Cover image for Selected nonfictions
Title:
Selected nonfictions
Author:
Borges, Jorge Luis, 1899-1986.
Uniform Title:
Essays. Selections. English
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 1999.
Physical Description:
xvi, 559 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780670849475
Format :
Book

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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library PQ7797.B635 A22 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

This unique volume presents a Borges almost entirely unknown to American readers: his extraordinary non-fiction prose. Borges' unlimited curiosity and almost superhuman erudition become, in his essays, reviews, lectures, and political and cultural notes, a vortex for seemingly the entire universe: Dante and Ellery Queen; Shakespeare and the Kabbalah; the history of angels and the history of the tango; the Buddha, Bette Davis, and the Dionne Quints.


Author Notes

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1899, Jorge Borges was educated by an English governess and later studied in Europe. He returned to Buenos Aires in 1921, where he helped to found several avant-garde literary periodicals. In 1955, after the fall of Juan Peron, whom he vigorously opposed, he was appointed director of the Argentine National Library. With Samuel Beckett he was awarded the $10,000 International Publishers Prize in 1961, which helped to establish him as one of the most prominent writers in the world. Borges regularly taught and lectured throughout the United States and Europe. His ideas have been a profound influence on writers throughout the Western world and on the most recent developments in literary and critical theory.

A prolific writer of essays, short stories, and plays, Borges's concerns are perhaps clearest in his stories. He regarded people's endeavors to understand an incomprehensible world as fiction; hence, his fiction is metaphysical and based on what he called an esthetics of the intellect. Some critics have called him a mystic of the intellect. Dreamtigers (1960) is considered a masterpiece.

A central image in Borges's work is the labyrinth, a mental and poetic construct, that he considered a universe in miniature, which human beings build and therefore believe they control but which nevertheless traps them. In spite of Borges's belief that people cannot understand the chaotic world, he continually attempted to do so in his writing. Much of his work deals with people's efforts to find the center of the labyrinth, symbolic of achieving understanding of their place in a mysterious universe. In such later works as The Gold of the Tigers, Borges wrote of his lifelong descent into blindness and how it affected his perceptions of the world and himself as a writer.

Borges died in Geneva in 1986.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Borges, the great Argentinian writer, was born 100 years ago this year, and to mark the occasion, Viking is publishing a three-volume English-language edition of his works. Collected Fictions (1998) and Selected Poems [BKL Ap 1 99] appeared previously and is now followed by a compilation of nonfiction. The introduction notes that Borges was "sworn to the virtue of concision," and the essays, prologues, book and film reviews, lectures, and other occasional pieces gathered here demonstrate that characteristic perfectly. The entire span of Borges' writing career is represented. That he was at home in erudition is well known, but that he also was well versed in popular culture will amaze many readers. (His history of the tango brings up interesting points.) Some of the best writing in the book are the "Capsule Biographies," each a page in length and beautifully highlighting such writers as Isaac Babel and T. S. Eliot. A trenchant assessor even of politics, Borges in one essay refers to Hitler as "this atrocious offspring of Versailles." Unforgettable eloquence. --Brad Hooper


Publisher's Weekly Review

Reviewing a book that seeks to validate the existence of ghosts through testimony by the upper crust of British society, Borges writes: "the Honorable Reginald Fortescue became a firm believer in the existence of `an alarming spectre.' As for myself, I don't know what to think: for the moment, I refuse to believe in the alarming Reginald Fortescue until an honorable spectre becomes a firm believer in his existence." In this compilation of nonfiction prose, the third of Viking's magisterial three-volume collection of Borges's complete works, a new, fuller Borges emerges, as the writer becomes a joker; the fabulist shows himself to be a rationalistic skeptic; and the alleged conservative skewers upper-class pretensions. We also find the familiar man of letters in such classic essays as "A New Refutation of Time" and "Kafka's Precursors" (which foreshadows the most interesting ideas of Harold Bloom in a mere two and a half pages). Among the gems to appear in English for the first time are slyly brilliant literary essays, such as an appreciation of Flaubert's enigmatic novel, Bouvard and P‚cuchet, and an authoritative critical history of the translations of the 1001 Nights. Other newly available aspects of Borges's oeuvre are trenchant critiques of Argentinean anti-Semitism; contemporary reviews of such works as Citizen Kane, Absalom, Absalom and Finnegan's Wake (Borges finds it incomprehensible); and capsule literary biographies for a woman's magazine. While the translations capture Borges's unfailingly elegant style, the editing at times seems overly academic: certain sentences, even paragraphs, are repeated, and certain topics (particularly time and eternity) are overrepresented, a tendency that makes the book rather difficult to read straight through. Even so, this is a volume of inexhaustible delights. First serial to Grand Street. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

After Collected Fictions and Selected Poems, nonfiction pieces from a 20th-century master, making up a three-volume centenary edition. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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