4: Text excerpt, Jorge Luis Borges’s “The Secret Miracle,” 1943.

4: Text excerpt, Jorge Luis Borges’s “The Secret Miracle,” 1943.

In “The Secret Miracle” there are not only intertextual references but metatextual references: texts within the main text. The protagonist, Jaromir Hladik, is an author intent on finishing his magnum opus play in the eternal instant between when the Nazi bullet is fired and when it kills him. 

Suggested Activity: Have students reread pages 161–162 yet again, this time focusing on Hladik’s act of creation. Notice how Borges conceives of eternity here (as in other texts) as a “flow state” of creative production. What is the function of the story within the story? Can the two pieces of the story be read separately? What happens to the narrative when the nested story is removed?

Sources: Jorge Luis Borges, “The Secret Miracle,” translated by Andrew Hurley, Collected Fictions (New York: Penguin, 1999), 161–162. The Secret Miracle, copyright © 1998 by Maria Kodama; translation copyright © 1998 by Penguin Random House LLC; from COLLECTED FICTIONS: VOLUME 3 by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Andrew Hurley. Used by permission of Viking Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Jorge Luis Borges, "El Milagro Secreto,"Obras completas 1923-1972 (Buenos Aires: Emecé, 1974), 513–513. "El milagro secreto" by Jorge Luis Borges, currently collected in FICCIONES. Copyright © 1995 by Maria Kodama, used by permission of The Wylie Agency LLC.