Waiting for Redemption in The House of Asterion: A Stylistic Analysis
Martin Tilney
Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.
DOI: 10.4236/ojml.2012.22007   PDF    HTML     14,210 Downloads   29,769 Views   Citations


The House of Asterion is a short story by Jorge Luis Borges that retells the classical myth of the Cretan Minotaur from an alternate perspective. The House of Asterion features the Minotaur, aka Asterion, who waits for “redemption” in his labyrinth. Many literary critics have suggested that the Borgesian labyrinth is a metaphor for human existence and the universe itself. Others have correctly interpreted Asterion’s ironic death at the hands of Theseus as his eagerly awaited redemption. Borges’ subversion of the reader’s expectations becomes the departure point for a systemic functional stylistic analysis of the story in one of its English translations, revealing how deeper-level meanings in the text are construed through its lexicogrammatical structure. A systemic functional stylistic reading suggests that on a higher level of reality, Asterion’s redemption is not only the freedom that death affords, but also a transformation that transcends his fictional universe. Asterion’s twofold redemption is brought about not only by the archetypal hero Theseus but also by the reader, who through the process of reading enables Asterion’s emancipation from the labyrinth.

Share and Cite:

Tilney, M. (2012) Waiting for Redemption in The House of Asterion: A Stylistic Analysis. Open Journal of Modern Linguistics, 2, 51-56. doi: 10.4236/ojml.2012.22007.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Atsma, A. J. (2011). Theoi Greek mythology. http://www.theoi.com
[2] Bell-Villada, G. (1999). Borges and his fiction: A guide to his mind and art. Texas: University of Texas Press.
[3] Borges, J. L. (1949). The house of Asterion. In J. L. Borges, & A. Hurley (Eds.), Jorge Luis Borges collected fictions (pp. 220-222). New York: Penguin Books.
[4] Butt, D. (1983). Semantic drift in verbal art. Australian Review of Aplied Linguistics, 6, 38-48.
[5] Dauster, F. (1962). Notes on Borges’ labyrinths. Hipanic Review, 30, 142-148. doi:10.2307/472089
[6] Davis, S. (2004). Rereading and rewriting traditions: The case of Borges’ ‘La casa de Asterion’. Romance Studies, 22, 139-148. doi:10.1179/026399004786542942
[7] Frisch, M. (2004). You might be able to get there from here: Reconsidering Borges and the postmodern. Cranbury, NJ: Rosemont Publishing & Printing Corp.
[8] Halliday, M. K., & Webster, J. (2002). Linguistic studies of text and discourse. London: Continuum.
[9] Halliday, M., & Matthiessen, C. (2004). An introduction to functional grammar (3rd ed.). London: Hodder Education.
[10] Hasan, R. (1985). Linguistics, language and verbal art. Geelong: Deakin University Press.
[11] Hassan, I. H. (2001). From postmodernity to postmodernism: The local/global context. Philosophy and Literature, 25, 1-13. doi:10.1353/phl.2001.0011
[12] Lyon, T., & Hangrow, P. (1974). Heresy as motif in the short stories of Borges. Latin American Literary Review, 3, 23-35.
[13] McHale, B. (2001). Postmodernist fiction. New York: Routledge.
[14] Murillo, L. (1959). The labyrinths of Jorge Luis Borges: An introduction to the stories of the Aleph. Modern Language Quarterly, 20, 259-266. doi:10.1215/00267929-20-3-259
[15] Nicol, B. (2009). The Cambridge introduction to postmodern fiction. New York: Cambridge University Press.
[16] Padel, R. (1996). Labyrinth of desire: Cretan myth in us. Arion, 4, 76-87.
[17] Peyronie, A. (1992a). The labyrinth. In P. Brunel (Ed.), Companion to literary myths, heroes and archetypes (pp. 685-719). London: Routledge.
[18] Peyronie, A. (1992b). The minotaur. In P. Brunel (Ed.), Companion to literary myths, heroes, and archetypes (pp. 814-821). London: Routledge.
[19] Rincon, C. (1993). The peripheral centre or postmodernism: On Borges, Garcia Marquez, and alterity. Boundary 2, 20, 162-179. doi:10.2307/303348
[20] Sickels, A. (2004). Biography of Jorge Luis Borges. In H. Bloom (Ed.), Jorge Luis Borges (pp. 5-22). Broomal: Chelsea House Publications.
[21] Sullivan, M. (2002). Argentina’s political upheaval. http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/7955.pdf
[22] Thompson, G. (2004). Introducing functional grammar (2nd ed.). London: Hodder Education.
[23] Weber, F. W. (1968). Borges’ stories: Fiction and philosophy. Hispanic Review, 36, 124-141. doi:10.2307/472042
[24] Zamora, L. P. (1995). The visualizing capacity of magical realism: Objects and expression in the work of Jorge Luis Borges. In L. P. Zamora, & W. B. Faris (Eds.), Magical realism: Theory, history, community (pp. 21-37). Durham: Duke University Press.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.