• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

Book chapter

‘Gradations of Fictivity’: Borges and the Music of the Spheres in Richard Powers’s Orfeo

P. 31-46.

In Richard Powers's novel Orfeo (2014), the literary legacy of Jorge Luis Borges manifests itself in both narrative form and subject matter. Powers's main character and focalizer Peter Els begins by setting the Argentine's poetry to music and ends up becoming a composer-analogue to the notorious Pierre Menard, "author" of Don Quixote. Managing to develop a material, biochemical realization of the abstract "music of the spheres," the protagonist engages the reader in an intrinsic intellectual jeu, whereupon we are trapped to experience "gradations of fictivity"--i.e. the idea that some fictional subjects and events can be "less" fictive than others, which Wolf Schmid (2003) denounces on (narrato)logical grounds. By developing an embodied rapport with Els and his music, Powers's readers are brought to appreciate the music that noone can hear, just like Borges's audience is provided a direct access to an existent text by a non-existent novelist, Pierre Menard.

In book

‘Gradations of Fictivity’: Borges and the Music of the Spheres in Richard Powers’s Orfeo
Iss. 10: Literatuur en muziek/Literature and Music. Gent: Academia Press, 2018.