Monday, August 2, 2010

Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge, where have you been all my life? Borges is a writer I've been aware of for decades, but I never read any of his work. I can't tell you why, either. He just never found his way into my hands until this weekend, when I picked up Mighty Reader's copy of Labyrinths. Gosh, I say. This is cool stuff. Like Nabokov but without the contempt. Let's see how I feel after reading the whole thing. I am sad that Borges didn't write any novel-length fiction; his short stories are brilliant.


  1. "Like Nabokov but without the contempt." I am sold. On the library list he goes!

  2. "Borges and I"

    The other one, the one called Borges, is the one things happen to. I walk through the streets of Buenos Aires and stop for a moment, perhaps mechanically now, to look at the arch of an entrance hall and the grillwork on the gate; I know of Borges from the mail and see his name on a list of professors or in a biographical dictionary. I like hourglasses, maps, eighteenth-century typography, the taste of coffee and the prose of Stevenson; he shares these preferences, but in a vain way that turns them into the attributes of an actor. It would be an exaggeration to say that ours is a hostile relationship; I live, let myself go on living, so that Borges may contrive his literature, and this literature justifies me. It is no effort for me to confess that he has achieved some valid pages, but those pages cannot save me, perhaps because what is good belongs to no one, not even to him, but rather to the language and to tradition. Besides, I am destined to perish, definitively, and only some instant of myself can survive in him. Little by little, I am giving over everything to him, though I am quite aware of his perverse custom of falsifying and magnifying things.

    Spinoza knew that all things long to persist in their being; the stone eternally wants to be a stone and the tiger a tiger. I shall remain in Borges, not in myself (if it is true that I am someone), but I recognize myself less in his books than in many others or in the laborious strumming of a guitar. Years ago I tried to free myself from him and went from the mythologies of the suburbs to the games with time and infinity, but those games belong to Borges now and I shall have to imagine other things. Thus my life is a flight and I lose everything and everything belongs to oblivion, or to him.

    I do not know which of us has written this page.

    Which is just, you know, utterly cool.

  3. Okay, onto the list he goes, just like Genie said!

  4. I like this excerpt you posted. I had tried to read him in the past, some collection of short stories, and I didn't get into it.