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Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo (; ; 24 August 1899 – 14 June 1986) was an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator, and a key figure in
Spanish-language Spanish ( or , ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries. They are a subgroup of the Italic lang ...
and international literature. His best-known books, ''
Ficciones ''Fictions'' ( es, Ficciones) is a collection of short stories by Argentina, Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges, produced between 1941 and 1956. The English translation of ''Fictions'' was published in 1962, the same year as ''Labyrinth ...
'' (''Fictions'') and ''
El Aleph "The Aleph" (original Spanish language, Spanish title: "El Aleph") is a short story by the Argentina, Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. First published in September 1945, it was reprinted in the short story collection, ''The Aleph (s ...
'' (''The Aleph''), published in the 1940s, are compilations of short stories interconnected by common themes, including dreams, labyrinths, philosophers, libraries, mirrors, fictional writers, and mythology. Borges's works have contributed to
philosophical literature Philosophy and literature involves the literature, literary treatment of philosophers and philosophy, philosophical themes (the literature of philosophy), and the philosophical treatment of issues raised by literature (the philosophy of literatu ...
and the
fantasy Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction involving Magic (supernatural), magical elements, typically set in a fictional universe and sometimes inspired by mythology and folklore. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became fantasy lit ...

fantasy
genre, and influenced the
magic realist Magic realism (also known as magical realism or marvelous realism) is a 20th-century style Style is a manner of doing or presenting things and may refer to: * Architectural style An architectural style is a set of characteristics and features ...
movement in 20th century Latin American literature.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. His late poems converse with such cultural figures as
Spinoza Baruch (de) Spinoza (; ; ; born Baruch Espinosa; later as an author and a correspondent Benedictus de Spinoza, anglicized to Benedict de Spinoza; 24 November 1632 – 21 February 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, Por ...

Spinoza
, Camões, and
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an ancient Rome, ancient Roman poet of the Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Augustan period. He composed three ...

Virgil
. Born in
Buenos Aires Buenos Aires ( or ; ), officially Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or cap ...

Buenos Aires
, Borges later moved with his family to Switzerland in 1914, where he studied at the
Collège de Genève In France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several la ...
. The family travelled widely in Europe, including Spain. On his return to Argentina in 1921, Borges began publishing his poems and essays in
surrealist Surrealism was a cultural movement A cultural movement is a change in the way a number of different disciplines approach their work. This embodies all art forms, the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") ...
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 The University of Buenos Aires ( es, Universidad de Buenos Aires, UBA) is a public university, public research university in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Established in 1821, it is the premier institution of higher learning in the country and one o ...
. He became completely blind by the age of 55. Scholars have suggested that his progressive blindness helped him to create innovative literary symbols through imagination. By the 1960s, his work was translated and published widely in the United States and Europe. Borges himself was fluent in several languages. In 1961, he came to international attention when he received the first Formentor Prize, which he shared with
Samuel Beckett Samuel Barclay Beckett (; 13 April 1906 – 22 December 1989) was an Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer, theatre director, poet, and literary translator Translation is the communication of the meaning Meaning most commonly ...

Samuel Beckett
. In 1971, he won the
Jerusalem Prize The Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society is a biennial literary award given to writers whose works have dealt with themes of human freedom in society. It is awarded at the Jerusalem International Book Fair, and the recipi ...
. His international reputation was consolidated in the 1960s, aided by his works being available in English, by the
Latin American Boom The Latin American Boom ( es, Boom latinoamericano) was a literary movement of the 1960s and 1970s when the work of a group of relatively young Latin American novelists became widely circulated in Europe and throughout the world. The Boom is mos ...
and by the success of García Márquez's ''
One Hundred Years of Solitude ''One Hundred Years of Solitude'' ( es, Cien años de soledad, ) is a 1967 Events January * January 1 – Canada begins a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, Confederation, featuring the Expo 67 Wo ...
''. Masina, Lea. (2001) "Murilo Rubião, o mágico do conto". In: ''O pirotécnico Zacarias e outros contos escolhidos''.
Porto Alegre Porto Alegre (, , Brazilian ; ) is the capital and largest city of the Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5&nbs ...

Porto Alegre
: L & PM, pg. 5.
He dedicated his final work, ''The Conspirators'', to the city of
Geneva, Switzerland , neighboring_municipalities= Carouge Carouge () is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland. History Carouge is first mentioned in the Early Middle Ages as ''Quadruvium'' and ''Quatruvio''. In 124 ...

Geneva, Switzerland
. Writer and essayist 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."


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 Buenos Aires ( or ; ), officially Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or cap ...

Buenos Aires
so the family resided in
Palermo Palermo ( , ; scn, Palermu , locally also or ; la, Panormus, from grc, Πάνορμος, Pánormos; older ar, بَلَرْم‎, Balarm) is a city in southern Italy Southern Italy ( it, Sud Italia; nap, 'o Sudde; scn, Italia dû Sud), ...

Palermo
, then a poorer neighbourhood. Borges's mother, Leonor Acevedo Suárez, came from a traditional Uruguayan family of
criollo Criollo or criolla (Spanish for creole) may refer to: People * Criollo people, a social class in the Spanish race-based colonial caste system (the European descendants) Animals * Muscovy duck, Criollo duck, a species of duck native to Central an ...
(Spanish) origin. Her family had been much involved in the European settling of South America and the
Argentine War of Independence The Argentine War of Independence was fought from 1810 to 1818 by Argentine patriotic forces under Manuel Belgrano, Juan José Castelli and José de San Martín against Royalist (Spanish American Revolution), royalist forces loyal to the Spani ...
, 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 Francisco Narciso de Laprida (October 28, 1786 in San Juan Province, Argentina, San Juan – September 22, 1829) was an Argentina, Argentine lawyer and politician. He was a representative for San Juan, Argentina, San Juan at the Congress of T ...
, Acevedo Laprida fought in the battles of Cepeda in 1859, Pavón in 1861, and Los Corrales in 1880. Acevedo Laprida died of pulmonary congestion in the house where his grandson Jorge Luis Borges was born. According to a study by Antonio Andrade, Jorge Luis Borges had Portuguese ancestry: Borges's great grandfather, Francisco, was born in
Portugal Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=yes ), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who ...

Portugal
in 1770, and lived in
Torre de Moncorvo Torre de Moncorvo () is a List of municipalities of Portugal, municipality in the district of Bragança (district), Bragança in Portugal. The population in 2011 was 8,572, in an area of 531.56 km². The present mayor is Nuno Gonçalves, elec ...

Torre de Moncorvo
, in the North of the country before he emigrated to Argentina, where he married Cármen Lafinur. Borges's own father, Jorge Guillermo Borges Haslam (24 February 1874 – 14 February 1938), was a lawyer, and wrote the novel ''El caudillo'' in 1921. Borges Haslam was born in Entre Ríos 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 Suárez in 1898 and their offspring also included the painter
Norah Borges Leonor Fanny "Norah" Borges Acevedo (March 4, 1901 – July 20, 1998), was a visual artist and art critic, member of the Florida group, and sister of the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. Early life and source of nickname She was the daughte ...

Norah Borges
, sister of Jorge Luis Borges. At age of nine, Jorge Luis Borges translated
Oscar Wilde Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 185430 November 1900) was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of the most popular playwrights in London in the early 1890s. He is ...

Oscar Wilde
's '' The Happy Prince'' into Spanish. It was published in a local journal, but Borges's 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 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 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 , neighboring_municipalities= Carouge Carouge () is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland. History Carouge is first mentioned in the Early Middle Ages as ''Quadruvium'' and ''Quatruvio''. In 124 ...

Geneva
, Switzerland, and spent the next decade in Europe. In Geneva, Borges Haslam was treated by an eye specialist, while his son and daughter attended school. Jorge Luis learned French, read
Thomas Carlyle Thomas Carlyle (4 December 17955 February 1881) was a Scottish Scottish usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including: *Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family native to Sco ...

Thomas Carlyle
in English, and 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 The ''baccalauréat'' (), often known in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent ...
from the
Collège de Genève In France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several la ...
in 1918.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, in fact)." The Borges family decided that, due to political unrest in Argentina, they would remain in Switzerland during the war. After
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
, the family spent three years living in various cities:
Lugano Lugano (, , ; lmo, label= Ticinese, Lugan ) is a town A town is a human settlement In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the la ...

Lugano
, Barcelona,
Majorca Mallorca, or Majorca, is the largest island in the Balearic Islands, which are part of Spain and located in the Mediterranean. The capital of the island, Palma, Majorca, Palma, is also the capital of the autonomous communities of Spain, autono ...
, Seville, and Madrid. They remained in Europe until 1921. At that time, Borges discovered the writings of
Arthur Schopenhauer Arthur Schopenhauer (; ; 22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citize ...
and
Gustav Meyrink Gustav Meyrink (19 January 1868 – 4 December 1932) was the pseudonym of Gustav Meyer, an Austrian author, novelist, dramatist, translator, and banker, most famous for his novel ''The Golem (Meyrink novel), The Golem''. He has been described as ...
's ''
The Golem A golem is an artificial animated being in medieval and Jewish folklore. Golem or The Golem may also refer to: Film * The Golem (1915 film), ''The Golem'' (1915 film), a film by Paul Wegener and Henrik Galeen * ''The Golem: How He Came into the ...
'' (1915) which became influential to his work. In Spain, Borges fell in with and became a member of the
avant-garde The avant-garde (; In 'advance guard' or 'vanguard', literally 'fore-guard') are people or works that are experimental, Wikt:radical#Adjective, radical, or unorthodox with respect to The arts, art, culture, or society.John Picchione, The New A ...
, anti-
Modernismo ''Modernismo'' is a literary movement that took place primarily during the end of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth-century in Spain and Latin America, best exemplified by Rubén Darío who is also known as the father of ''Modernismo''. The term ' ...

Modernismo
Ultraist literary movement, inspired by
Guillaume Apollinaire Guillaume Apollinaire (; 26 August 1880 – 9 November 1918) (born as ''Wilhelm Albert Włodzimierz Apolinary de Wąż-Kostrowicki'') was a French poet A poet is a person who creates poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language ...

Guillaume Apollinaire
and
Filippo Tommaso Marinetti Filippo Tommaso Emilio Marinetti (; 22 December 1876 – 2 December 1944) was an Italian poet, editor, art theorist, and founder of the Futurist Futurists (also known as futurologists, prospectivists, foresight practitioners and horizon sca ...

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti
, close to the
Imagist Imagism was a movement in early-20th-century Anglo-American poetry that favored precision of imagery Imagery is visual The visual system comprises the sensory organ (the eye) and parts of the central nervous system (the retina containin ...
s. His first poem, "Hymn to the Sea," written in the style of
Walt Whitman Walter Whitman (; May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist Humanism is a philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as t ...

Walt Whitman
, was published in the magazine ''Grecia''. While in Spain, he met such noted Spanish writers as Rafael Cansinos Assens and Ramón Gómez de la Serna.


Early writing career

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 The Ultraist movement () was a literature, literary art movement, movement born in Spain in 1918, with the declared intention of opposing Modernismo, which had dominated Spanish poetry since the end of the 19th century. The movement was launched ...
and launched his career, publishing surreal poems and essays in literary journals. In 1923, Borges first published his poetry, a collection called ''Fervor de Buenos Aires'' and contributed to the avant-garde review ''
Martín Fierro :''This article deals with Hernández's poem. For other things named after it, see Martín Fierro (disambiguation)'' ''Martín Fierro'', also known as ''El Gaucho Martín Fierro'', is a 2,316-line epic poem by the Argentina, Argentine writer Jos ...
''. 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 Nepomuceno Carlos Pérez Rulfo Vizcaíno, best known as Juan Rulfo ( ; 16 May 1917 – 7 January 1986), was a Mexican writer, screenwriter, and photographer. He is best known for two literary works, the 1955 novel ''Pedro Páramo ''Pedro ...
, Juan José Arreola, and
Alejo Carpentier Alejo Carpentier y Valmont (December 26, 1904 – April 24, 1980) was a Cuba Cuba ( , ), officially the Republic of Cuba ( es, República de Cuba, links=no ), is a country comprising the island of Cuba, as well as Isla de la Juventud ...
, were investigating these themes, influenced by the
phenomenology Phenomenology may refer to: Art * Phenomenology (architecture) Phenomenology in architecture upright=1.45, alt=Plan d'exécution du second étage de l'hôtel de Brionne (dessin) De Cotte 2503c – Gallica 2011 (adjusted), Plan of the secon ...
of
Husserl , thesis1_title = Beiträge zur Variationsrechnung (Contributions to the Calculus of Variations) , thesis1_url = https://fedora.phaidra.univie.ac.at/fedora/get/o:58535/bdef:Book/view , thesis1_year = 1883 , thesis2_title ...
and
Heidegger Martin Heidegger (; ; 26 September 188926 May 1976) was a key German philosopher of the 20th century. He is best known for contributions to Phenomenology (philosophy), phenomenology, hermeneutics, and existentialism. In Heidegger's fundamental ...

Heidegger
. In this vein, Borges biographer Edwin Williamson underlines the danger of 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 Victoria Ocampo (7 April 1890 – 27 January 1979) was an Argentine Argentines (also known as Argentinians or Argentineans; es, masculine Masculinity (also called manhood or manliness) is a set of attributes, behavior Beh ...

Victoria Ocampo
. It was then Argentina's most important literary journal and helped Borges find his fame. Ocampo introduced Borges to
Adolfo Bioy Casares Adolfo Bioy Casares (; September 15, 1914 – March 8, 1999) was an Argentine Argentines (also known as Argentinians or Argentineans; es, masculine Masculinity (also called manhood or manliness) is a set of attributes, behavior ...
, another well-known figure of
Argentine literature Argentine literature, i.e. the set of literary works produced by writers who originated from Argentina, is one of the most prolific, relevant and influential in the whole Spanish speaking world, with renowned writers such as Jorge Luis Borges, Jul ...

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, , became a major influence on Borges. The two would preside over discussions in cafés, at country retreats, or in Fernandez's tiny apartment in the
Balvanera Balvanera is a Barrios of Buenos Aires, barrio or neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Origin of name and alternative names The official name, Balvanera, is the name of the ''parroquia'' (parish) centered around the church of ''Nuestra Señor ...
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 ''A Universal History of Infamy'', or ''A Universal History of Iniquity'' (original Spanish title: ''Historia universal de la infamia''), is a collection of short stories by Jorge Luis Borges, first published in 1935, and revised by the author in ...
'') 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 to 1939 wrote weekly columns for ''El Hogar''. In 1938, Borges found work as the first assistant at the Miguel Cané Municipal Library. It was in a working-class area and there were so few books that cataloging more than one hundred books per day, he was told, would leave little to do for the other staff and would make them 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.


Later career

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
sepsis Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body's response to infection An infection is the invasion of an organism's body by , their multiplication, and the reaction of tissues to the infectious agents and the s they pr ...
. While recovering from the accident, Borges began exploring 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 "The Garden of Forking Paths" (original Spanish title: "El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan") is a 1941 short story by Argentina, Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. It is the title story in the collection ''El jardín de senderos que ...
''), 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 Hypertext is text displayed on a computer display A computer monitor is an output device that displays information in pictorial or text form. A monitor usually comprises a electronic visual display, visual display, electronic circuit, ...
novel and went on to describe a theory of the universe based upon the structure of such a novel. Composed of 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."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. 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 "Emma Zunz" is a short story by Argentina, Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. The tale recounts how its eponymous heroine avenges the death of her father. Originally published in September 1948 in the magazine ''Sur'', it was reprinted in Borges ...
" was made into a film (under the name of '' Días de odio'', ''Days of Hate'', directed in 1954 by
Leopoldo Torre Nilsson Leopoldo Torre Nilsson (5 May 1924 – 8 September 1978), also known as Leo Towers and as Babsy, was an cinema of Argentina, Argentine film director, producer and screenwriter. Born as Leopoldo Torres Nilsson (he later changed his paternal su ...
). Around this time, Borges also began writing screenplays. In 1955, he became director of the Argentine National Library. By the late 1950s he had become completely blind. Neither the coincidence nor the irony of his blindness as a writer escaped Borges: :''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 The National University of Cuyo ( es, Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, UNCuyo) is the largest center of higher education in the province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticl ...
awarded Borges the first of many honorary doctorates and the following year he received the National Prize for Literature .Burgin (1988) p xvii From 1956 to 1970, Borges also held a position as a professor of literature at the
University of Buenos Aires The University of Buenos Aires ( es, Universidad de Buenos Aires, UBA) is a public university, public research university in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Established in 1821, it is the premier institution of higher learning in the country and one o ...
and other temporary appointments at other universities. In the fall of 1967 and spring of 1968, he delivered the
Charles Eliot Norton Lectures The Charles Eliot Norton Charles Eliot Norton (November 16, 1827 – October 21, 1908) was an American author, social critic, and professor of art. He was a progressive social reformer and a liberal activist whom many of his contemporaries consid ...
at
Harvard University Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly t ...

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 Braille ( ; Braille: ⠃⠗⠇; ) is a tactile writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical langua ...

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.


International renown

Eight of Borges's poems appear in the 1943 anthology of Spanish American Poets by H. R. Hays.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". "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 ''Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine'' is a bi-monthly American digest size fiction magazine specializing in crime fiction, particularly detective fiction, and mystery fiction. Launched in fall 1941 by Mercury Publications, Mercury Press, ''EQMM'' is ...
'', translated by
Anthony Boucher William Anthony Parker White known by his pen-name Anthony Boucher (; August 21, 1911 – April 29, 1968), was an American author, critic, and editor Editing is the process of selecting and preparing written Writing is a medium of h ...
. 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 ''Fantastic Universe'' was a U.S. science fiction magazine which began publishing in the 1950s. It ran for 69 issues, from June 1953 to March 1960, under two different publishers. It was part of the explosion of science fiction magazine publishin ...
'' in 1960), his international fame dates from the early 1960s. In 1961, Borges received the first '' Prix International'', which he shared with
Samuel Beckett Samuel Barclay Beckett (; 13 April 1906 – 22 December 1989) was an Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer, theatre director, poet, and literary translator Translation is the communication of the meaning Meaning most commonly ...

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'' and the
University of Texas at Austin The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin, UT, or Texas) is a public university, public research university in Austin, Texas, founded in 1883. The University of Texas was included in the Association of American Universities in 1929. The i ...
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 ''Fictions'' ( es, Ficciones) is a collection of short stories by Argentina, Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges, produced between 1941 and 1956. The English translation of ''Fictions'' was published in 1962, the same year as ''Labyrinth ...
'' and ''
Labyrinths ''Labyrinths'' (1962, 1964, 1970, 1983) is a collection of short stories and essays by the writer Jorge Luis Borges. It was translated into English, published soon after Borges won the Prix Formentor, International Publishers' Prize with Samuel ...
''. In that year, Borges began lecture tours of Europe. Numerous honors were to accumulate over the years such as a Special
Edgar Allan Poe Award The Edgar Allan Poe Awards, popularly called the Edgars, are presented every year by the Mystery Writers of America, based in New York City. Named after American writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849), a pioneer in the genre, the awards honor the be ...
from the
Mystery Writers of America Mystery Writers of America (MWA) is an organization of mystery and crime writers, based in New York City. The organization was founded in 1945 by Clayton Rawson, Anthony Boucher, Lawrence Treat, and Brett Halliday. It presents the Edgar Award, a ...
"for distinguished contribution to the mystery genre" (1976), the
Balzan Prize The International Balzan Prize Foundation awards four annual monetary prizes to people or organizations who have made outstanding achievements in the fields of humanities, natural sciences, culture, as well as for endeavours for peace and the b ...
(for Philology, Linguistics and literary Criticism) and the
Prix mondial Cino Del Duca The Prix mondial Cino Del Duca (Cino Del Duca World Prize) is an international literary award. With an award amount of , it is among the List of richest literary prizes, richest literary prizes. Origins and operations It was established in 1969 i ...
, the
Miguel de Cervantes Prize The Miguel de Cervantes Prize ( es, Premio de Literatura en Lengua Castellana Miguel de Cervantes) is awarded annually to honour the lifetime achievement of an outstanding writer in the Spanish language Spanish ( or , ) is a Romance language ...
(all 1980), as well as the French
Legion of Honour The National Order of the Legion of Honour (french: Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur), formerly the Royal Order of the Legion of Honour (') is the highest French order of merit An order of merit is an honorific order Order or ORDER or ...
(1983) and the Diamond
Konex Award Konex Foundation Awards, or simply Konex Awards, are cultural awards from the Konex Foundation honouring Argentine culture, Argentine cultural personalities . History and purpose Konex Awards are granted by the Konex Foundation, created in 1980 ...
for Literature Arts as the most important writer in the last decade in his country. In 1967, Borges began a five-year period of collaboration with the American translator
Norman Thomas di Giovanni Norman Thomas di Giovanni (3 October 1933 – 16 February 2017) was an United States, American-born editing, editor and translator known for his collaboration with Argentina, Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges. Biography Di Giovanni was born in New ...
, through whom he became better known in the English-speaking world. Di Giovanni contended that Borges's popularity was due to his writing with multiple languages in mind and deliberately using Latin words as a bridge from Spanish to English. Borges 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 "The Book of Sand" ( es, El libro de arena, links=no) is a 1975 in literature, 1975 short story by Argentina, Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges about the discovery of a book with Infinity, infinite pages. It has parallels to the same author's 1 ...
'', 1975). He lectured prolifically. Many of these lectures were anthologized in volumes such as ''Siete noches'' (''Seven Nights'') and ''Nueve ensayos dantescos'' (''Nine Dantesque Essays''). His presence in 1967 on campus at the
University of Virginia The University of Virginia (U.Va. or UVA) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organisat ...

University of Virginia
(UVA) in the U.S. 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 Borges's early works. 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 the
University of Crete The University of Crete (UoC; Greek: Πανεπιστήμιο Κρήτης) is a multi-disciplinary, research-oriented institution in Crete, Greece, located in the cities of Rethymno (official seat) and Heraklion, and one of the country's most acad ...
.


Later personal life

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 Paraguay (; ), officially the Republic of Paraguay ( es, República del Paraguay, links=no; gn, Tetã Paraguái, links=no), is a country in South America South America is a entirely in the and mostly in the , with a relatively sma ...

Paraguay
, in what was then a common practice among 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 was taught to read the Bible by his English Protestant grandmother and he prayed the Our Father each night because of a promise he made to his mother. He also died in the presence of a priest.


Death

During his final days in Geneva, Borges began brooding about the possibility of an
afterlife The afterlife (also referred to as life after death or the world to come) is an existence in which the essential part of an individual's identity Identity may refer to: Social sciences * Identity (social science), personhood or group ...

afterlife
. Although calm and collected about his own death, Borges began probing Kodama as to whether she inclined more towards the
Shinto Shinto () is a religion which originated in Japan. Classified as an East Asian religions, East Asian religion by Religious studies, scholars of religion, its practitioners often regard it as Japan's indigenous religion and as a nature religion. ...

Shinto
beliefs of her father or the
Catholicism The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian r ...
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 Liver cancer (also known as hepatic cancer, primary hepatic cancer, or primary hepatic malignancy) is cancer Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. ...
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 The Gospel according to John ( el, Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Ἰωάννην, translit=Euangélion katà Iōánnēn, also known as the Gospel of John, or simply John) is the fourth of the four canonical gospels. It contains a highly sc ...
. 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 said, 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.


Legacy

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 Pierre Assouline (born 17 April 1953) is a French writer and journalist. He was born in Casablanca, Morocco to a Jewish family. He has published several novels and biographies, and also contributes articles for the print media and broadcasts for ...
in ''
Le Nouvel Observateur ''L'Obs'' (), previously known as ''Le Nouvel Observateur'' (1964–2014), is a weekly French news magazine A news magazine is a typed, printed, and published magazine A magazine is a periodical publication Periodical literature (als ...
'' (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 Norman Thomas di Giovanni (3 October 1933 – 16 February 2017) was an United States, American-born editing, editor and translator known for his collaboration with Argentina, Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges. Biography Di Giovanni was born in New ...
, 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 official translations in English.


Political opinions

During the 1920s and 1930s, Borges was a vocal supporter of
Hipólito Yrigoyen Juan Hipólito del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús Yrigoyen (12 July 1852 – 3 July 1933) was an Argentine politician, from the Radical Civic Union, and two-time President of Argentina The President of Argentina ( es, Presidente de Argen ...

Hipólito Yrigoyen
and the social democratic
Radical Civic Union The Radical Civic Union ( es, Unión Cívica Radical, UCR) is a centrist Social liberalism, progressive-liberal political party in Argentina. It has been ideologically heterogeneous, ranging from social liberalism to social democracy. The UCR i ...
. In 1945, Borges signed a manifesto calling for an end to military rule and the establishment of political liberty and democratic elections. By the 1960s, he had grown more skeptical of democracy. During a 1971 conference at
Columbia University Columbia University (also known as Columbia, and officially as Columbia University in the City of New York) is a Private university, private Ivy League research university in New York City. Established in 1754 as King's College on the grounds of ...

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-Day War The Six-Day War (; ar, النكسة, translit=an-Naksah, lit=The Setback or ), also known as the June War, the 1967 Arab–Israeli War or the Third Arab–Israeli War, was an armed conflict fought from 5 to 10 June 1967 between Israel and a ...
. 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." In the 1980s, towards the end of his life, Borges regained his earlier faith in democracy and held it out as the only hope for Argentina. In 1983, Borges applauded the election of the Radical Civic Union's
Raúl Alfonsín Raúl Ricardo Alfonsín Foulkes (12 March 1927 – 31 March 2009) was an Argentine Argentines (also known as Argentinians or Argentineans; es, masculine Masculinity (also called manhood or manliness) is a set of attributes ...

Raúl Alfonsín
and welcomed the end of military rule with the following words: "I once wrote that democracy is the abuse of statistics ... On October 30, 1983, Argentine democracy refuted me splendidly. Splendidly and resoundingly."


Anti-communism

Borges recurrently declared himself a " anarchist who believes in the individual and not in the State" due to his father's influence. In an interview with
Richard Burgin Richard Burgin may refer to: * Richard Burgin (violinist) * Richard Burgin (writer) {{hndis, Burgin, Richard ...
during the late 1960s, Borges described himself as a "mild" adherent of
classical liberalism Classical liberalism is a political ideology and a History of liberalism, branch of liberalism that advocates free market, civil liberties under the rule of law with an emphasis on limited government, economic freedom, and political freedom. I ...
. He further recalled that his opposition to communism and to
Marxism Marxism is a method of socioeconomic Socioeconomics (also known as social economics) is the social science that studies how economic activity affects and is shaped by social processes. In general it analyzes how modern society, societies soci ...
was absorbed in his childhood, stating: "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'' is a given name, the Spanish language, Spanish and Manx language, Manx versions of ''John (given name), John''. It is very common in Spain and in other Spanish-speaking communities around the world and in the Philippines, and also (pronoun ...

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 The Communist Party of Argentina ( es, Partido Comunista de la Argentina, also simply known as "PC") is a communist party in Argentina. The party now forms part of the Frente de Todos (2019 coalition), Frente de Todos, the ruling coalition s ...
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 Estela Canto (September 4, 1915 – June 3, 1994) was an Argentine writer, journalist and translator best known for her relationship with Jorge Luis Borges. Life Canto was the descendant of an old Uruguayan family. Her ancestors included some ...
. In a 1956 interview given to ''El Hogar'', he stated that " ommunistsare 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." Borges 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 A one-party state, single-party state, one-party system, or single-party system is a type of unitary state in which only one political party has the right to form the government, usually based on the existing constitution. All other parties are e ...
." 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 Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto (12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973), better known by his pen name and, later, legal name Pablo Neruda (; ), was a Chilean poet-diplomat and politician who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. Ne ...

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 poet and playwright
Federico García Lorca Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca (; 5 June 1898 – 19 August 1936), known as Federico García Lorca ( ), was a Spanish poet, playwright, and theatre director. García Lorca achieved international recognition as an emblema ...
, who was abducted by Nationalist soldiers and executed without trial during the
Spanish Civil War The Spanish Civil War ( es, Guerra Civil Española)) or The Revolution ( es, La Revolución) among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War ( es, Cuarta Guerra Carlista) among Carlism, Carlists, and The Rebellion ( es, La Rebelión) or Uprising ( ...

Spanish Civil War
. In Borges's opinion, Lorca's poetry and plays, when examined against his tragic death, appeared better than they actually were.


Anti-fascism

In 1934, Argentine
ultra-nationalist Ultranationalism is "extreme nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common cul ...
s, sympathetic to
Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was the dictator of Nazi Germany, Germany from 1933 to 1945. Adolf Hitler's rise to power, He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming Cha ...

Adolf Hitler
and the
Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), was a far-right Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism, ...
, asserted Borges was secretly Jewish, and by implication, not truly Argentinian. Borges responded with the essay "Yo, Judío" ("Me, I'm a Jew"), a reference to the old phrase "Yo, Argentino" ("Me, I'm Argentine") uttered by potential victims during
pogrom A pogrom is a violent riot Rioters wearing scarves to conceal their identity and filter tear gas A riot () is a form of civil disorder Civil disorder, also known as civil disturbance, civil unrest, or social unrest is an activity arising ...
s against Argentine Jews, to signify one was not Jewish.De Costa, René (2000) ''Humor in Borges (Humor in Life & Letters)''. Wayne State University Press p. 49 In the essay, Borges declares he would be proud to be a Jew, and remarks that any pure Castilian is likely to come from ancient Jewish descent, from a millennium ago. Both before and during the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, Borges regularly published essays attacking the Nazi police state and its racist ideology. His outrage was fueled by his deep love for
German literature German literature () comprises those literary Literature broadly is any collection of written Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Seman ...
. 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, In 1946, Borges published the short story " Deutsches Requiem", which masquerades as the last testament of a condemned
Nazi war criminal The following is a list of people who were formally indicted for committing war crimes on behalf of the Axis powers during World War II, including those who were acquitted or never received judgment. It does not include people who may have commit ...
named Otto Dietrich zur Linde. In a 1971 conference at
Columbia University Columbia University (also known as Columbia, and officially as Columbia University in the City of New York) is a Private university, private Ivy League research university in New York City. Established in 1754 as King's College on the grounds of ...

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 Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was the dictator of Nazi Germany, Germany from 1933 to 1945. Adolf Hitler's rise to power, He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming Cha ...

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 Blitzkrieg (, from ''Blitz'' lightning"+ ''Krieg'' war" is a method of warfare where the attacker spearheads an offensive using a rapid overwhelming force concentration Force concentration is the practice of concentrating a military for ...

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 ideal Nazi." At 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 The concept of an archetype (; from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its popu ...
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."


Anti-Peronism

In 1946, Argentine President
Juan Perón Juan Domingo Perón (, , ; 8 October 1895 – 1 July 1974) was an Argentine Army The Argentine Army (''Ejército Argentino'', EA) is the Army, land armed force branch of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic and the senior military ser ...
began transforming Argentina into a
one-party state A one-party state, single-party state, one-party system, or single-party system is a type of sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. ...
with the assistance of his wife, . Almost immediately, the
spoils system In politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, such as the dis ...
was the rule of the day, as ideological critics of the ruling ''
Partido Justicialista The Justicialist Party ( es, Partido Justicialista, ; abbr. PJ) is a major political party in Argentina, and the largest branch within Peronism. Current president Alberto Fernández belongs to the Justicialist Party (and has, since 2021, served ...
'' 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 following day. Perón's treatment of Borges became a
cause célèbre A cause célèbre (,''Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged'', 12th Edition, 2014. S.v. "cause célèbre". Retrieved November 30, 2018 from https://www.thefreedictionary.com/cause+c%c3%a9l%c3%a8bre ,''Random House Kernerman We ...
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: 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 The French Resistance (french: La Résistance) was a collection of organisations who fought the Nazi occupation of France The Military Administration in France (german: Militärverwaltung in Frankreich; french: Occupation de la France par l ...
, as well as '
La Marseillaise "La Marseillaise" is the national anthem A national anthem is a patriotic Patriotism or national pride is the feeling of love, devotion, and sense of attachment to a homeland and alliance with other citizens who share the same sent ...

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, On 16 September 1955, General
Pedro Eugenio Aramburu Pedro Eugenio Aramburu Silveti (May 21, 1903 – June 1, 1970) was an Argentine Army The Argentine Army (''Ejército Argentino'', EA) is the Army, land armed force branch of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic and the senior military ...

Pedro Eugenio Aramburu
's ''
Revolución Libertadora ''Revolución Libertadora'' (; ''Liberating Revolution'') was the coup d'état A coup d'état (; French for "blow of state"), often shortened to coup in English, (also known as an overthrow) is a seizure and removal of a government and ...
'' 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's mother and his own role on the opposition to Peron, the provisional government appointed Borges as the Director of the
National Library A national library is a library A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are easily accessible for use and not just for display purposes. It is responsible for housing updated information in order to meet the user's need ...
. 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 A police state describes a state where its government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government n ...
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 A conspiracy theory is an explanation for an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy A conspiracy, also known as a plot, is a secret plan or agreement between persons (called conspirers or conspirators) for an unlawful or harmful purp ...
the ruling couple dictated to their followers and how those theories were accepted without question. Borges concluded: 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 prostitute." When Perón returned from exile in 1973 and regained the Presidency, Borges was enraged. In a 1975 interview for ''
National Geographic ''National Geographic'' (formerly the ''National Geographic Magazine'', sometimes branded as NAT GEO) is an American monthly magazine published by the National Geographic Society The National Geographic Society (NGS), headquartered in Was ...
'', 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."''National Geographic'', p. 303. (March 1975). 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 Thermonuclear fusion is the process of atoms combining or “fusing” together with huge amounts of heat. There are two forms of thermonuclear fusion: ''uncontrolled'', in which the resulting energy is released in an uncontrolled manner, as it is ...
, 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's death in 1986, the Peronist ''
Partido Justicialista The Justicialist Party ( es, Partido Justicialista, ; abbr. PJ) is a major political party in Argentina, and the largest branch within Peronism. Current president Alberto Fernández belongs to the Justicialist Party (and has, since 2021, served ...
'' 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 "unacceptable".


Military junta

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 The Dirty War ( es, Guerra sucia) is the name used by the military junta A military junta () is a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. ...
. In protest against their support of the regime, Borges ceased publishing in the newspaper ''
La Nación ''La Nación'' (''The Nation'') is an Argentine Argentines (also known as Argentinians or Argentineans; es, Grammatical gender, masculine argentinos; Grammatical gender, feminine ') are people identified with the country of Argentina. Th ...
''. In 1985, he wrote a short poem about the
Falklands War The Falklands War ( es , link=no, Guerra de las Malvinas) was a ten-week undeclared war An undeclared war is military conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or par ...
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." Borges was an observer at the trials of the military junta in 1985 and wrote that "not to judge and condemn the crimes would be to encourage impunity and to become, somehow, its accomplice." Borges added that "the news of the missing people, the crimes and atrocities he militarycommitted" had inspired him to return to his earlier Emersonian faith in democracy.


Works

Wardrip-Fruin and Montfort argue that Borges "may have been the most important figure in Spanish-language literature since
Cervantes Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (; 29 September 1547 (assumed)22 April 1616 NS) was a Spanish writer widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language and one of the world's pre-eminent novelists. He is best known for his novel ''D ...

Cervantes
. He was clearly of tremendous influence, writing intricate poems, short stories, and essays that instantiated concepts of dizzying power."Wardrip-Fruin, Noah, and Nick Montfort, ed. (2003). ''The New Media Reader'', Cambridge: The MIT Press, p. 29; The work of Borges has been compared to that of
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally re ...

Homer
and . 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 In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, lan ...

idealism
runs through his work, reflected in the fictional world of Tlön in "
Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" is a short story by the 20th-century Argentina, Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. The story was first published in the Argentinian journal ''Sur (magazine), Sur'', May 1940 in literature, 1940. The "postscript" d ...
" and in his essay " A New Refutation of Time". It also appears as a theme in "
On Exactitude in Science "On Exactitude in Science" or "On Rigor in Science" (the original Spanish language, Spanish-language title is "Del rigor en la ciencia") is a one-paragraph short story written in 1946 by Jorge Luis Borges, about the map–territory relation, written ...
" 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 language, Old English, and Old Norse into Spanish. His first publication, for a Buenos Aires newspaper, was a translation of
Oscar Wilde Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 185430 November 1900) was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of the most popular playwrights in London in the early 1890s. He is ...

Oscar Wilde
's story "The Happy Prince and Other Stories, 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 Walter Whitman (; May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist Humanism is a philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as t ...

Walt Whitman
, and Virginia Woolf.Notable translations also include work by Herman Melville, Melville, William Faulkner, Faulkner, Sir Thomas Browne, and G. K. Chesterton. 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 Pseudepigraphy, pseudo-epigrapha.


Hoaxes and forgeries

Borges's best-known set of Literary forgery, 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 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''. Several of these are gathered in the ''
A Universal History of Infamy ''A Universal History of Infamy'', or ''A Universal History of Iniquity'' (original Spanish title: ''Historia universal de la infamia''), is a collection of short stories by Jorge Luis Borges, first published in 1935, and revised by the author in ...
''. While Borges was the great popularizer of the review of an imaginary work, he had developed the idea from
Thomas Carlyle Thomas Carlyle (4 December 17955 February 1881) was a Scottish Scottish usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including: *Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family native to Sco ...

Thomas Carlyle
's ''Sartor Resartus'', a book-length review of a non-existent German transcendentalism, 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 "Erewhon" Butler, 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 poem Moments (poem), "Instantes".


Criticism of Borges's work

Borges's change in style from regionalist ''criollismo'' to a more cosmopolitan style brought him much criticism from journals such as '':es:Contorno_(revista), Contorno'', a leftist, Sartre-influenced Argentine publication founded by David Viñas and his brother, along with other intellectuals such as 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.Katra, William H. (1988) ''Contorno: Literary Engagement in Post-Perónist Argentina''. Teaneck, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, pp. 56–57 The ''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.


Sexuality and perception of women

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 Borges's fiction. However, there are some instances in Borges's later writings of romantic love, for example the story "Ulrikke (short story), Ulrikke" from ''
The Book of Sand "The Book of Sand" ( es, El libro de arena, links=no) is a 1975 in literature, 1975 short story by Argentina, Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges about the discovery of a book with Infinity, infinite pages. It has parallels to the same author's 1 ...
''. 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". 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 relationship.


Nobel Prize omission

Borges was never awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, something which continually distressed the writer.Tóibín, Colm
"Don't abandon me", ''London Review of Books'', 11 May 20061; retrieved 19 April 2009.
/ref> 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 Augusto Pinochet. Borges was however among the short-listed candidates several times. In 1965 he was considered along with Vladimir Nabokov,
Pablo Neruda Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto (12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973), better known by his pen name and, later, legal name Pablo Neruda (; ), was a Chilean poet-diplomat and politician who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. Ne ...

Pablo Neruda
and Mikhail Sholokhov, and in 1966 a shared prize to Borges and Miguel Ángel Asturias was proposed. Borges was nominated again 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 last chosen winner.


Fact, fantasy and non-linearity

Many of Borges's best-known stories deal with themes of time ("The Secret Miracle"), infinity ("The Aleph (short story), The Aleph"), mirrors ("
Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" is a short story by the 20th-century Argentina, Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. The story was first published in the Argentinian journal ''Sur (magazine), Sur'', May 1940 in literature, 1940. The "postscript" d ...
") and labyrinths ("The Two Kings and the Two Labyrinths", "The House of Asterion", "The Immortal (short story), The Immortal", "
The Garden of Forking Paths "The Garden of Forking Paths" (original Spanish title: "El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan") is a 1941 short story by Argentina, Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. It is the title story in the collection ''El jardín de senderos que ...
"). 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 reader." His stories often have fantastical themes, such as a library containing every possible 410-page text ("The Library of Babel"), a man who Eidetic memory, 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, Luis Borges (1979) ''Book of Imaginary Beings'' Penguin Books Australia, p. 11; 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.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; "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."Murray, Janet H. "Inventing the Medium" ''The New Media Reader''. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003. 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 Nonlinear narrative, non-linearity.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.


Borgesian conundrum

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 was put forward by Borges in ''Kafka and His Precursors''. After reviewing works that were written before those of Kafka, Borges wrote:


Culture and Argentine literature


''Martín Fierro'' and Argentine tradition

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 (writer), José Hernández, was a dominant work of 19th century
Argentine literature Argentine literature, i.e. the set of literary works produced by writers who originated from Argentina, is one of the most prolific, relevant and influential in the whole Spanish speaking world, with renowned writers such as Jorge Luis Borges, Jul ...

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), 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 poem, 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.Gabriel Waisman, Sergio (2005) ''Borges and Translation: The Irreverence of the Periphery'', Bucknell University Press, pp. 126–29; Borges, Jorge Luis and Lanuza, Eduardo González (1961) "The Argentine writer and tradition" Latin American and European Literary Society Borges points out that Hernández evidently knew the difference between actual gaucho tradition of composing poetry versus the "gauchesque" fashion among Buenos Aires literati. 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. Jean Racine, 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 potential freedom".


Argentine culture

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 (dance), 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 "exotic". 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 Arabs, Arabian work (despite the fact that camels are, in fact, mentioned in the Qur'an). He suggested that only someone trying to write an "Arab" work would purposefully include a camel.Takolander, Maria, (2007) ''Catching butterflies: bringing magical realism to ground'' Peter Lang Pub Inc pp. 55–60; He uses this example to illustrate how his dialogue with universal existential concerns was just as Argentine as writing about gauchos and tangos.


Multicultural influences

At the time of the Argentine Declaration of Independence in 1816, the population was predominantly ''
criollo Criollo or criolla (Spanish for creole) may refer to: People * Criollo people, a social class in the Spanish race-based colonial caste system (the European descendants) Animals * Muscovy duck, Criollo duck, a species of duck native to Central an ...
'' (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, Old English language, Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse language, 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, and mystics.Bell-Villada, Gene ''Borges and His Fiction: A Guide to His Mind and Art''
University of Texas Press;
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 (theology), redemption in the last 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."Jorge Luis Borges profile
guardian.co.uk, 22 July 2008; accessed 15 August 2010.
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 James, 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 , neighboring_municipalities= Carouge Carouge () is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland. History Carouge is first mentioned in the Early Middle Ages as ''Quadruvium'' and ''Quatruvio''. In 124 ...

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. However, Borges also scorned his own Basques, Basque ancestry and criticised the abolition of slavery in America because he believed black people were happier remaining uneducated and without freedom. 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 Asian culture, e.g. the ancient Chinese board game of Go (game), Go, about which he penned some verses, while
The Garden of Forking Paths "The Garden of Forking Paths" (original Spanish title: "El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan") is a 1941 short story by Argentina, Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. It is the title story in the collection ''El jardín de senderos que ...
had a strong Chinese theme.


Influences


Modernism

Borges was rooted in the Literary modernism, Modernism predominant in its early years and was influenced by Symbolism (arts), 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 people. 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 limits."


Mathematics

The essay collection ''Borges y la Matemática'' (Borges and Mathematics, 2003) by Argentine mathematician and writer Guillermo Martínez (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 relationship.


Philosophy

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 the 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. In an interview, Denis Dutton asked Borges who were the "philosophers who have influenced your works, in whom you’ve been the most interested". In reply, Borges named George Berkeley, Berkeley and Arthur Schopenhauer, Schopenhauer. He was also influenced by Spinoza, about whom Borges wrote a famous poem It is not without humour that Borges once wrote “Siempre imaginé que el Paraíso sería algún tipo de biblioteca.” (I always imagined Paradise to be some kind of a library.)


Notes


References


Further reading

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * Illustrated by Donato Grima. *Burgin, Richard (1969) ''Jorge Luis Borges: Conversations'', Holt Rinehart & Winston *Burgin, Richard (1998) ''Jorge Luis Borges: Conversations'', University Press of Mississippi * * * * * * * *Laín Corona, Guillermo. "Borges and Cervantes: Truth and Falsehood in the Narration". ''Neophilologus'', 93 (2009): 421–37. *Laín Corona, Guillermo. "Teoría y práctica de la metáfora en torno a ''Fervor de Buenos Aires'', de Borges". ''Cuadernos de Aleph. Revista de literatura hispánica'', 2 (2007): 79–93. https://web.archive.org/web/20120105024915/http://cuadernosdealeph.com/revista_2007/A2007_pdf/06%20Teor%C3%ADa.pdf * * * *Manovich, Lev
New Media from Borges to HTML, 2003
*Mackay, Neil, ''Borges and Argentina: A Relocation'', in ''Cencrastus'' No. 9, Summer 1982, pp. 17–19, * * *Murray, Janet H.
Inventing the Medium, 2003
* * Pérez, Rolando. "Borges and Bruno Schulz on the Infinite Book of the Kabbalah." Confluencia. Volume 31. Spring 2016. https://www.academia.edu/25252312/Borges_and_Bruno_Schulz_on_the_Infinite_Book_of_the_Kabbalah. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Documentaries

* * *


External links

* * *
BBC Radio 4 discussion programme
from In Our Time (BBC Radio 4), ''In our time''. (Audio 45 mins)
The Garden of Forking Paths
Borges site from The Modern Word.
De Peryton
a work by Dutch composer Theo Verbey for seven wind instruments inspired by Borges.
Borges Center, University of Pittsburgh

The Friends of Jorge Luis Borges Worldwide Society & AssociatesInternational Foundation Jorge Luis BorgesJorge Luis Borges
recorded at the Library of Congress for the Hispanic Division's audio literary archive on 23 April 1976.
Six Norton Lectures
(1967–68; audio; 4h13m) {{DEFAULTSORT:Borges, Jorge Luis Jorge Luis Borges, 1899 births 1986 deaths 20th-century Argentine writers 20th-century Argentine male writers 20th-century short story writers Anti-Peronism Individualist anarchists Argentine agnostics Argentine anti-communists Argentine anti-fascists Argentine essayists Argentine librarians Argentine people of English descent Argentine people of Portuguese descent Argentine people of Spanish descent Argentine people of Uruguayan descent Argentine male poets Argentine screenwriters Male screenwriters Argentine male short story writers Argentine translators Translators of Edgar Allan Poe Translators of James Joyce Argentine writers in French Blind people from Argentina Blind writers Burials at Cimetière des Rois Deaths from cancer in Switzerland Commanders Crosses of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany Converts to Christianity from atheism or agnosticism Deaths from liver cancer Edgar Award winners English–Spanish translators French–Spanish translators German–Spanish translators Hyperreality theorists Jerusalem Prize recipients Honorary Knights Commander of the Order of the British Empire Argentine people of British descent Recipients of the Legion of Honour Male essayists Philosophers of time Postmodern writers Premio Cervantes winners Sonneteers Argentine classical liberals Translators from Old English Translators from Old Norse Translators of Franz Kafka Translators to Spanish World Fantasy Award-winning writers Writers from Buenos Aires Argentine emigrants to Switzerland 20th-century essayists Weird fiction writers Philosophical pessimists Haiku poets 20th-century translators 20th-century screenwriters Go writers