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The construction of fantastic spaces: Tlön, Les cités obscures and the cognitive power of fiction

Riberi, Alejandro


Alejandro Riberi


In this paper I will establish similarities between Jorge Luis Borges'"Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis, Tertius" ("Tlön") and the graphic novels Les Cités Obscures byFrançois Schuiten and Benoît Peeters. "Tlön" is largely grounded in the ‘as if'principle: ‘If idealism governs reality, then...' The ‘as if' allows Borges to disjoin andconjoin again, the result being an utopian world erected for epistemic purposes; it is inthis ‘otherness' that the explanatory power lies. The idea of describing thoroughlyanother world in Tlön fashion has been developed in Les Cités Obscures, a series ofgraphic novels produced since 1982 by François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters.Schuiten and Peeters lavishly use architectural décor for the setting of their stories.The city of Brussels, slightly displaced into Brüsel, appears in most of the albums. Bymeans of extrapolating elements of the city's rich architectural heritage, the authorshave managed to create a universe of their own. The procedure is similar to schematicfictions: general types are deprived of unnecessary traits to make it easier to single outconstituent elements. Like Tlön, Les Cités are a re-cognisable world. They direct ourregard upon cultural practices, architectural styles and history by means ofsuperimposing transparencies, a well-known method in which Borges excelled.


Riberi, A. (2010). The construction of fantastic spaces: Tlön, Les cités obscures and the cognitive power of fiction. Lejana, 1(February),

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Feb 15, 2010
Journal Lejana
Electronic ISSN 2061-6678
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 1
Issue February
Keywords Literature; Postmodernism; Theory of fiction; Epistemology
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The Copyright is exclusive property of their authors. The total or partial reproduction of works published in LEJANA should follow the norms established by CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Licencia Internacional.

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