Averroes's Search

Averroes's Search

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Averroes's Search

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"Averroës's Search" (original Spanish title: "La Busca de Averroes") is a 1947 short story by the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. Originally published in the magazine Sur, it was later included in his second anthology of short stories, El Aleph.

Plot summary

The story imagines the difficulty of Averroës, the famed Arabic commentator and translator of Aristotle, in explaining the concepts of tragedy and comedy. Averroës's difficulty lies in the fact that these concepts could not be expressed in Arabic; no appropriate words existed in Averroës's culture.

The process of writing the story is meant to parallel the events in the story itself; Borges writes in an afterword to the story that his attempt to understand Averroës was as doomed as Averroës's attempt to understand drama. "I felt that the work mocked me, foiled me, thwarted me. I felt that Averroës, trying to imagine what a play is without ever having suspected what a theater is, was no more absurd than I, trying to imagine Averroës yet with no more material than a few snatches from Renan, Lane, and Asín Palacios."

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