‘‘The Aleph’’ is narrated by Borges, a ﬁctional stand-in for the author, which allows him to foster a sense of realism. Like the author, the narrator is an Argentine writer who detests pretentious authors like Daneri and who was also passed by for the National Prize for Literature. The narrator is a man haunted by the memory of his beloved Beatriz; bereft and longing for her company, he visits her father and cousin, Daneri, each year on her birthday, thus mourning her death on the day of her birth. While at her cousin’s, Borges studies photographs of Beatriz and (as if this were the price to be paid for such a visit to Beatriz’s images) endures the foolish pontiﬁcations of her cousin.
As a rational and conventional man, the narrator is predictably bewildered at the sight of the Aleph—and angry that a fool such as Daneri should be in the possession of something so miraculous. As a jealous and spiteful man, however, the narrator lies to Daneri by pretending to offer sound advice: the country and fresh air are ‘‘the greatest physicians,’’ he says, hoping that Daneri will abandon his house and allow the Aleph to be destroyed with it. Without the Aleph, the narrator reasons, Daneri will be unable to ﬁnish his poem. Daneri’s being awarded the Second National Prize for Literature, however, only infuriates the narrator: ‘‘Once again dullness and envy had their triumph,’’ he laments.
Carlos Argentino Daneri
Introduced in the story as the ﬁrst cousin of Borges’s beloved Beatriz, Daneri is described as a pompous, fatuous man who loves the sound of his own voice. At ﬁrst, Borges does not take him seriously, calling him ‘‘pink-faced, overweight’’ and dismissing his ‘‘minor position in an unreadable library out on the edge of the Southside of Buenos Aires.’’ Daneri delights in clichés (calling Paul Fort, for example, ‘‘the Prince of Poets’’) and overreaching pronouncements about ‘‘modern man,’’ which Borges instantly dismisses. However, as Borges (and the reader) learns, Daneri has been recording his thoughts in a poem called The Earth; his speech to Borges concerning the merits of his own work mark him as unbearably pedantic. Concerned with his career, Daneri asks Borges to solicit a foreword to his poem from another author and even suggests that Borges offer himself as a ‘‘spokesman’’ for the ‘‘undeniable virtues’’ of the poem.
Daneri is a parody of a poet, a satire of the brand of literary pretentiousness that Borges obviously found ridiculous (yet also amusing). That something as wonderful as the Aleph and that an honor as coveted as the National Prize for Literature should both be conferred on such a fool suggests both the indiscriminate nature of the universe as well as the questionable taste of the judges who award literary prizes. Daneri’s obnoxious letter to Borges, where he brags, ‘‘I have crowned my cap with the reddest of feathers,’’ cements the reader’s impression of Daneri as a bombastic opposite of the reserved and intelligent narrator.
Although not a physical presence in the story, the deceased Beatriz propels the plot: because of the narrator’s devotion to her, he visits her home each year. It is during these visits that he is taken into the conﬁdence of her cousin, Daneri, and eventually learns of the Aleph.
Zungri and his partner Zunino are the cafe owners who wish to demolish Daneri’s home so that they can expand their business.
Zunino and his partner Zungri are the cafe owners who wish to demolish Daneri’s home so that they can expand their business.
David Galens – Short Stories for Students_ Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories (Volume 17)-Gale (2003)