Conversations, Volume 1
Jorge Luis Borges and Osvaldo Ferrari Seagull Books, 2014 Library of Congress PQ7797.B635Z46713 2014 | Dewey Decimal 868.6209
Buddhism, love, Henry James, and the tango are just a few of the topics Jorge Luis Borges, Argentina’s master writer, and extraordinary conversationalist, discusses in the first volume of the remarkable new series, Conversations. The eighty-four-year-old blind man’s wit is unending and results in lively and insightful discussions that configure a loose autobiography of a subtle, teasing mind. Borges’s favorite concepts, such as time and dreaming, are touched upon, but these dialogues are not a true memoir, they are unrestricted conversations about life at present.
The Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator, contributed immensely to twentieth-century literature, and more specifically to the genres of magical realism and fantasy. As he progressively lost his sight—he became completely blind by the age of fifty-five—the darkness behind his eyelids held enchanting imagery that translated into rich symbolism in his work. The inner workings of his curious mind are seen vividly in his conversations with Ferrari, and there’s not a subject on which he doesn’t cast surprising new light. As in his tale “The Other,” where two Borgeses meet up on a bench beside the River Charles, this is a dialogue between a young poet and the elder teller of tales where all experience floats in a miracle that defies linear time.
Conversations, Volume 2
Jorge Luis Borges and Osvaldo Ferrari Seagull Books, 2015 Library of Congress PQ7797.B635Z46713 2014 | Dewey Decimal 868.6209
Recorded during Jorge Luis Borges’s final years, this second volume of his conversations with Osvaldo Ferrari provides a wide-ranging reflection on the life and work of Argentina’s master writer and favorite conversationalist. In Conversations: Volume 2, Borges and Ferrari engage in a dialogue that is both improvisational and frequently humorous as they touch on subjects as diverse as epic poetry, detective fiction, Buddhism, and the moon landing. With his signature wit, Borges offers insight into the philosophical basis of his stories and poems, his fascination with religious mysticism, and the idea of life as dream. He also dwells on more personal themes, including the influence of his mother and father on his intellectual development, his friendships, and living with blindness. These recollections are alive to the passage of history, whether in the changing landscape of Buenos Aires or a succession of political conflicts, leading Borges to contemplate what he describes as his “South American destiny.”
The recurrent theme of these conversations, however, is a life lived through books. Borges draws on the resources of a mental library that embraces world literature—ancient and modern. He recalls the works that were a constant presence in his memory and maps his changing attitudes to a highly personal canon. In the prologue to the volume, Borges celebrates dialogue and the transmission of culture across time and place. These conversations are a testimony to the supple ways that Borges explored his own relation to numerous traditions.
Praise for Borges
“Borges is arguably the great bridge between modernism and post-modernism in world literature.”—David Foster Wallace
Jorge Luis Borges
Jason Wilson Reaktion Books, 2006 Library of Congress PQ7797.B635Z955 2006 | Dewey Decimal 868.6209
“Through the years, a man peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, tools, stars, horses and people. Shortly before his death, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the image of his own face.”
These words, inseparably marrying Jorge Luis Borges's life and work, encapsulate how he interwove the two throughout his legendary career. But the Borges of popular imagination is the blind, lauded librarian and man of letters; few biographers have explored his tumultuous early life in the streets and cafes of Buenos Aires, a young man searching for his path in the world. In Jorge Luis Borges, Jason Wilson uncovers the young poet who wrote, loved, and lost with adventurous passion, and he considers the later work and life of the writer who claimed he never created a character other than himself. As Borges declared, “It’s always me, subtly disguised.”
Born in Buenos Aires in 1899, Borges was a voracious reader from childhood, perhaps in part because he knew he lived under an inescapable sentence of adult-onset blindness inherited from his father. Wilson chronicles Borges’s life as he raced against time and his fated blindness, charting the literary friendships, love affairs, and polemical writings that formed the foundation of his youth. Illuminating the connections running between the biography and fictions of Borges, Wilson traces the outline of this self-effacing literary figure.
Though in his later writings Borges would subjugate emotion to the wild play of ideas, this bracing book reminds us that his works always recreated his life in subtle and delicate ways. Restoring Borges to his Argentine roots, Jorge Luis Borges will be an invaluable resource for all those who treasure this modern master.
In this bold study, Edna Aizenberg offers a much-needed corrective to both Latin American literary scholarship and popular assumptions that the whole of Latin America served as a Nazi refuge both during and after World War II. Analyzing the treatment of the Shoah by five leading figures in Argentine, Brazilian, and Chilean writing—Alberto Gerchunoff, Clarice Lispector, Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriela Mistral, and Joao Guimaraes Rosa—Aizenberg illuminates how Latin American intellectuals engaged with the horrific information that reached them regarding the Holocaust, including the sympathy and collaboration of their own governments with the Nazis. Aizenberg emphasizes how—through fiction, journalism, and activism—these five culture-makers opposed and fought fascism. At the same time, her readings of individual texts confront shopworn clichés about Latin American writing and literature, suggesting deeper and richer dimensions to many canonical works. This interdisciplinary book fills critical gaps in both Holocaust and Latin American studies, and will be of great interest to scholars and students in both fields.