The great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) defies classification. Borges was born in Buenos Aires and is the author of numerous collections of fiction, poetry, and essays. His groundbreaking trans-genre work, Labyrinths, has been insinuating itself into the structure, stance, and very breath of world literature for well over half a century. Writing that is multi-layered, self-referential, elusive, and allusive is now labeled Borgesian. "Jorge Luis Borges is a central fact of Western culture." (The Washington Post Book World)
Writing for Harper’s Magazine, Edgardo Krebs describes Professor Borges:
“A compilation of the twenty-five lectures Borges gave in 1966 at the University of Buenos Aires, where he taught English literature. Starting with the Vikings’ kennings and Beowulf and ending with Stevenson and Oscar Wilde, the book traverses a landscape of ‘precursors,’ cross-cultural borrowings, and genres of expression, all connected by Borges into a vast interpretive web. This is the most surprising and useful of Borges’s works to have appeared posthumously.”
Borges takes us on a startling, idiosyncratic, fresh, and highly opinionated tour of English literature, weaving together countless cultural traditions of the last three thousand years. Borges’s lectures — delivered extempore by a man of extraordinary erudition — bring the canon to remarkably vivid life.
Now translated into English for the first time, these lectures are accompanied by extensive and informative notes by the Borges scholars Martín Arias and Martín Hadis.
The words of a genius: Borges at Eighty transcends our expectations of ordinary conversation. In these interviews with Barnstone, Dick Cavett, and Alastair Reid, Borges touches on favorite writers (Whitman, Poe, Emerson) and familiar themes — labyrinths, mystic experiences, and death — and always with great, throw-away humor. For example, discussing nightmares, he concludes, “When I wake up, I wake to something worse. It’s the astonishment of being myself.”
Everything and Nothing collects the best of Borges’ highly influential work — written in the 1930s and ‘40s — that foresaw the internet (“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”), quantum mechanics (“The Garden of Forking Paths”), and cloning (“Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote”). David Foster Wallace described Borges as “scalp-crinkling... Borges’ work is designed primarily as metaphysical arguments... to transcend individual consciousness.”
Borges, among his many glittering literary facets, was a world-renowned speaker. Seven Nights collects seven lectures that were taped during the summer of 1977 in Buenos Aires. These were later pirated as records, only to be reclaimed by Borges who edited them for publication as a series in a Buenos Aires newspaper. In Seven Nights, Borges utilizes each subject as a vessel through which an outrageous claim gradually makes clairvoyant sense. The “Divine Comedy” is a true story; “Nightmares” are beautiful; “The Thousand and One Nights” will never be fully read; “Buddhism” defies understanding; “Poetry” exists only to remind us of perfection; “The Kabbalah” proves the existence of God in man; and “Blindness” is a gift. Behind Borges’ playful wit lies an impressive erudition amassed, despite failing eyesight and eventual blindness, over a lifetime of study. “For Borges,” Reid continues, “literary experiences are just as visceral as ones experienced in reality. When he talks about books and writers, it is like talking about landscapes and journeys, so vivid has his reading been to him.” As William Gibson remarked, Borges “stretched basic paradigms as effortlessly, it seemed, as another gentleman might tip his hat and wink."
The groundbreaking trans-genre work of Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) has been insinuating itself into the structure, stance, and very breath of world literature for well over half a century. Multi-layered, self-referential, elusive, and allusive writing is now frequently labeled Borgesian. Umberto Eco’s international bestseller, The Name of the Rose, is, on one level, an elaborate improvisation on Borges’ fiction "The Library," which American readers first encountered in the original 1962 New Directions publication of Labyrinths. This new edition of Labyrinths, the classic representative selection of Borges’ writing edited by Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby (in translations by themselves and others), includes the text of the original edition (as augmented in 1964) as well as Irby’s biographical and critical essay, a poignant tribute by Andre Maurois, and a chronology of the author’s life. Borges enthusiast William Gibson has contributed a new introduction bringing Borges’ influence and importance into the twenty-first century.