The OF Blog: Borges Month: Introduction to one of the greatest writers of the 20th century

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Borges Month: Introduction to one of the greatest writers of the 20th century

It is no secret to regulars at this blog that I consider Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) to be one of the greatest literary voices of the 20th century.  Ever since 2003, when I finally decided to read him, I have been reading more and more of his works.  If you are a fan of say a Gene Wolfe or many of the New Weird writers, it shouldn't be surprising that elements found in Borges' fictions influenced their own ways of approaching the craft of constructing a story.  Doubtless whenever there are references to labyrinths or allusions to metatextual forgeries, somewhere, someone stops and thinks, "I remember seeing Borges do something similar in his fiction!"

But Borges is much, much more than just that mostly-blind, crafty storyteller.  There is much, much more to the man than this and for the next five weeks or so, I am going to be exploring Borges' less well-known sides.  I am going to examine his poetry and provide short translations of my own of key lines that I think are worthy of consideration.  I am going to discuss Borges' non-fiction, particularly his books of literary criticism, those on Argentine writers like José Fernández and Evaristo Carriego, as well as his works on Germanic and English literature.  Toward the end of this time, I am going to review two books written about Borges.  The first is a book on Borges' connections with SF, written by Carlos Abraham and called Borges y la ciencia ficción, while the second is a monstrous 1663 page extract from Adolfo Bioy Casares' diaries that discuss his dear friend and fellow writer.

With at least 33 books to discuss, several of which are omnibi, my original plans to make July Borges Month had to be altered slightly.  Thus the introductory post  on June 29th, and the likely conclusion stretching into early August.  Hopefully, there will be others who will participate, either by commenting here asking questions or providing solutions to problems I may have with the text (mind you, I'm reading all of this in Spanish, although there are English translations for the majority of these works), or perhaps through reading and blogging about particular works of his.  If you do this, please give me a link, perhaps in a comment to one of my posts, and I'll collect them and make regular posts about what others are saying about Borges.

Anyway, the first post will be posted later tonight on his 1923 poetry collection, Fervor de Buenos Aires, and his 1925 poetry collection Luna de Enfrente.


Alec Johnson said...

Rock and roll. After hearing the name bandied about by just about every writer I've ever become overexcited about (but especially Ballard), I picked up my first Borges in the library a couple of weeks ago (Labyrinths), and I'm looking forward to getting stuck in. With a whole month on him turning up here, it looks like I've picked a good time to get started.

Larry said...

Yes, it certainly sounds like you have indeed! Although my first few posts will be on his early poems and literary criticisms/essays, I'll be covering the contents of that collection when I review the original collections from which the stories in Labyrinths were chosen.

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