Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo KBE (/ˈbɔːrhɛs/;
Spanish: [ˈxorxe ˈlwis ˈborxes] audio (help·info);
24 August 1899 – 14 June 1986) was an Argentine short-story writer,
essayist, poet and translator, and a key figure in Spanish-language
literature. His best-known books,
Ficciones (Fictions) and El Aleph
(The Aleph), published in the 1940s, are compilations of short stories
interconnected by common themes, including dreams, labyrinths,
libraries, mirrors, fictional writers, philosophy, and religion.
Borges' works have contributed to philosophical literature and the
fantasy genre. Critic Ángel Flores, the first to use the term magical
realism to define a genre that reacted against the dominant realism
and naturalism of the 19th century, considers the beginning of the
movement to be the release of Borges' A Universal History of Infamy
(Historia universal de la infamia). However, some critics
consider Borges to be a predecessor and not actually a magical
realist. His late poems dialogue with such cultural figures as
Spinoza, Camões, and Virgil.
In 1914, Borges' family moved to Switzerland, where he studied at the
Collège de Genève. The family travelled widely in Europe, including
Spain. On his return to Argentina in 1921, Borges began publishing his
poems and essays in surrealist literary journals. He also worked as a
librarian and public lecturer. In 1955, he was appointed director of
the National Public Library and professor of English Literature at the
University of Buenos Aires. He became completely blind by the age of
55; as he never learned braille, he became unable to read. Scholars
have suggested that his progressive blindness helped him to create
innovative literary symbols through imagination.[Notes 1]
In 1961, he came to international attention when he received the first
Formentor prize (Prix International), which he shared with Samuel
Beckett. In 1971, he won the Jerusalem Prize. His work was translated
and published widely in the United States and Europe. Borges himself
was fluent in several languages. He dedicated his final work, The
Conspirators, to the city of Geneva, Switzerland.
His international reputation was consolidated in the 1960s, aided by
his works being available in English, by the
Latin American Boom
Latin American Boom and
by the success of García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Writer and essayist
J. M. Coetzee
J. M. Coetzee said of him: "He, more than anyone,
renovated the language of fiction and thus opened the way to a
remarkable generation of Spanish American novelists."
1 Life and career
1.1 Early life and education
1.2 Early writing career
1.3 Later career
1.4 International renown
1.5 Later personal life
4 Political opinions
4.4 Military junta
5.1 Hoaxes and forgeries
5.2 Criticism of Borges' work
5.4 Nobel Prize omission
6 Fact, fantasy and non-linearity
6.1 Borgesian conundrum
7 Culture and Argentine literature
Martín Fierro and Argentine tradition
7.2 Argentine culture
7.3 Multicultural influences
8.2 Political influences
12 Further reading
13 External links
Life and career
Early life and education
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo was born into an educated
middle-class family on 24 August 1899. They were in comfortable
circumstances but not wealthy enough to live in downtown Buenos Aires
so the family resided in Palermo, then a poorer suburb. Borges's
mother, Leonor Acevedo Suárez, came from a traditional Uruguayan
family of criollo (Spanish) origin. Her family had been much involved
in the European settling of South America and the Argentine War of
Independence, and she spoke often of their heroic actions.
His 1929 book, Cuaderno San Martín, includes the poem "Isidoro
Acevedo", commemorating his grandfather, Isidoro de Acevedo Laprida, a
soldier of the
Buenos Aires Army. A descendant of the Argentine lawyer
and politician Francisco Narciso de Laprida, de Acevedo Laprida fought
in the battles of Cepeda in 1859, Pavón in 1861, and Los Corrales in
1880. De Acevedo Laprida died of pulmonary congestion in the house
where his grandson
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges was born.
Borges's own father,
Jorge Guillermo Borges Haslam (24 February 1874
– 14 February 1938) was a lawyer, and wrote a novel El caudillo
in 1921. Borges Haslam was born in Entre Rios of Spanish, Portuguese,
and English descent, the son of Francisco Borges Lafinur, a colonel,
and Frances Ann Haslam, an Englishwoman. Borges Haslam grew up
speaking English at home. The family frequently traveled to Europe.
Borges Haslam wed
Leonor Acevedo Suarez
Leonor Acevedo Suarez in 1898 and was also father of
the painter Norah Borges, sister of Jorge Luis Borges.
At age nine,
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges translated Oscar Wilde's The Happy
Prince into Spanish. It was published in a local journal, but Borges'
friends thought the real author was his father. Borges Haslam was
a lawyer and psychology teacher who harboured literary aspirations.
Borges said his father "tried to become a writer and failed in the
attempt", despite the 1921 opus El caudillo.
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges wrote,
"as most of my people had been soldiers and I knew I would never be, I
felt ashamed, quite early, to be a bookish kind of person and not a
man of action."
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges was taught at home until the age of 11, was
bilingual in Spanish and English, reading
Shakespeare in the latter at
the age of twelve. The family lived in a large house with an
English library of over one thousand volumes; Borges would later
remark that "if I were asked to name the chief event in my life, I
should say my father's library."
His father gave up practicing law due to the failing eyesight that
would eventually afflict his son. In 1914, the family moved to Geneva,
Switzerland, and spent the next decade in Europe. Borges Haslam was
treated by a
Geneva eye specialist, while Jorge Luis and his sister
Norah attended school; there Jorge Luis learned French. He read Thomas
Carlyle in English, and he began to read philosophy in German. In
1917, when he was eighteen, he met writer Maurice Abramowicz and began
a literary friendship that would last for the remainder of his
life. He received his baccalauréat from the
Collège de Genève
Collège de Genève in
1918.[Notes 2] The Borges family decided that, due to political
unrest in Argentina, they would remain in
Switzerland during the war.
After World War I, the family spent three years living in various
cities: Lugano, Barcelona, Majorca, Seville, and Madrid. They
remained in Europe until 1921.
At that time, Borges discovered the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer
and Gustav Meyrink's The Golem (1915) which became influential to his
work. In Spain, Borges fell in with and became a member of the
Modernismo Ultraist literary movement, inspired by
Guillaume Apollinaire and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, close to the
Imagists. His first poem, "Hymn to the Sea," written in the style of
Walt Whitman, was published in the magazine Grecia. While in
Spain, he met such noted Spanish writers as
Rafael Cansinos Assens
Rafael Cansinos Assens and
Ramón Gómez de la Serna.
Early writing career
Adolfo Bioy Casares,
Victoria Ocampo and Borges in 1935
In 1921, Borges returned with his family to Buenos Aires. He had
little formal education, no qualifications and few friends. He wrote
to a friend that
Buenos Aires was now "overrun by arrivistes, by
correct youths lacking any mental equipment, and decorative young
ladies". He brought with him the doctrine of
Ultraism and launched
his career, publishing surreal poems and essays in literary journals.
Borges published his first published collection of poetry, Fervor de
Buenos Aires, in 1923 and contributed to the avant-garde review
Borges co-founded the journals Prisma, a broadsheet distributed
largely by pasting copies to walls in Buenos Aires, and Proa. Later in
life, Borges regretted some of these early publications, attempting to
purchase all known copies to ensure their destruction.
By the mid-1930s, he began to explore existential questions and
fiction. He worked in a style that Argentine critic Ana María
Barrenechea has called "Irreality". Many other Latin American writers,
such as Juan Rulfo, Juan José Arreola, and Alejo Carpentier, were
investigating these themes, influenced by the phenomenology of Husserl
and Heidegger, and the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre. In this
vein, his biographer Edwin Williamson underlines the danger in
inferring an autobiographically-inspired basis for the content or tone
of certain of his works: books, philosophy and imagination were as
much a source of real inspiration to him as his own lived experience,
if not more so.
From the first issue, Borges was a regular contributor to Sur, founded
in 1931 by Victoria Ocampo. It was then Argentina's most important
literary journal and helped Borges find his fame. Ocampo
introduced Borges to Adolfo Bioy Casares, another well-known figure of
Argentine literature, who was to become a frequent collaborator and
close friend. They wrote a number of works together, some under the
nom de plume H. Bustos Domecq, including a parody detective series and
fantasy stories. During these years, a family friend, Macedonio
Fernández, became a major influence on Borges. The two would preside
over discussions in cafés, country retreats, or Fernandez's tiny
apartment in the
Balvanera district. He appears by name in Borges's
Dialogue about a Dialogue, in which the two discuss the
immortality of the soul. In 1933, Borges gained an editorial
appointment at Revista Multicolor de los Sábados (the literary
supplement of the
Buenos Aires newspaper Crítica), where he first
published the pieces collected as Historia universal de la infamia (A
Universal History of Infamy) in 1935.
The book includes two types of writing: the first lies somewhere
between non-fictional essays and short stories, using fictional
techniques to tell essentially true stories. The second consists of
literary forgeries, which Borges initially passed off as translations
of passages from famous but seldom-read works. In the following years,
he served as a literary adviser for the publishing house Emecé
Editores, and from 1936-39 wrote weekly columns for El Hogar. In 1938,
Borges found work as first assistant at the Miguel Cané Municipal
Library. It was in a working class area and there were so few
books that cataloguing more than one hundred books per day, he was
told, would leave little to do for the other staff and so look bad.
The task took him about an hour each day and the rest of his time he
spent in the basement of the library, writing and translating.
Borges in the 1940s
Borges's father died in 1938, shortly before his 64th birthday. On
Christmas Eve that year, Borges suffered a severe head injury; during
treatment, he nearly died of septicemia. While recovering from the
accident, Borges began playing with a new style of writing for which
he would become famous. His first story written after his accident,
"Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote", came out in May 1939. One of
his most famous works, "Menard", examines the nature of authorship, as
well as the relationship between an author and his historical context.
His first collection of short stories, El jardín de senderos que se
bifurcan (The Garden of Forking Paths), appeared in 1941, composed
mostly of works previously published in Sur.
The title story concerns a Chinese professor in England, Dr. Yu Tsun,
who spies for Germany during World War I, in an attempt to prove to
the authorities that an Asian person is able to obtain the information
that they seek. A combination of book and maze, it can be read in many
ways. Through it, Borges arguably invented the hypertext novel and
went on to describe a theory of the universe based upon the structure
of such a novel.
Eight stories taking up over sixty pages, the book was generally well
received, but El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan failed to garner
for him the literary prizes many in his circle expected.
Victoria Ocampo dedicated a large portion of the July 1942 issue of
Sur to a "Reparation for Borges". Numerous leading writers and critics
from Argentina and throughout the Spanish-speaking world contributed
writings to the "reparation" project.
With his vision beginning to fade in his early thirties and unable to
support himself as a writer, Borges began a new career as a public
lecturer.[Notes 3] He became an increasingly public figure,
obtaining appointments as President of the Argentine Society of
Writers and as Professor of English and American Literature at the
Argentine Association of English Culture. His short story "Emma Zunz"
was made into a film (under the name of Días de odio, Days of Hate,
directed in 1954 by Leopoldo Torre Nilsson). Around this time,
Borges also began writing screenplays.
In 1955, he was nominated to the directorship of the National Library.
By the late 1950s, he had become completely blind. Neither the
coincidence nor the irony of his blindness as a writer escaped
Nadie rebaje a lágrima o reproche
esta declaración de la maestría
de Dios, que con magnífica ironía
me dio a la vez los libros y la noche.
No one should read self-pity or reproach
Into this statement of the majesty
Of God; who with such splendid irony,
Granted me books and night at one touch.
His later collection of poetry, Elogio de la Sombra (In Praise of
Darkness), develops this theme. In 1956 the University of Cuyo
awarded Borges the first of many honorary doctorates and the following
year he received the National Prize for Literature . From 1956 to
1970, Borges also held a position as a professor of literature at the
Buenos Aires and other temporary appointments at other
universities. In the fall of 1967 and spring of 1968, he delivered
Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University.
As his eyesight deteriorated, Borges relied increasingly on his
mother's help. When he was not able to read and write anymore (he
never learned to read Braille), his mother, to whom he had always been
close, became his personal secretary. When Perón returned from
exile and was re-elected president in 1973, Borges immediately
resigned as director of the National Library.
Eight of Borges's poems appear in the 1943 anthology of Spanish
American Poets by H.R. Hays.[Notes 4] "The Garden of Forking
Paths", one of the first Borges stories to be translated into English,
appeared in the August 1948 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine,
translated by Anthony Boucher. Though several other Borges
translations appeared in literary magazines and anthologies during the
1950s (and one story appeared in the science fiction magazine
Fantastic Universe in 1960), his international fame dates from the
In 1961, Borges received the first Prix International, which he shared
with Samuel Beckett. While Beckett had garnered a distinguished
reputation in Europe and America, Borges had been largely unknown and
untranslated in the English-speaking world and the prize stirred great
interest in his work. The Italian government named Borges Commendatore
University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Austin appointed him for one year to
the Tinker Chair. This led to his first lecture tour in the United
States. In 1962, two major anthologies of Borges's writings were
published in English by New York presses:
Ficciones and Labyrinths. In
that year, Borges began lecture tours of Europe. Numerous honors were
to accumulate over the years such as a
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe Award
Mystery Writers of America "for distinguished contribution to
the mystery genre" (1976), the
Balzan Prize (for Philology,
Linguistics and literary Criticism) and the Prix mondial Cino Del
Cervantes Prize (all 1980), as well as the French Legion of
Honour (1983) and the Diamond
Konex Award for Literature Arts as the
most important writer in the last decade in his country.
At L'Hôtel, Paris, 1968
In 1967, Borges began a five-year period of collaboration with the
American translator Norman Thomas di Giovanni, through whom he became
better known in the English-speaking world. He
continued to publish books, among them El libro de los seres
imaginarios (Book of Imaginary Beings, 1967, co-written with Margarita
Guerrero), El informe de Brodie (Dr. Brodie's Report, 1970), and El
libro de arena (The Book of Sand, 1975). He lectured prolifically.
Many of these lectures were anthologized in volumes such as Siete
noches (Seven Nights) and Nueve ensayos dantescos (Nine Dantesque
His presence in 1967 on campus at the University of Virginia,
Charlottesville influenced a group of students among whom was Jared
Loewenstein, who would later become founder and curator of the Jorge
Luis Borges Collection at UVA, one of the largest repositories of
documents and manuscripts pertaining to the early works of JLB. In
1984, he travelled to Athens, Greece and later to Rethymnon, Crete
where he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the School of
Philosophy at University of Crete.
Later personal life
María Kodama at the 2010 Frankfurt Book Fair
In 1967, Borges married the recently widowed Elsa Astete Millán.
Friends believed that his mother, who was 90 and anticipating her own
death, wanted to find someone to care for her blind son. The marriage
lasted less than three years. After a legal separation, Borges moved
back in with his mother, with whom he lived until her death at age
99. Thereafter, he lived alone in the small flat he had shared
with her, cared for by Fanny, their housekeeper of many decades.
From 1975 until the time of his death, Borges traveled
internationally. He was often accompanied in these travels by his
personal assistant María Kodama, an Argentine woman of Japanese and
German ancestry. In April 1986, a few months before his death, he
married her via an attorney in Paraguay, in what was then a common
Argentines wishing to circumvent the Argentine laws of
the time regarding divorce. On his religious views, Borges declared
himself an agnostic, clarifying: "Being an agnostic means all things
are possible, even God, even the Holy Trinity. This world is so
strange that anything may happen, or may not happen."
Borges' grave, Cimetière des Rois, Plainpalais, Geneva.
During his final days in Geneva, Borges began brooding about the
possibility of an afterlife. Although calm and collected about his own
death, Borges began probing Kodama as to whether she inclined more
Shinto beliefs of her father or the
Catholicism of her
mother. Kodama "had always regarded Borges as an Agnostic, as she was
herself", but given the insistence of his questioning, she offered to
call someone more "qualified". Borges responded, "You are asking
me if I want a priest." He then instructed her to call two clergymen,
a Catholic priest, in memory of his mother, and a Protestant minister,
in memory of his English grandmother. He was visited first by Father
Pierre Jacquet and by Pastor Edouard de Montmollin.
Borges died of liver cancer on 14 June 1986, aged 86, in Geneva. His
burial was preceded by an ecumenical service at the Protestant
Cathédrale de Saint Pierre on 18 June. With many Swiss and Argentine
dignitaries present, Pastor de Montmollin read the First Chapter of St
John's Gospel. He then preached that "Borges was a man who had
unceasingly searched for the right word, the term that could sum up
the whole, the final meaning of things." He explained, however, that
no man can reach that word through his own efforts and in trying
becomes lost in a labyrinth. Pastor de Montmollin concluded, "It is
not man who discovers the word, it is the Word that comes to him."
Father Jacquet also preached, saying that, when visiting Borges before
his death, he had found "a man full of love, who received from the
Church the forgiveness of his sins". After the funeral, Borges
was laid to rest in Geneva's Cimetière de Plainpalais. His grave,
marked by a rough-hewn headstone, is adorned with carvings derived
from Anglo-Saxon and
Old Norse art and literature.
Kodama, his widow and heir on the basis of the marriage and two wills,
gained control over his works. Her assertive administration of his
estate resulted in a bitter dispute with the French publisher
Gallimard regarding the republication of the complete works of Borges
in French, with
Pierre Assouline in
Le Nouvel Observateur
Le Nouvel Observateur (August
2006) calling her "an obstacle to the dissemination of the works of
Borges". Kodama took legal action against Assouline, considering the
remark unjustified and defamatory, asking for a symbolic compensation
of one euro.
Kodama also rescinded all publishing rights for existing collections
of his work in English, including the translations by Norman Thomas di
Giovanni, in which Borges himself collaborated, and from which di
Giovanni would have received an unusually high fifty percent of the
royalties. Kodama commissioned new translations by Andrew Hurley,
which have become the standard translations in English.
During a 1971 conference at Columbia University, a creative writing
student asked Borges what he regarded as "a writer's duty to his
time". Borges replied, "I think a writer's duty is to be a writer, and
if he can be a good writer, he is doing his duty. Besides, I think of
my own opinions as being superficial. For example, I am a
Conservative, I hate the Communists, I hate the Nazis, I hate the
anti-Semites, and so on; but I don't allow these opinions to find
their way into my writings—except, of course, when I was greatly
elated about the Six Days' War. Generally speaking, I think of keeping
them in watertight compartments. Everybody knows my opinions, but as
for my dreams and my stories, they should be allowed their full
freedom, I think. I don't want to intrude into them, I'm writing
fiction, not fables."
Borges and Argentine writer Ernesto Sabato.
In an interview with Richard Burgin during the late 1960s, Borges
described himself as a "mild" adherent of classical liberalism. He
further recalled that his opposition to
Marxism and communism was
absorbed in his childhood. "Well, I have been brought up to think that
the individual should be strong and the State should be weak. I
couldn't be enthusiastic about theories where the State is more
important than the individual." After the overthrow via coup
d'état of President
Juan Domingo Perón
Juan Domingo Perón in 1955, Borges supported
efforts to purge Argentina's Government of Peronists and dismantle the
former President's welfare state. He was enraged that the Communist
Party of Argentina opposed these measures and sharply criticized them
in lectures and in print. Borges's opposition to the Party in this
matter ultimately led to a permanent rift with his longtime lover,
Argentine Communist Estela Canto.
In a 1956 interview given to El Hogar, "[Communists] are in favor of
totalitarian regimes and systematically combat freedom of thought,
oblivious of the fact that the principal victims of dictatorships are,
precisely, intelligence and culture."
He elaborated, "Many people are in favor of dictatorships because they
allow them to avoid thinking for themselves. Everything is presented
to them ready-made. There are even agencies of the State that supply
them with opinions, passwords, slogans, and even idols to exalt or
cast down according to the prevailing wind or in keeping with the
directives of the thinking heads of the single party."
In later years, Borges frequently expressed contempt for Marxist and
Communist authors, poets, and intellectuals. In an interview with
Burgin, Borges referred to Chilean poet
Pablo Neruda as "a very fine
poet" but a "very mean man" for unconditionally supporting the Soviet
Union and demonizing the United States. Borges commented about Neruda,
"Now he knows that's rubbish."
In the same interview, Borges also criticized famed Marxist poet and
playwright Federico Garcia Lorca, who was abducted by Nationalist
soldiers and executed without trial during the Spanish Civil War. In
Borges' opinion, Lorca's poetry and plays, when examined against his
tragic death, appeared better than they actually were.
In 1934, Argentine ultra-nationalists, sympathetic to
Adolf Hitler and
the Nazi Party, asserted Borges was secretly Jewish, and by
implication, not a true Argentine. Borges responded with the essay
"Yo, Judío" ("I, a Jew"), a reference to the old "Yo, Argentino" ("I,
an Argentine"), a defensive phrase used during pogroms of Argentine
Jews to make it clear to attackers that an intended victim was not
Jewish. In the essay he says that he would be proud to be a Jew,
with a backhanded reminder that any pure Castilian might be likely to
have Jewish ancestry from a millennium ago.
Both before and during the Second World War, Borges regularly
published essays attacking the Nazi police state and its racist
ideology. His outrage was fueled by his deep love for German
literature. In an essay published in 1937, Borges attacked the Nazi
Party's use of children's books to inflame antisemitism. He wrote, "I
don't know if the world can do without German civilization, but I do
know that its corruption by the teachings of hatred is a crime."
In a 1938 essay, Borges reviewed an anthology which rewrote German
authors of the past to fit the Nazi party line. He was disgusted by
what he described as Germany's "chaotic descent into darkness" and the
attendant rewriting of history. He argued that such books sacrificed
the German people's culture, history and integrity in the name of
restoring their national honour. Such use of children's books for
propaganda he writes, "perfect the criminal arts of barbarians."
In a 1944 essay, Borges postulated,
Nazism suffers from unreality, like Erigena's hell. It is
uninhabitable; men can only die for it, lie for it, wound and kill for
it. No one, in the intimate depths of his being, can wish it to
triumph. I shall risk this conjecture: Hitler wants to be defeated.
Hitler is blindly collaborating with the inevitable armies that will
annihilate him, as the metal vultures and the dragon (which must have
known that they were monsters) collaborated, mysteriously, with
In 1946, Borges published the short story "Deutsches Requiem", which
masquerades as the last testament of a condemned Nazi war criminal
named Otto Dietrich zur Linde.
In a 1971 conference at Columbia University, Borges was asked about
the story by a student from the creative writing program. He recalled,
"When the Germans were defeated I felt great joy and relief, but at
the same time I thought of the German defeat as being somehow tragic,
because here we have perhaps the most educated people in Europe, who
have a fine literature, a fine tradition of philosophy and poetry. Yet
these people were bamboozled by a madman named Adolf Hitler, and I
think there is tragedy there."
In a 1967 interview with Burgin, Borges recalled how his interactions
with Argentina's Nazi sympathisers led him to create the story. He
recalled, "And then I realized that those people that were on the side
of Germany, that they never thought of German victories or the German
glory. What they really liked was the idea of the Blitzkrieg, of
London being on fire, of the country being destroyed. As to the German
fighters, they took no stock in them. Then I thought, well now Germany
has lost, now America has saved us from this nightmare, but since
nobody can doubt on which side I stood, I'll see what can be done from
a literary point of view in favor of the Nazis. And then I created the
Columbia University in 1971, Borges further elaborated on the
story's creation, "I tried to imagine what a real Nazi might be like.
I mean someone who thought of violence as being praiseworthy for its
own sake. Then I thought that this archetype of the Nazis wouldn't
mind being defeated; after all, defeats and victories are mere matters
of chance. He would still be glad of the fact, even if the Americans
and British won the war. Naturally, when I am with Nazis, I find they
are not my idea of what a Nazi is, but this wasn't meant to be a
political tract. It was meant to stand for the fact that there was
something tragic in the fate of a real Nazi. Except that I wonder if a
real Nazi ever existed. At least, when I went to Germany, I never met
one. They were all feeling sorry for themselves and wanted me to feel
sorry for them as well."
In 1946, Argentine President
Juan Perón began transforming Argentina
into a one-party state with the assistance of his wife, Evita. Almost
immediately, the spoils system was the rule of the day, as ideological
critics of the ruling
Partido Justicialista were fired from government
jobs. During this period, Borges was informed that he was being
"promoted" from his position at the Miguel Cané Library to a post as
inspector of poultry and rabbits at the
Buenos Aires municipal market.
Upon demanding to know the reason, Borges was told, "Well, you were on
the side of the Allies, what do you expect?" Borges resigned the
Perón's treatment of Borges became a cause célèbre for the
Argentine intelligentsia. The Argentine Society of Writers (SADE) held
a formal dinner in his honour. At the dinner, a speech was read which
Borges had written for the occasion. It said:
Dictatorships breed oppression, dictatorships breed servility,
dictatorships breed cruelty; more loathsome still is the fact that
they breed idiocy. Bellboys babbling orders, portraits of caudillos,
prearranged cheers or insults, walls covered with names, unanimous
ceremonies, mere discipline usurping the place of clear
thinking ... Fighting these sad monotonies is one of the duties
of a writer. Need I remind readers of
Martín Fierro or Don Segundo
that individualism is an old Argentine virtue.
In the aftermath, Borges found himself much in demand as a lecturer
and one of the intellectual leaders of the Argentine opposition. In
1951 he was asked by anti-Peronist friends to run for president of
SADE. Borges, then suffering from depression caused by a failed
romance, reluctantly accepted. He later recalled that he would awake
every morning and remember that Perón was President and feel deeply
depressed and ashamed. Perón's government had seized control of
the Argentine mass media and regarded SADE with indifference. Borges
later recalled, however, "Many distinguished men of letters did not
dare set foot inside its doors." Meanwhile, SADE became an
increasing refuge for critics of the regime. SADE official Luisa
Mercedes Levinson noted, "We would gather every week to tell the
latest jokes about the ruling couple and even dared to sing the songs
of the French Resistance, as well as 'La Marseillaise'".
After Evita Perón's death on 26 July 1952, Borges received a visit
from two policemen, who ordered him to put up two portraits of the
ruling couple on the premises of SADE. Borges indignantly refused,
calling it a ridiculous demand. The policemen replied that he would
soon face the consequences. The Justicialist Party placed Borges
under 24-hour surveillance and sent policemen to sit in on his
lectures; in September they ordered SADE to be permanently closed
down. Like much of the Argentine opposition to Perón, SADE had become
marginalized due to persecution by the State, and very few active
members remained.
According to Edwin Williamson,
Borges had agreed to stand for the presidency of the SADE in order
[to] fight for intellectual freedom, but he also wanted to avenge the
humiliation he believed he had suffered in 1946, when the Peronists
had proposed to make him an inspector of chickens. In his letter of
1950 to Attilio Rossi, he claimed that his infamous promotion had been
a clever way the Peronists had found of damaging him and diminishing
his reputation. The closure of the SADE meant that the Peronists had
damaged him a second time, as was borne out by the visit of the
Spanish writer Julián Marías, who arrived in
Buenos Aires shortly
after the closure of the SADE. It was impossible for Borges, as
president, to hold the usual reception for the distinguished visitor;
instead, one of Borges' friends brought a lamb from his ranch, and
they had it roasted at a tavern across the road from the SADE building
on Calle Mexico. After dinner, a friendly janitor let them into the
premises, and they showed Marías around by candlelight. That tiny
group of writers leading a foreign guest through a dark building by
the light of guttering candles was vivid proof of the extent to which
the SADE had been diminished under the rule of Juan Perón.
On 16 September 1955, General Pedro Eugenio Aramburu's Revolución
Libertadora toppled the ruling party and forced Perón into exile.
Borges was overjoyed and joined demonstrators marching through the
streets of Buenos Aires. According to Williamson, Borges shouted,
"Viva la Patria", until his voice grew hoarse. Due to the influence of
Borges' mother and his own role on the opposition to Peron, the
provisional government appointed Borges as the Director of the
In his essay L'Illusion Comique, Borges wrote there were two histories
of Peronism in Argentina. The first he described as "the criminal
one", composed of the police state tactics used against both real and
imagined anti-Peronists. The second history was, according to Borges,
"the theatrical one" composed of "tales and fables made for
consumption by dolts." He argued that, despite their claims to detest
capitalism, Juan and
Eva Perón "copied its methods, dictating names
and slogans to the people" in the same way that multi-national
corporations "impose their razor blades, cigarettes, and washing
machines." Borges then listed the numerous conspiracy theories the
ruling couple dictated to their followers and how those theories were
accepted without question.
It is useless to list the examples; one can only denounce the
duplicity of the fictions of the former regime, which can't be
believed and were believed. It will be said that the public's lack of
sophistication is enough to explain the contradiction; I believe that
the cause is more profound. Coleridge spoke of the "willing suspension
of disbelief," that is, poetic faith;
Samuel Johnson said, in defense
of Shakespeare, that the spectators at a tragedy do not believe they
Alexandria in the first act and Rome in the second but submit
to the pleasure of a fiction. Similarly, the lies of a dictatorship
are neither believed nor disbelieved; they pertain to an intermediate
plane, and their purpose is to conceal or justify sordid or atrocious
realities. They pertain to the pathetic or the clumsily sentimental.
Happily, for the enlightenment and security of the Argentines, the
current regime has understood that the function of government is not
to inspire pathos.
In a 1967 interview, Borges said, "Perón was a humbug, and he knew
it, and everybody knew it. But Perón could be very cruel. I mean, he
had people tortured, killed. And his wife was a common
When Perón returned from exile in 1973 and regained the Presidency,
Borges was enraged. In a 1975 interview for National Geographic, he
said "Damn, the snobs are back in the saddle. If their posters and
slogans again defile the city, I'll be glad I've lost my sight. Well,
they can't humiliate me as they did before my books sold well."
After being accused of being unforgiving, Borges quipped, "I resented
Perón's making Argentina look ridiculous to the world ... as in
1951, when he announced control over thermonuclear fusion, which still
hasn't happened anywhere but in the sun and the stars. For a time,
Argentines hesitated to wear band aids for fear friends would ask,
'Did the atomic bomb go off in your hand?' A shame, because Argentina
really has world-class scientists."
After Borges' death in 1986, the Peronist Partido Justicialista
declined to send a delegate to the writer's memorial service in Buenos
Aires. A spokesman for the Party said that this was in reaction to
"certain declarations he had made about the country." Later, at
the City Council of Buenos Aires, Peronist politicians refused to
honor Borges as an Argentine, commenting that he "chose to die
abroad." When infuriated politicians from the other parties demanded
to know the real reason, the Peronists finally explained that Borges
had made statements about Evita Perón which they called
During the 1970s, Borges at first expressed support for Argentina's
military junta, but was scandalized by the junta's actions during the
Dirty War. In protest against their support of the regime, Borges
ceased publishing in the newspaper La Nación.
In 1985, he wrote a short poem about the
Falklands War called Juan
López y John Ward, about two fictional soldiers (one from each side),
who died in the Falklands, in which he refers to "islands that were
too famous". He also said about the war: "The Falklands thing was a
fight between two bald men over a comb."
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges bibliography
Borges, in 1976.
Wardrip-Fruin and Montfort argue that Borges "may have been the most
important figure in Spanish-language literature since Cervantes. He
was clearly of tremendous influence, writing intricate poems, short
stories, and essays that instantiated concepts of dizzying power."
In addition to short stories for which he is most noted, Borges also
wrote poetry, essays, screenplays, literary criticism, and edited
numerous anthologies. His longest work of fiction is a fourteen-page
story, "The Congress", first published in 1971. His late-onset
blindness strongly influenced his later writing. Borges wrote: "When I
think of what I've lost, I ask, 'Who know themselves better than the
blind?' – for every thought becomes a tool."
Paramount among his intellectual interests are elements of mythology,
mathematics, theology, integrating these through literature, sometimes
playfully, sometimes with great seriousness.
Borges composed poetry throughout his life. As his eyesight waned (it
came and went, with a struggle between advancing age and advances in
eye surgery), he increasingly focused on writing poetry, since he
could memorize an entire work in progress.
His poems embrace the same wide range of interests as his fiction,
along with issues that emerge in his critical works and translations,
and from more personal musings. For example, his interest in idealism
runs through his work, reflected in the fictional world of Tlön in
"Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" and in his essay "A New Refutation of
Time". It also appears as a theme in "On Exactitude in Science"
and in his poems "Things" and "El Golem" ("The Golem") and his story
"The Circular Ruins".
Borges was a notable translator. He translated works of literature in
English, French, German, Old English, and
Old Norse into Spanish. His
first publication, for a
Buenos Aires newspaper, was a translation of
Oscar Wilde's story "The Happy Prince" into Spanish when he was
nine. At the end of his life he produced a Spanish-language
version of a part of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda. He also translated
(while simultaneously subtly transforming) the works of, among others,
Ambrose Bierce, William Faulkner, André Gide, Hermann Hesse, Franz
Kafka, Rudyard Kipling, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, and Virginia
Woolf.[Notes 5] Borges wrote and lectured extensively on the art of
translation, holding that a translation may improve upon the original,
may even be unfaithful to it, and that alternative and potentially
contradictory renderings of the same work can be equally valid.
Borges employed the devices of literary forgery and the review of an
imaginary work, both forms of modern pseudo-epigrapha.
Hoaxes and forgeries
Borges's best-known set of literary forgeries date from his early work
as a translator and literary critic with a regular column in the
Argentine magazine El Hogar. Along with publishing numerous legitimate
translations, he also published original works, for example, in the
style of Emanuel Swedenborg[Notes 6] or One Thousand and One Nights,
originally claiming them to be translations of works he had chanced
upon. In another case, he added three short, falsely attributed pieces
into his otherwise legitimate and carefully researched anthology El
matrero.[Notes 6] Several of these are gathered in the A Universal
History of Infamy.
While Borges was the great popularizer of the review of an imaginary
work, he had developed the idea from Thomas Carlyle's Sartor Resartus,
a book-length review of a non-existent German transcendentalist work,
and the biography of its equally non-existent author. In This Craft of
Verse, Borges says that in 1916 in
Geneva "[I] discovered, and was
overwhelmed by, Thomas Carlyle. I read Sartor Resartus, and I can
recall many of its pages; I know them by heart."
In the introduction to his first published volume of fiction, The
Garden of Forking Paths, Borges remarks, "It is a laborious madness
and an impoverishing one, the madness of composing vast books, setting
out in five hundred pages an idea that can be perfectly related orally
in five minutes. The better way to go about it is to pretend that
those books already exist, and offer a summary, a commentary on them."
He then cites both
Sartor Resartus and Samuel Butler's The Fair Haven,
remarking, however, that "those works suffer under the imperfection
that they themselves are books, and not a whit less tautological than
the others. A more reasonable, more inept, and more lazy man, I have
chosen to write notes on imaginary books."
On the other hand, Borges was wrongly attributed some works, like the
Criticism of Borges' work
Monument in Santiago de Chile
Borges's change in style from regionalist criollismo to a more
cosmopolitan style brought him much criticism from journals such as
Contorno, a leftist, Sartre-influenced Argentine publication founded
David Viñas and his brother, along with other intellectuals such
Noé Jitrik and Adolfo Prieto. In the post-Peronist Argentina of
the early 1960s,
Contorno met with wide approval from the youth who
challenged the authenticity of older writers such as Borges and
questioned their legacy of experimentation.
Magic realism and
exploration of universal truths, they argued, had come at the cost of
responsibility and seriousness in the face of society's problems.
Contorno writers acknowledged Borges and
Eduardo Mallea for being
"doctors of technique" but argued that their work lacked substance due
to their lack of interaction with the reality that they inhabited, an
existentialist critique of their refusal to embrace existence and
reality in their artwork.
The story "The Sect of the Phoenix" is famously interpreted to allude
to the ubiquity of sexual intercourse among humans – a concept
whose essential qualities the narrator of the story is not able to
relate to. With a few notable exceptions, women are almost entirely
absent from the majority of Borges' fictional output.
However, there are some instances in Borges' later writings of
romantic love, for example the story "Ulrikke" from The Book of Sand.
The protagonist of the story "El muerto" also lusts after the
"splendid, contemptuous, red-haired woman" of Azevedo Bandeira and
later "sleeps with the woman with shining hair". Although they do
not appear in the stories, women are significantly discussed as
objects of unrequited love in his short stories "The Zahir" and "The
Aleph".[page needed] The plot of La Intrusa was based on a
true story of two friends. Borges turned their fictional counterparts
into brothers, excluding the possibility of a homosexual
Nobel Prize omission
Borges was never awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, something
which continually distressed the writer. He was one of several
distinguished authors who never received the honour. Borges
commented, "Not granting me the Nobel Prize has become a Scandinavian
tradition; since I was born they have not been granting it to me."
Some observers speculated that Borges did not receive the award in his
later life because of his conservative political views, or, more
specifically, because he had accepted an honour from Chilean dictator
Borges was nominated in 1967, and was among the final three choices
considered by the committee, according to Nobel records unsealed on
the 50th anniversary, in 2017. The committee considered Borges, Graham
Greene and Miguel Ángel Asturias, with the later the chosen
Fact, fantasy and non-linearity
Monument in Lisbon
Many of Borges's best-known stories deal with themes of time ("The
Secret Miracle"), infinity ("The Aleph"), mirrors ("Tlön, Uqbar,
Orbis Tertius") and labyrinths ("The Two Kings and the Two
Labyrinths", "The House of Asterion", "The Immortal", "The Garden of
Forking Paths"). Williamson writes, "His basic contention was that
fiction did not depend on the illusion of reality; what mattered
ultimately was an author's ability to generate "poetic faith" in his
His stories often have fantastical themes, such as a library
containing every possible 410-page text ("The Library of Babel"), a
man who forgets nothing he experiences ("Funes, the Memorious"), an
artifact through which the user can see everything in the universe
("The Aleph"), and a year of still time given to a man standing before
a firing squad ("The Secret Miracle"). Borges told realistic stories
of South American life, of folk heroes, streetfighters, soldiers,
gauchos, detectives, and historical figures. He mixed the real and the
fantastic, fact with fiction. His interest in compounding fantasy,
philosophy, and the art of translation are evident in articles such as
"The Translators of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights". In the
Book of Imaginary Beings, a thoroughly researched bestiary of mythical
creatures, Borges wrote, "There is a kind of lazy pleasure in useless
and out-of-the-way erudition." Borges's interest in fantasy was
shared by Bioy Casares, with whom he coauthored several collections of
tales between 1942 and 1967.
Often, especially early in his career, the mixture of fact and fantasy
crossed the line into the realm of hoax or literary forgery.[Notes 6]
"The Garden of Forking Paths" (1941) presents the idea of forking
paths through networks of time, none of which is the same, all of
which are equal. Borges uses the recurring image of "a labyrinth that
folds back upon itself in infinite regression" so we "become aware of
all the possible choices we might make." The forking paths have
branches to represent these choices that ultimately lead to different
endings. Borges saw man's search for meaning in a seemingly infinite
universe as fruitless and instead uses the maze as a riddle for time,
not space. He examined the themes of universal randomness ("The
Lottery in Babylon") and madness ("The Zahir"). Due to the success of
the "Forking Paths" story, the term "Borgesian" came to reflect a
quality of narrative non-linearity.[Notes 7]
The philosophical term "Borgesian conundrum" is named after him and
has been defined as the ontological question of "whether the writer
writes the story, or it writes him." The original concept put
forward by Borges is in Kafka and His Precursors. After reviewing
works that were written before those of Kafka, Borges wrote:
If I am not mistaken, the heterogeneous pieces I have enumerated
resemble Kafka; if I am not mistaken, not all of them resemble each
other. The second fact is the more significant. In each of these texts
we find Kafka's idiosyncrasy to a greater or lesser degree, but if
Kafka had never written a line, we would not perceive this quality; in
other words, it would not exist. The poem "Fears and Scruples" by
Browning foretells Kafka's work, but our reading of Kafka perceptibly
sharpens and deflects our reading of the poem. Browning did not read
it as we do now. In the critics' vocabulary, the word 'precursor' is
indispensable, but it should be cleansed of all connotation of
polemics or rivalry. The fact is that every writer creates his own
precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will
modify the future."
Culture and Argentine literature
Martín Fierro and Argentine tradition
Main article: Borges on Martín Fierro
Borges in 1976
Along with other young Argentine writers of his generation, Borges
initially rallied around the fictional character of Martín Fierro.
Martín Fierro, a poem by José Hernández, was a dominant work of
19th century Argentine literature.Its eponymous hero became a symbol
of Argentine sensibility, untied from European values – a gaucho,
free, poor, pampas-dwelling.
The character Fierro is illegally drafted to serve at a border fort to
defend it against the indigenous population but ultimately deserts to
become a gaucho matrero, the Argentine equivalent of a North American
western outlaw. Borges contributed keenly to the avant garde Martín
Fierro magazine in the early 1920s.
As Borges matured, he came to a more nuanced attitude toward the
Hernández poem. In his book of essays on the poem, Borges separates
his admiration for the aesthetic virtues of the work from his mixed
opinion of the moral virtues of its protagonist. In his essay
"The Argentine Writer and Tradition" (1951), Borges celebrates how
Hernández expresses the Argentine character. In a key scene in the
Martín Fierro and El Moreno compete by improvising songs on
universal themes such as time, night, and the sea, reflecting the
real-world gaucho tradition of payadas, improvised musical dialogues
on philosophical themes. Borges points out that Hernández
evidently knew the difference between actual gaucho tradition of
composing poetry versus the "gauchesque" fashion among Buenos Aires
In his works he refutes the arch-nationalist interpreters of the poem
and disdains others, such as critic Eleuterio Tiscornia, for their
Europeanising approach. Borges denies that
Argentine literature should
distinguish itself by limiting itself to "local colour", which he
equates with cultural nationalism. Racine and Shakespeare's work,
he says, looked beyond their countries' borders. Neither, he argues,
need the literature be bound to the heritage of old world Spanish or
European tradition. Nor should it define itself by the conscious
rejection of its colonial past. He asserts that Argentine writers need
to be free to define
Argentine literature anew, writing about
Argentina and the world from the point of view of those who have
inherited the whole of world literature. Williamson says
"Borges's main argument is that the very fact of writing from the
margins provides Argentine writers with a special opportunity to
innovate without being bound to the canons of the centre, ... at
once a part of and apart from the centre, which gives them much
Borges focused on universal themes, but also composed a substantial
body of literature on themes from Argentine folklore and history. His
first book, the poetry collection Fervor de
Buenos Aires (Passion for
Buenos Aires), appeared in 1923. Borges's writings on things
Argentine, include Argentine culture ("History of the Tango";
"Inscriptions on Horse Wagons"), folklore ("Juan Muraña", "Night of
the Gifts"), literature ("The Argentine Writer and Tradition",
"Almafuerte"; "Evaristo Carriego"), and national concerns
("Celebration of the Monster", "Hurry, Hurry", "The Mountebank",
"Pedro Salvadores"). Ultranationalists, however, continued to question
his Argentine identity.
Borges's interest in Argentine themes reflects, in part, the
inspiration of his family tree. Borges had an English paternal
grandmother who, around 1870, married the criollo Francisco Borges, a
man with a military command and a historic role in the Argentine Civil
Wars in what is now Argentina and Uruguay.
Spurred by pride in his family's heritage, Borges often used those
civil wars as settings in fiction and quasi-fiction (for example, "The
Life of Tadeo Isidoro Cruz," "The Dead Man," "Avelino Arredondo") as
well as poetry ("General Quiroga Rides to His Death in a Carriage").
Borges's maternal great-grandfather, Manuel Isidoro Suárez, was
another military hero, whom Borges immortalized in the poem "A Page to
Commemorate Colonel Suárez, Victor at Junín".
His non-fiction explores many of the themes found in his fiction.
Essays such as "The History of the Tango" or his writings on the epic
poem "Martín Fierro" explore Argentine themes, such as the identity
of the Argentine people and of various Argentine subcultures. The
varying genealogies of characters, settings, and themes in his
stories, such as "La muerte y la brújula", used Argentine models
without pandering to his readers or framing Argentine culture as
In fact, contrary to what is usually supposed, the geographies found
in his fictions often do not correspond to those of real-world
Argentina. In his essay "El escritor argentino y la tradición",
Borges notes that the very absence of camels in the
Qur'an was proof
enough that it was an Arabian work. He suggested that only someone
trying to write an "Arab" work would purposefully include a
camel. He uses this example to illustrate how his dialogue with
universal existential concerns was just as Argentine as writing about
gauchos and tangos.
At the time of the
Argentine Declaration of Independence
Argentine Declaration of Independence in 1816, the
population was predominantly criollo (of Spanish ancestry). From the
mid-1850s on waves of immigration from Europe, especially Italy and
Spain, arrived in the country, and in the following decades the
Argentine national identity diversified. Borges was writing in
a strongly European literary context, immersed in Spanish, English,
French, German, Italian, Anglo-Saxon and
Old Norse literature. He also
read translations of Near Eastern and Far Eastern works. Borges's
writing is also informed by scholarship of Christianity, Buddhism,
Islam, and Judaism, including prominent religious figures, heretics,
Religion and heresy are explored in such stories as "Averroes's
Search", "The Writing of the God", "The Theologians", and "Three
Versions of Judas". The curious inversion of mainstream Christian
concepts of redemption in the latter story is characteristic of
Borges's approach to theology in his literature.
In describing himself, he said, "I am not sure that I exist, actually.
I am all the writers that I have read, all the people that I have met,
all the women that I have loved; all the cities that I have visited,
all my ancestors." As a young man, he visited the frontier pampas
which extend beyond Argentina into
Uruguay and Brazil. Borges said
that his father wished him "to become a citizen of the world, a great
cosmopolitan," in the way of Henry and William James.
Borges lived and studied in
Switzerland and Spain as a young student.
As Borges matured, he traveled through Argentina as a lecturer and,
internationally, as a visiting professor; he continued to tour the
world as he grew older, finally settling in
Geneva where he had spent
some of his youth. Drawing on the influence of many times and places,
Borges's work belittled nationalism and racism. Portraits of
diverse coexisting cultures characteristic of Argentina are especially
pronounced in the book Six Problems for don Isidoro Parodi
(co-authored with Bioy Casares) and Death and the Compass. Borges
wrote that he considered Mexican essayist
Alfonso Reyes to be "the
best prose-writer in the
Spanish language of any time."
Borges was also an admirer of some Oriental culture, e.g. the ancient
Chinese board game of Go, about which he penned some verses,
The Garden of Forking Paths
The Garden of Forking Paths had a strong oriental theme.
Plaque, 13 rue des Beaux-Arts, Paris
Borges was rooted in the Modernism predominant in its early years and
was influenced by Symbolism. Like
Vladimir Nabokov and James
Joyce, he combined an interest in his native culture with broader
perspectives, also sharing their multilingualism and inventiveness
with language. However, while Nabokov and Joyce tended toward
progressively larger works, Borges remained a miniaturist. His work
progressed away from what he referred to as "the baroque": his later
style is far more transparent and naturalistic than his earlier works.
Borges represented the humanist view of media that stressed the social
aspect of art driven by emotion. If art represented the tool, then
Borges was more interested in how the tool could be used to relate to
Existentialism saw its apogee during the years of Borges's greatest
artistic production. It has been argued that his choice of topics
largely ignored existentialism's central tenets. Critic Paul de Man
notes, "Whatever Borges's existential anxieties may be, they have
little in common with Sartre's robustly prosaic view of literature,
with the earnestness of Camus' moralism, or with the weighty
profundity of German existential thought. Rather, they are the
consistent expansion of a purely poetic consciousness to its furthest
As a political conservative, Borges "was repulsed by
Marxism in theory
and practice. Abhorring sentimentality, he rejected the politics and
poetics of cultural identity that held sway in Latin America for so
long." As a universalist, his interest in world literature
reflected an attitude that was also incongruent with the Peronist
Populist nationalism. That government's confiscation of Borges's job
at the Miguel Cané Library fueled his skepticism of government. He
labeled himself a Spencerian anarchist, following his
Main article: Borges and mathematics
The essay collection Borges y la Matemática (Borges and Mathematics,
2003) by Argentine mathematician and writer Guillermo Martínez,
outlines how Borges used concepts from mathematics in his work.
Martínez states that Borges had, for example, at least a superficial
knowledge of set theory, which he handles with elegance in stories
such as "The Book of Sand". Other books such as The Unimaginable
Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel by William Goldbloom Bloch
(2008) and Unthinking Thinking: Jorge Luis Borges, Mathematics, and
the New Physics by Floyd Merrell (1991) also explore this
Fritz Mauthner, philosopher of language and author of the Wörterbuch
der Philosophie (Dictionary of Philosophy), had an important influence
on Borges. Borges always recognized the influence of this German
philosopher. According to the literary review Sur, the book was
one of the five books most noted and read by Borges. The first time
that Borges mentioned Mauthner was in 1928 in his book The language of
Argentines (El idioma de los argentinos). In a 1962 interview
Borges described Mauthner as possessing a fine sense of humor as well
as great knowledge and erudition.
Ancestors of Jorge Luis Borges
8. Francisco de Borges
4. Francisco Borges
9. María del Carmen Lafinur
2. Jorge Guillermo Borges
10. Edward Young Haslam
5. Frances Ann Haslam
11. Jane Arnett
1. Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges
12. Judas Tadeo Acevedo
6. Isidoro Acevedo Laprida
13. Hermenegilda Laprida y Olivera
3. Leonor Acevedo Suárez
14. Manuel Isidoro Suárez
7. Leonor Suárez Haedo
15. Jacinta Martínez de Haedo y Soler
^ In short, Borges' blindness led him to favour poetry and shorter
narratives over novels. Ferriera, Eliane Fernanda C. "O (In) visível
imaginado em Borges". In: Pedro Pires Bessa (ed.). Riqueza Cultural
Ibero-Americana. Campus de Divinópolis-UEMG, 1996, pp. 313–14.
^ Edwin Williamson suggests in Borges (Viking, 2004) that Borges did
not finish his baccalauréat (pp. 79–80): "he cannot have been
too bothered about his baccalauréat, not least because he loathed and
feared examination. (He was never to finish his high school education,
^ "His was a particular kind of blindness, grown on him gradually
since the age of thirty and settled in for good after his fifty-eighth
birthday." From Manguel, Alberto (2006) With Borges. London: Telegram
Books, pp. 15–16.
^ The Borges poems in H. R. Hays, ed. (1943) 12 Spanish American Poets
are "A Patio", "Butcher Shop", "Benares", "The Recoleta", "A Day's
Run", "General Quiroga Rides to Death in a Carriage", "July Avenue,"
and "Natural Flow of Memory".
^ Notable translations also include work by Melville, Faulkner, Sir
Thomas Browne, and G. K. Chesterton.
^ a b c His imitations of Swedenborg and others were originally passed
off as translations, in his literary column in Crítica. "El teólogo"
was originally published with the note "Lo anterior ... es obra
de Manuel Swedenborg, eminente ingeniero y hombre de ciencia, que
durante 27 años estuvo en comercio lúcido y familiar con el otro
mundo." ("The preceding [...] is the work of Emanuel Swedenborg,
eminent engineer and man of science, who during 27 years was in lucid
and familiar commerce with the other world.") See "Borges y Revista
multicolor de los sábados: confabulados en una escritura de la
infamia" by Raquel Atena Green, Wor(l)ds of Change: Latin American and
Iberian Literature, volume 32, (2010) Peter Lang Publishing;
^ Non-linearity was key to the development of digital media. See
Murray, Janet H. "Inventing the Medium" The New Media Reader.
Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003.
^ Borges profile. Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary;
accessed 1 April 2016.
^ *David Wheatley (Director) (1983). Profile of a Writer: Borges and I
(Feature Documentary). Arena.
^ a b Theo L. D'Haen (1995) "Magical Realism and Postmodernism:
Decentering Privileged Centers", in: Louis P. Zamora and Wendy B.
Faris, Magical Realism: Theory, History and Community. Duhan and
London, Duke University Press pp. 191–208.
^ On his conference "Magical Realism in Spanish American" (New York,
MLA, 1954), published later in Hispania, 38 (2), 1955.
^ Borges on Life and Death, Interview by Amelia Barili.
^ (in Portuguese) Masina, Lea. (2001) "Murilo Rubião, o mágico do
conto". In: O pirotécnico Zacarias e outros contos escolhidos. Porto
Alegre: L & PM, pg. 5.
^ Coetzee, J.M. "Borges’ Dark Mirror", New York Review of Books,
Volume 45, Number 16. 22 October 1998.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Tóibín, Colm, "Don't abandon
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Ronald Christ (Winter–Spring 1967). "Jorge Luis Borges, The Art of
Fiction No. 39". Paris Review.
BBC Radio 4 discussion programme from In our time. (Audio 45 mins)
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges at The Modern Word
Borges Center, University of Pittsburgh.
The Friends of
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International Foundation Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges
A Universal History of Infamy
"On Exactitude in Science"
"Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius"
"The Approach to Al-Mu'tasim"
"Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote"
"The Circular Ruins"
"The Lottery in Babylon"
"An Examination of the Work of Herbert Quain"
"The Library of Babel"
"The Garden of Forking Paths"
"Funes the Memorious"
"The Form of the Sword"
"Theme of the Traitor and the Hero"
"Death and the Compass"
"The Secret Miracle"
"Three Versions of Judas"
"The Sect of the Phoenix"
"The Dead Man"
"The House of Asterion"
"The Writing of the God"
"The Two Kings and the Two Labyrinths"
"The Analytical Language of John Wilkins"
"Borges and I"
Dr. Brodie's Report
"The Gospel According to Mark"
The Book of Sand
"There Are More Things"
"The Book of Sand"
Historia de la eternidad
"A New Refutation of Time"
Borges on Martín Fierro
Book of Imaginary Beings
Adrogue, con ilustraciones de Norah Borges
Leonor Acevedo Suarez
Leonor Acevedo Suarez (mother)
Jorge Guillermo Borges (father)
Norah Borges (sister)
Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge
H. Bustos Domecq
Borges and mathematics
Fantasy Award—Life Achievement
Robert Bloch (1975)
Fritz Leiber (1976)
Ray Bradbury (1977)
Frank Belknap Long
Frank Belknap Long (1978)
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges (1979)
Manly Wade Wellman
Manly Wade Wellman (1980)
C. L. Moore
C. L. Moore (1981)
Italo Calvino (1982)
Roald Dahl (1983)
L. Sprague de Camp
L. Sprague de Camp /
Richard Matheson /
E. Hoffmann Price
E. Hoffmann Price / Jack Vance
Donald Wandrei (1984)
Theodore Sturgeon (1985)
Avram Davidson (1986)
Jack Finney (1987)
Everett F. Bleiler (1988)
Evangeline Walton (1989)
R. A. Lafferty
R. A. Lafferty (1990)
Ray Russell (1991)
Edd Cartier (1992)
Harlan Ellison (1993)
Jack Williamson (1994)
Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin (1995)
Gene Wolfe (1996)
Madeleine L'Engle (1997)
Edward L. Ferman /
Andre Norton (1998)
Hugh B. Cave
Hugh B. Cave (1999)
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Marion Zimmer Bradley /
Michael Moorcock (2000)
Frank Frazetta /
Philip José Farmer
Philip José Farmer (2001)
Forrest J Ackerman
Forrest J Ackerman /
George H. Scithers (2002)
Lloyd Alexander /
Donald M. Grant (2003)
Stephen King /
Gahan Wilson (2004)
Tom Doherty /
Carol Emshwiller (2005)
John Crowley /
Stephen Fabian (2006)
Betty Ballantine /
Diana Wynne Jones (2007)
Leo and Diane Dillon
Leo and Diane Dillon /
Patricia A. McKillip
Patricia A. McKillip (2008)
Ellen Asher /
Jane Yolen (2009)
Brian Lumley /
Terry Pratchett /
Peter Straub (2010)
Peter S. Beagle
Peter S. Beagle /
Angélica Gorodischer (2011)
Alan Garner /
George R. R. Martin
George R. R. Martin (2012)
Susan Cooper /
Tanith Lee (2013)
Ellen Datlow /
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (2014)
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