early 1930s. What is most notable from this early period in his career is the fact that he established close ties with fine printers and publishers known for their luxury editions (Manuel Gleizer and Francisco A. Colombo) while also working for mass-media publications and publishing his first piece of fiction with a publisher whose only interest was monetary gain (Editorial Tor). In essence, this early stage in Borges’s literary career is one that is marked by a large amount of activity and variation from one work to the next, suggesting the newness of the world of book production in Argentina. My third and fourth chapters show the marked shift toward critique, criticism, and marketing in Borges’s writings during the late 1930s and early 1940s, focusing on his columns in the magazine El Hogar and his creation of anthologies and edited collections for the Editorial Sudamericana and Emecé Editores. More broadly speaking, these chapters focus on how many of Borges’s literary endeavors during this same time period show the importance and the impact of the publishing industry for crafting (and branding) a particular product for the Argentine reading public. My fifth and sixth chapters look more broadly at how Borges’s connections to elite circles, such as that of Victoria Ocampo’s Editorial Sur, during this time are not only a constant underlying force in his own writings and literary production, but also a key source of his marketing strategies in the book industry and help fuel the creation of his two apocryphal publishing houses in the 1930s and 1940s.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Borges, Analytical Bibliography, Material Studies, Print Culture, Books, Publishing History, Twentieth-Century Argentina
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