The House of Asterion
|"The House of Asterion"|
|Author||Jorge Luis Borges|
|Original title||"La casa de Asterión"|
|Genre(s)||Fantasy, short story|
|Published in||Los Anales de Buenos Aires|
|Publication date||May 1947|
"The House of Asterion" (original Spanish title: "La casa de Asterión") is a short story by Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, first published in Los Anales de Buenos Aires in May 1947. It was reprinted in the short-story collection El Aleph in 1949.
The story takes the form of a monologue by Asterion. He begins by suggesting that certain defamatory claims — that he is arrogant, or misanthropic, or mad — are untrue. Asterion describes his house in detail: that it has no locked doors; that it has many corridors and rooms, pools and courtyards. He explains his hermetic ways by recounting how once, when he left his house, the commoners were so agitated that he now does not go out, believing that his royal blood sets him apart (after all, he is the child of a queen). Asterion explains how he spends his days in solitude: running through the corridors; pretending to sleep; and sometimes pretending that "the other Asterion" has come to visit, and giving him a tour of the house.
Asterion goes into detail about the infinitude of his house, comparing it to the universe. He also suggests that perhaps he created the world and has forgotten about it. Finally he makes mention of other people, nine men, who come every nine years "so that I may deliver them from evil", and whose bodies he leaves in the empty rooms to distinguish one from another. Asterion speculates about his own death, and eagerly awaits the coming of his "redeemer", who will take him away from his infinite house.
The story ends with a line from Theseus — "Would you believe it, Ariadne? The Minotaur scarcely defended himself." — revealing with those words to the reader that Asterion is indeed the Cretan Minotaur.
As in many of his stories, Borges looks at a popular story through a different lens, shedding light on other possible interpretations of the events. In the vein of Edgar Allan Poe he starts with the monologue of a socially unusual character and at the end adds an unexpected twist to the story.
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