Borges and the Invention of Hypertext

In my reading of “The Garden of Forking Paths,” I was struck by the similarity in Borges’ style to the genre of hypertext, or texts which allow readers to choose or somehow influence the outcome of the story. Indeed, one could claim that Borges’ writing was a precursor or even the first instance of such a text; his narrative creates a seemingly infinite labyrinth of possibilities, the complexity of which rivals the fictional labyrinth of Ts’ui Pên, a creation of Borges himself. Borges is a master of paradox and recursion, and we find both of these elements in the text. Interestingly, Borges work evokes the attitude of the “many-world interpretation” known to quantum physicists, which states that all possible histories and futures are real and exist simultaneously. Borges’ narrative strategy pushes readers to imagine different outcomes of the story, ones in which perhaps Dr. Tsun does not kill his friend. The implication that the possibilities are endless leads readers to question the outcome with which they are presented, urging them to think more deeply into the story. However, despite the labyrinth of thought that the narrative creates, Borges presents his audience with only one outcome: Dr Tsun’s triumph, which costs him his life, as well as the life of his friend.

One Response to “Borges and the Invention of Hypertext”

  1. Kim Sasser says:

    It’s mind-boggling the way Borges foresees the world wide web’s hypertext, something which seems to have come right out of his stories. Does Borges mystify the internet, or the internet Borges?…

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