A Glimpse into the World of Jorge Luis Borges: An Exploration of Transculturation in “El evangelio según Marcos”
In “The Gospel according to St. Mark,” Borges weaves the idea of transculturation into his understanding of rewriting. “Transculturation” describes the phenomenon of merging and converging cultures, a process that encompasses more than transition from one culture to another, and consequently creates a new cultural phenomenon. Borges’ transfer of the crucifixion on Golgotha, the central act of Christianity, to an Argentine ranch, rewrites a foundational book in western culture and complicates the opposition between the European nations and Latin American peoples. In this story, Borges imagines the Gutre family, whose forebears, the Guthries of Inverness, descendants of Christians, have become barbarians. With the blending of their reddish hair and Indian features, two traditions survive “in their blood, like faint tracks: “the rigid fanaticism of the Calvinist and the superstitions of the pampa Indian”. Borges imagines Espinosa as himself, a product of the inheritance and freethinking just as his father and his Catholic mother. Borges’ rewriting is itself a cultural hybrid, a literary expression of the plural ethnicity inherent in all of his characters as much as it is a product of Borges’ own understanding of his own inheritance. Borges “barbarizes” the Gospel as a way to reinscribe the original text and vindicate America as a privileged site of enunciation but also his own task as writer, to rewrite into his own language. Borges’ rewriting is intertwined with the way in which he conceived his own identity, not as a stable reality, but constantly changing (“The Argentine writer and tradition”).