Kites and Pirates In Argentine Literature

Prof. Maria Elena GarcĂ­a Autino
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The space that Discourse enables for the friends of kites all over the world is especially interesting because it allows us to also talk about our experiences in many different contexts. Trips, work with intercultural groups, workshops with children of isolated rural schools deep in Patagonia…. These topics have been covered — but this time I want to share a very special story about pirates, Argentine kites and literature.

I believe that kites offer a good opportunity to understand and to enjoy other cultures and other ways of seeing the world. Because of this, I would like to talk about the presence of the kite, a magical and wonderful object, in Argentine literature.

Although many references to kites exist in Latin American literature, I decided to select a beautiful example, of very significant authorship: Jorge Luis Borges.

Ching Shih, also known as Cheng I Sao, terrorized the China Sea in the early 19th century. A brilliant Cantonese female pirate, she is thought to have commanded 1,800 ships and more than 80,000 pirates — men, women, and even children. She challenged the world superpower empires of the time such as the British, Portuguese and the Qing dynasty. Undefeated, she would become one of China and Asia’s strongest female pirates, and one of world history’s most powerful female pirates. She was also one of the few pirate captains to retire from piracy.

In “A Universal History of Iniquity”, a collection of short stories, first published in 1935, Jorge Luis Borges, wrote fictionalized accounts of real criminals, such as the widow Ching, also known as “The Luster of True Instruction.”

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