Borgesian Illuminations in Isable Allende’s Eva Luna

Paul M. Willenberg

“I wrote that during those enchanted weeks time expanded, curled back on itself, turned inside out like a magician’s handkerchief” (307).

Just as in Circular Ruins, if we are all Aunt Jamima imaginations, dreams, illusions of something (someone) else, than there is no time. If we only need the concept of time to interact with an external reality, and that external reality is dictated by something else, than all that becomes important is our control over our internal reality and our internal time. Eva Luna, in her “enchanted weeks” creates a new time and reality independent of the external world. That is not to say that she has complete control over time, merely that her time and reality are separate and distinct. Her time curls back on itself like the repeated symbols in The Zahir, The Aleph. It curls back to repeat themes, emotions. So then, Eva Luna personifies time itself as a magician.

“A love I did not have to invent, only clothe in all its glory so it could endure in memory - in keeping with the principle that we can construct reality in the image of our desires” (307).

Warren Moon “clothes” his betrayal with emotion so that it can live on in his memory. Through retelling the story, he constructs a reality for himself, one in which the incident defines his identity. Through memory he has created an artificial reality. Conversely, the librarians in Babel construct their own reality through interpretation. They each create a reality defined by their interpretation. Thus, we are all imperfect librarians. We perceive and interpret only what we are able and desire. They see and create a world interpreted by them. It has cohesiveness to each individual librarian and only to them. So, they do not have to “invent” reality. They merely need to perceive to “construct a reality.” Just as in The Witness, The Library of Babel, The Circular Ruins, The Garden of Forking Paths, any infinite possibility that we can imagine has a distinct and individual reality in our present, past, future, or alternate universes. Eva Luna’s desires correlate to Borges’ emphasis on dreams. Together they show that our dreams are a manifestation of possible realities. Furthermore, they help us understand and conceive the present. Eva Luna uses her fantasy life to contrast and provide perspective for her external reality.