This article examines Jorge Luis Borges’s ingenious, largely dehistoricized interpretations and imitations of seventeenth-century writers typically called Baroque. It contends that the aesthetic, epistemological, and metaphysical values Borges assigns to works by Cervantes, Góngora, Quevedo, Gracián, Marino, Browne, Pascal, Leibniz, Angelus Silesius, and Spinoza depend largely on his conservative notions of how style and, specifically, metaphor should work. While writers from the historical Baroque often require readers to embrace hermeneutic difficulty, Borges, despite the ingenious difficulty of his own writings, refuses to countenance this stance. This refusal turns also on Borges’s distinction between writing he fervently praises as “classic” and writing he ambiguously blames as “baroque.” The former serves as the explicit model for his own invention; but the latter implicitly, agonistically, informs much of his thinking and writing as well. Borges’s unwillingness to distinguish the historical Baroque from a recurring, eternal baroque is understandable, given his philosophy of art and history; however, it ignores how periodization can have the heuristic and conceptual function of finding unity in multiplicity, a unity that includes divergent styles and ideologies.

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