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Priel, B. (2001). Negation in Borges'S ‘The Secret Miracle’ Writing the Shoah. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 82(4):785-794.

(2001). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 82(4):785-794

Negation in Borges'S ‘The Secret Miracle’ Writing the Shoah

Beatriz Priel

The author presents a psychoanalytic reading of Borges's ‘The secret miracle’ (1943), a short story about the Shoah, for which Freud's concept of negation (Verneinen) and recent psychoanalytic approaches to symbolisation and the functions of fiction form the theoretical background. She argues that the effects of negation, present in literary fiction, become forcefully magnified in the fiction of the Shoah, because of its specific inversion of the relations between life and art. This magnification increases the perplexing effect that is characteristic of Borges's heterotopies. The story is read as a metaphor of transformative processes that closely follow Freud's dual conceptualisation of negation as a defence and as allowing the repressed a way into consciousness. This study illuminates the conservation of the relations between external and internal realities as a basic difference between negation and related concepts such as disavowal (Verleugnung), and repression, in relation to creative imagination. The author relates the story's perplexing effect to its subversion of fundamental axioms such as temporality, questioning the existence of sense itself and suggests that the malaise the story produces may stem from the way in which its narrative structure negates time, the fabric from which narratives—and life—are woven.

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