On Expressionism by Jorge Luis Borges

About seven years ago, a friend of mine gave me a copy of On Writing by Jorge Luis Borges. It’s been sitting on my shelf ever since. No more excuses. Let’s see what this Borges fellow has to say.

Today’s pick is his essay titled On Expressionism. If you didn’t already know (I didn’t), expressionism was a movement in which artists aimed to convey emotional experience over physical reality. An example of this would be Edvard Munch’s The Scream (I know, yikes). According to Borges, expressionism was born in the reaction to World War II, a time of seemingly random destruction and pain and fear. In the spirit of these intense emotions, artists set aside perfection and instead opted to stir powerful feelings in their audiences, even if they had to warp reality to do so.

I’ll close this post with a quote. “In the best expressionist poems there is the vigorous imperfection of a mutiny.”


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