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Home » The Genius of “The Maker (1960)”: A Summary by Jorge Luis Borges

The Genius of “The Maker (1960)”: A Summary by Jorge Luis Borges

In his essay “The Maker (1960),” Jorge Luis Borges explores the genius of a short story by the same name written by Jorge Luis Borges. Borges analyzes the themes, characters, and literary techniques used in the story to demonstrate the brilliance of the author’s work. This article will provide a summary of Borges’ analysis and insights into the story’s meaning and significance.

Background Information

“The Maker (1960)” is a short story written by the Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges. Borges is widely regarded as one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, known for his innovative use of metafiction and his exploration of philosophical and metaphysical themes. Born in Buenos Aires in 1899, Borges grew up in a family of intellectuals and writers. He began writing at a young age and published his first book of poetry, Fervor de Buenos Aires, in 1923. Over the course of his career, Borges wrote numerous short stories, essays, and poems, many of which have become classics of Latin American literature. “The Maker” is one of his most famous and widely anthologized works, and it showcases many of the themes and techniques that make Borges such a unique and important writer.

Plot Summary

In “The Maker (1960),” Borges tells the story of a man who creates a world within his own mind. The protagonist, a writer, becomes obsessed with his own creation and begins to believe that it is real. He spends all of his time in this world, neglecting his own life and relationships. As the story progresses, the line between reality and fantasy becomes increasingly blurred, and the writer’s mental state deteriorates. In the end, he is left alone with his creation, unable to distinguish between what is real and what is not. Borges masterfully explores the themes of creativity, obsession, and the power of the human mind in this haunting and thought-provoking tale.


The characters in “The Maker” are complex and multi-dimensional, each with their own unique motivations and desires. The protagonist, known only as “the maker,” is a brilliant inventor who is obsessed with creating the perfect machine. He is driven by a deep sense of purpose and a desire to leave his mark on the world. However, his single-minded focus on his work often leads him to neglect his relationships with those around him, including his wife and children.

The maker’s wife, Maria, is a sympathetic character who is torn between her love for her husband and her frustration with his neglect. She is a strong and independent woman who is not afraid to speak her mind, but she also deeply cares for her husband and wants to support him in his work.

Other characters in the story include the maker’s colleagues and competitors, who are all vying for recognition and success in the world of invention. There is also a mysterious figure known only as “the stranger,” who seems to have a deep understanding of the maker’s work and motivations.

Overall, the characters in “The Maker” are richly drawn and add depth and complexity to the story. They are not simply archetypes or plot devices, but fully-realized individuals with their own hopes, fears, and desires.


One of the central themes in “The Maker” is the idea of creation and the power of the imagination. Borges explores the concept of the artist as a god-like figure, capable of bringing worlds and characters to life through their craft. This theme is exemplified through the character of the titular “Maker,” who creates a world of his own and populates it with beings of his own design. However, as the story progresses, it becomes clear that the Maker’s power is not absolute, and his creations begin to rebel against him. This raises questions about the relationship between creator and creation, and the limits of artistic control. Another important theme in the story is the idea of reality and perception. The Maker’s world is presented as a kind of dream or alternate reality, and the line between what is real and what is imagined becomes increasingly blurred as the story unfolds. This theme is further explored through the character of the narrator, who is unsure whether the events he witnesses are real or simply the product of his own imagination. Overall, “The Maker” is a thought-provoking exploration of the nature of creativity and the power of the human imagination.


Symbolism plays a crucial role in “The Maker (1960)” by Jorge Luis Borges. The story is filled with various symbols that represent different ideas and themes. One of the most prominent symbols in the story is the figure of the maker himself. The maker is a representation of the creative force that exists within all of us. He is the embodiment of the human desire to create and bring something new into the world.

Another important symbol in the story is the labyrinth. The labyrinth represents the complexity of the human mind and the journey of self-discovery. The maker’s journey through the labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey of life and the search for meaning and purpose.

The use of symbolism in “The Maker (1960)” adds depth and complexity to the story. It allows readers to explore the themes and ideas presented in the story on a deeper level. Borges’ use of symbolism is a testament to his genius as a writer and his ability to create stories that are both entertaining and thought-provoking.

Style and Language

In “The Maker (1960)”, Jorge Luis Borges showcases his mastery of language and style. The story is written in a concise and precise manner, with each word carefully chosen to convey the intended meaning. Borges also employs a unique narrative structure, with the story being told from the perspective of a fictional character who is reading a book about another fictional character. This layered approach adds depth and complexity to the story, and allows Borges to explore themes such as the nature of creation and the relationship between the creator and their creation. Overall, “The Maker (1960)” is a testament to Borges’ skill as a writer and his ability to craft stories that are both intellectually stimulating and emotionally resonant.

Historical Context

In order to fully appreciate the significance of “The Maker (1960)” by Jorge Luis Borges, it is important to understand the historical context in which it was written. Borges was a prominent Argentine writer and intellectual who lived through a tumultuous period in his country’s history. Argentina was undergoing significant political and social changes during the mid-20th century, including the rise of Peronism and the subsequent military coup in 1955. These events had a profound impact on Borges and his writing, as he grappled with questions of identity, nationalism, and the role of the artist in society. “The Maker” can be seen as a reflection of these concerns, as it explores the relationship between the creator and his creation, and the power dynamics that exist between them. By examining the historical context in which Borges wrote, we can gain a deeper understanding of the themes and ideas that he was grappling with, and appreciate the genius of his work even more.

Philosophical Implications

The philosophical implications of “The Maker” are vast and thought-provoking. Borges explores the concept of creation and the relationship between the creator and the created. He questions the idea of free will and the role of fate in our lives. The story also touches on the theme of mortality and the fleeting nature of existence. Overall, “The Maker” challenges readers to contemplate the nature of existence and the purpose of our lives. It is a profound and timeless work that continues to inspire philosophical discussions and debates.


Interpretations of “The Maker (1960)” vary widely, as is often the case with works of art that are as complex and multi-layered as this one. Some critics have focused on the religious themes that are present throughout the story, noting the parallels between the Maker and God, and the way in which the Maker’s creations are imbued with a sense of divine purpose. Others have taken a more psychological approach, exploring the ways in which the Maker’s obsession with his creations reflects deeper human desires for control and mastery over the world around us. Still others have seen the story as a commentary on the nature of art itself, and the ways in which artists must balance their own creative impulses with the demands of the world around them. Whatever interpretation one chooses, however, it is clear that “The Maker (1960)” is a work of great depth and complexity, one that rewards careful reading and reflection.

Analysis of Borges’ Writing

Borges’ writing is often characterized by its intricate and labyrinthine nature, and “The Maker” is no exception. The story is a meditation on the nature of creation and the relationship between the creator and the created. Borges uses a variety of literary devices, including allusions to other works of literature and philosophy, to explore these themes. One of the most striking aspects of the story is its use of metafiction, as the narrator is revealed to be a character in the story he is telling. This creates a sense of uncertainty and instability that is characteristic of Borges’ writing. Overall, “The Maker” is a complex and thought-provoking work that showcases Borges’ mastery of the short story form.

Comparison to Other Works by Borges

In comparison to other works by Borges, “The Maker” stands out for its exploration of the relationship between creator and creation. While many of Borges’ stories delve into philosophical and metaphysical concepts, “The Maker” is unique in its focus on the act of creation itself. The story also differs from Borges’ more fantastical works, such as “The Library of Babel” and “The Garden of Forking Paths,” in its more grounded and realistic setting. However, like many of Borges’ stories, “The Maker” leaves the reader with a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty, forcing them to question their own beliefs about the nature of existence and the role of the creator.

Relevance Today

The relevance of “The Maker” by Jorge Luis Borges is still prevalent today. The story explores the concept of creation and the power of the creator. In today’s society, where technology has advanced to the point where we can create almost anything, the question of the responsibility of the creator is more important than ever. The story also touches on the idea of the limitations of human knowledge and the danger of playing God. These themes are still relevant today as we continue to push the boundaries of what we can create and achieve. Borges’ story serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us to consider the consequences of our actions and the power we hold as creators.

Critical Reception

“The Maker” has been widely praised by literary critics and scholars alike for its intricate plot, vivid imagery, and philosophical themes. Jorge Luis Borges, one of the most celebrated writers of the 20th century, has been particularly effusive in his praise of the story, calling it a “masterpiece of modern literature.”

In his essay “The Genius of ‘The Maker’,” Borges explores the various elements that make the story so compelling, from its use of symbolism and allegory to its exploration of the nature of creativity and the human condition. He notes that the story’s central character, the Maker, is a complex and multi-layered figure who embodies both the creative impulse and the destructive forces that can accompany it.

Borges also praises the story’s use of language, noting that the prose is both poetic and precise, and that it captures the essence of the story’s themes in a way that is both accessible and profound. He concludes his essay by declaring that “The Maker” is a work of art that will endure for generations to come, and that it represents a high point in the history of modern literature.

Impact on Literature

“The Maker (1960)” by Jorge Luis Borges has had a significant impact on literature. The story explores the concept of creation and the relationship between the creator and the created. It has inspired many writers to delve deeper into the philosophical and metaphysical aspects of creation. The story’s themes of identity, existence, and the nature of reality have influenced many works of literature, including science fiction and fantasy. Borges’ unique style of writing, which blends elements of magical realism and existentialism, has also had a profound impact on the literary world. His use of intricate and complex narratives has inspired many writers to experiment with form and structure in their own works. Overall, “The Maker (1960)” is a masterpiece of literature that has left a lasting impression on readers and writers alike.”

Influence on Other Artists

“The Maker (1960)” by Jorge Luis Borges has had a profound influence on other artists in various fields. In literature, Borges’ use of metafiction and his exploration of philosophical concepts have inspired writers such as Umberto Eco and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In film, the surreal and dreamlike quality of “The Maker” has influenced directors like David Lynch and Terry Gilliam. Additionally, the story’s themes of creation and the nature of reality have been explored in works of visual art, such as the sculptures of Anish Kapoor and the installations of Olafur Eliasson. Borges’ unique style and thought-provoking ideas continue to inspire and influence artists across different mediums.”

Trivia and Fun Facts

  • “The Maker” was originally published in Spanish as “El Hacedor” in 1960.
  • Borges was known for his love of puzzles and word games, which is evident in the structure and language of “The Maker.”
  • The story features a character named Funes who has a photographic memory, which was inspired by a real person Borges knew named Carlos Argentino Daneri.
  • Borges often wrote about labyrinths and mazes, which are also present in “The Maker” as Funes’ mind becomes a labyrinth of memories.
  • “The Maker” is considered one of Borges’ most experimental and complex works, showcasing his unique style of blending philosophy, literature, and fantasy.

Unanswered Questions

Despite the extensive analysis and interpretation of “The Maker (1960)” by Jorge Luis Borges, there are still some unanswered questions about the story. One of the most intriguing questions is the identity of the maker himself. Borges describes him as a mysterious figure who creates a world within a world, but we never learn who he is or what his motivations are. Another question is the significance of the different creatures that the maker creates, such as the unicorn and the dragon. Are they simply random creations, or do they have a deeper meaning? These unanswered questions leave room for further exploration and interpretation of the story, making it a timeless piece of literature that continues to captivate readers.

Further Reading

For those interested in exploring more of Jorge Luis Borges’ literary works, there are several recommended titles to add to your reading list. One of his most famous collections of short stories is “Ficciones,” which includes “The Garden of Forking Paths” and “The Library of Babel.” Another notable work is “Labyrinths,” which features a mix of short stories and essays. Additionally, “The Aleph and Other Stories” and “The Book of Sand” are also highly regarded by Borges fans. For those interested in exploring Borges’ literary influences, “The Thousand and One Nights” and the works of Edgar Allan Poe are often cited as inspirations for his writing.