Supervisor: dr Emanuel Prower
Thesis presented in part fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in the University of Silesia
INSTITUTE OF BRITISH AND AMERICAN LITERATURE AND CULTURE
Referring to the three literary texts dealt with throughout the thesis I use the following abbreviated titles:
F Borges, Jorge Luis. 1995 (1st ed. 1956). Ficciones. Madrid: Alianza Editorial.
BM Lodge, David. 1983 (1st ed. 1965). The British Museum is Falling Down. Penguin Books
NR Eco, Umberto. 1986 (1st ed. 1980). Il nome della rosa. Milano: Bompiani.
The transcription of the English version of "La Biblioteca de Babel" can be found in the appendix. The translation, as well as the translations of fragments from the story appearing in the text of the thesis, are adapted from:
Other unacknowledged translations are mine.
The library is to be found as an element of a lot of cultural products. In narrative literature it is especially frequent. Victorian detective fiction is chockfull of mysterious libraries and librarians (Garret 1991: 376). In: http://www.simmons.edu/resources/libraries/gslis/bibliomysteries.html over seven hundred literary texts in which libraries or librarians play some literarily significant role are listed. Among this multitude of fiction riddled with libraries there are some where the library is central to the narrative functioning of the text in question. Perhaps the most widely known fictional library is the one in The Name of the Rose. In Umberto Eco's 1980 novel (and in its 1986 film version) the huge medieval monastic library is the text�s symbolic object par excellence (Gritti 1991: 104-105). The library serves as a model of intertextual universe � i.e. the source of this novel and all literature. Like everything in this book, the library is also extracted from other texts: in general it derives from all the tradition of bibliomystery (a fiction where mysterious things happen in a library setting), but more directly it is a version of the universal library from Borges's "La Biblioteca de Babel" (F: 89-100; see appendix). Echoing Jorge Borges, Eco names his evil librarian "Jorge de Burgos" because "one pays ones debts", as he says in a postscript to The Name of the Rose (NR: 515).
The intertextual dialog between The Name of the Rose and Borges's short stories has been pointed out by the majority of the novel's critics. Ossola discusses the various sources of the "rose" in Eco's novel and quotes Borges's poem "La Rosa profunda" as one of them (Ossola 1984: 482-483). Nadine (1987: 115-131) mentions Jorge Borges, together with a variety of other authors, throughout his informal article, omitting full references and generally defying style guides: this strategy is part of the point the article makes: The Name of the Rose, and the rest of literature (and criticism) is a result of texts talking to themselves rather than authors creating and controlling them. Bondanella (1997: 101-104) in the chapter devoted to The Name of the Rose, apart from calling the attention to the general indebtedness of Eco to Borges, also sees parallels in their views on detective fiction as one of the most ordered and structured genres. McGrady's article deals specifically with Borges's influences on Il nome della rosa (1987: 787-807). He discovers echoes of the various Ficciones stories in the novel. "Tl�n, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" provides the model for the confused bibliographical references of the preface and "La Biblioteca de Babel" is reincarnated in the monastic library. He then focuses on the parallelisms between the novel's intrigue and the structure of "La muerte y la br�jula". Garret (1991: 378-384)comments more specifically on the role of the library in Eco's novel. He comments on the omnipresence of Borges and his fiction as sources for the novel's preoccupation with libraries, librarians and manuscripts. He sees "La Biblioteca de Babel" as an archetypal library dystopia and as the textual model of the labyrinthine library in The Name of the Rose.
The re-elaboration of Borges's themes in Il nome della rosa seems a conscious strategy and is apparently fairly obvious to most commentators. There is, however, also a less known novel which enters intertextual dialog with Borges and Eco. It is David Lodge's The British Museum is Falling Down first published in 1965, between the dates of publication of the two other texts.
It uses strategies of intertextual transformations profusely, being a series of pastiches and parodies of modernist writers, namely Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway, Henry James, Franz Kafka, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Fr. Rolfe, C.P. Snow and Virginia Woolf (in author's afterword to BM: 168). Little critical attention has been devoted to this novel. Perhaps the treatment most relevant to the present thesis is provided by Morace in a chapter of The Dialogic Novels of Malcolm Bradbury and David Lodge (1989: 132-141). Morace's analysis of this novel (and all the others he deals with) is based on the Bachtinian concept of the dialogic. Using techniques of parody and juxtaposing conflicting voices without authorially resolving the conflict, Lodge puts together a novel which resonates with echoes of disparate styles and appropriating the literary tradition at the same time undermines its authority. And what is of most interest to us, the novel features the British Museum Library in a protagonist-like role.
This novel and Il nome della rosa differ significantly in many aspects. The former has 160 pages, the latter exceeds 500. The former is an easy-to-read comic academic picaresque, the latter a Latin-laden pseudo-detective story, full of philosophical and theological argument. They nevertheless share the central role the library plays in their plot as well as a number of other recurring motives. These include:
To my knowledge these correspondences have not been pointed out or accounted for. This may be partly due to the fact that they do not seem to spring from any direct influence of Lodge's novel on Eco's work (unlike the explicitly acknowledged references to Borges). In the present thesis, after a short chapter presenting the most relevant ideas of intertextual theory, elements common to the three texts, and especially to the two novels, will be analyzed in some detail. Following some of the existing accounts of the library motive in fiction, the perspective of intertextuality will be adopted in order to arrive at an interpretation of the observed correspondences.
It will be claimed that the library as a literary motive reappears in the texts examined because it serves perfectly to illustrate and narrativize the relations of fictions to reality and to other fictions. Among its many other possible meanings, the library is principally an embodiment of the concept of intertextuality as anticipated by Borges and Bachtin, and elaborated by Julia Kristeva, Roland Barthes and other theorists. An attempt will be made to demonstrate how the novelistic practice in Il nome and The British Museum is not only an illustration but also an application of the theories alluded to. It will also be argued that the least popular of the three texts, The British Museum, can be read as anticipating and avant la lettre parodying the library motive as present in Il nome della rosa