Mirror & Labyrinth

The topic of Poe and Borges is as compelling as it is restricted, and Professor Irwin has made sure we understand that what is narrow may also be deep. Indeed, he peers through an aperture which in his perspective opens to take in a universe. But before I speak to that fullness of vision, perhaps a glance over the shoulder may be useful.

I have noticed laterally that Professor Harold Bloom, casting wide his net, has also had something to say recently about Poe and Borges in his transumption of hysteria and whimsy, The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages. In some words on the canonical American writers. Bloom has declared in what we may interpret as a repressed reference to his own works, "Poe is too universally accepted around the world to be excluded, though his writing is almost invariably atrocious." On the other hand. Bloom celebrates the work of Jorge Luis Borges, though not convincingly, and in particular one Borgesian fable glossed by Irwin: "Death and the Compass." Professor Irwin does not share Bloom's estimate of Poe—far from it. He knows that "the care with which Poe constructed [a] passage in 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue,' indeed, suggests a poet's attention to word and image," and he is tireless in pursuing the implications of that thought.

Bloom and Irwin know what Borges himself declared: "The fact is that each writer creates...

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