Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Government and International Affairs

Major Professor

Pablo Brescia, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Bernd Reiter, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Madeline Camara, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Gabriele Bizzarri, Ph.D.


Argentine Literature, intertextuality, Italian Literature, precursor, transatlantic literature


The word precursor is a term that suggests something that comes before, that anticipates. However, what would happen if literature (beginning with Borges) would change this concept? The binary canons of before and after would disappear and with them the idea of a chronological literary temporality. As Borges suggests in the essay “Kafka and his precursors”, precursors can be identified due to the existence of Kafka who (as all writers) choose his literary “fathers”. What Borges suggests is that this choice not only modifies the future, but also the past.

To explore this literary and philosophical idea, Borges will be examined in comparison with three Italian authors (Dante Alighieri, Italo Calvino and Umberto Eco). These authors built literary relationships among them; for example, Borges wrote and spoke about Dante; and Calvino and Eco about Borges. The challenge of my project is to demonstrate how these cross-referenced readings can change the linearity of literature. First, Dante’s influence of Borges has been well studied but I contend also that Dante would be borgeano because in his Divine Comedy we can find Borges’ main ideas (such as the ones presented in his story “The Aleph”). Eco y Calvino, on the other hand, are Borges’ precursors because in their essays and conferences they talk of a way of doing literature or of speaking about it that becomes universal, without references to space or time. Calvino does it through his Six memos for the next Millennium, where his ideas about the literature to come (lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility and multiplicity) are central in the Argentinian's work. Eco, through a series of articles and his book The open work, explains how a text can be interpreted by each reader and thus always subject to new understandings. Due to their work, we can see how literature is flexible and can be studied not only in a temporal sense but also as a series of books that are in constant communication.